Fans love Rose McGowan for her famous roles in Scream and Charmed, but most people may know her best as one of the most prominent voices of the #MeToo campaign. She was among the first to come out against Harvey Weinstein and has been very vocal about her bad experiences in Hollywood ever since. So who is Rose McGowan? And what makes her so uniquely and unapologetically herself? Here are defiant facts about Rose McGowan.
1. She Had An Unusual Childhood
Rose Arianna McGowan was born in Italy in 1973 to Daniel and Terri McGowan. Unfortunately, no one could call her childhood glamorous or exotic in any way—her father was involved in some disturbing stuff. Daniel was heading the Italian chapter of the “Children of God” cult, and she spent most of her early years at the group’s communes. She has some truly terrible memories of those days.
2. She Clashed With The Group Members
Rose McGowan was never a shrinking violet, even when she was a child. She remembers angering some of the cult’s diehard followers because she refused to say that she had “taken God into her heart.” Naturally, her refusal to say this had chilling repercussions. They beat her up badly but couldn’t convince her to change her stance.
3. She Was A Born Dissenter
Although she was so young, Rose McGowan realized the cult was preaching absolute nonsense. The expectation that women be subservient to men absolutely disgusted her. She was uncomfortable with the polygamous nature of relationships between group members, and she reacted by showing her disdain for whatever they held sacred.
McGowan decided she’d make her point in a memorable way—by burning a wall of Bibles!
4. She Got Out Before Things Got Too Creepy
Daniel McGowan had taken a second wife before he decided he’d had enough of the cult. What made him change his mind? One simple, but outrageous, reason: The group was now promoting intimate relations between its adult and child members. Thankfully for McGowan, this development creeped out her dad, and he fled to the US with his kids and second wife.
5. She Did Some Modeling
Before the group got all creepy, Daniel McGowan had been working as an artist in Italy. He had some contacts through which little McGowan got some modeling assignments in Vogue Bambini and other Italian magazines. So, at least there was a modicum of glamor in her life! That was when she realized the camera was her friend.
6. She Lived With Her Dad For A While
Rose McGowan didn’t have much choice in the matter. Daniel had left McGowan’s mother Terri in Italy to engineer her own escape. Sadly, he wasn’t winning any “Dad of the Year” awards either. Once Mom moved back to the US, McGowan divided her time between both parents. Heartbreakingly, this did not mean things improved for her. Dad was cruel, while Mom always fell for cruel men!
7. Her Mom Had Issues
For starters, McGowan’s mother had her committed to rehab for substance misuse at the age of 13. McGowan denies ever having an addiction issue. Her mom’s action had devastating consequences: McGowan ran away from the facility and was homeless for a year until her aunt in Seattle took her in. She went to high school there, but her trials were far from over.
She went back to her mom and the two of them moved to Los Angeles. Perhaps they were hoping for a fresh start. Sadly, things did not go too well.
8. She Has Some Furry Friends
The one real love affair in McGowan’s life has been with her dogs. It began when she rescued a Boston Terrier, named Bug, from a “horribly depressing pet store.” She got Fester, another Boston Terrier, to keep her company and spent over $250K on their surgeries. When they passed, she was heartbroken, but she has never been without a dog ever since.
9. She Was Quite Selfish
Rose McGowan has some fond memories of early days in L.A., but a shocking twist spoiled everything. Her mom fell in love with a slacker. She decided she wanted to be with him and not her teenage daughter. Her solution? Offload McGowan on her boyfriend at the time. McGowan was 15, while her boyfriend was 20. Of course, this would end terribly.
10. McGowan Broke Some Ties
At age 15, McGowan emancipated herself from her parents. Considering how concerned they were for her safety and well being, I really don’t blame her. Do you?
11. She Had A Horrible Boyfriend
William was the sorriest excuse for a boyfriend ever. He was into illicit substances and toxically possessive of McGowan. On top of that, he was also dreadful for her self-esteem. He kept pushing her to lose weight even though she was just 92lbs. When his physical abuse caused her to lose two toenails, she knew that she had to leave. However, escaping him was hard.
12. She Took Revenge
It took time to plan her escape, but McGowan finally managed to do it. She fled from William in his own brand new Ford Explorer. McGowan left town and eventually changed the Explorer for a “spaceship-like sports car.” She had to forge William’s signature for that, but she quieted her conscience by remembering her missing toenails.
She would soon find real love, but would she find real happiness?
13. She Found A Distraction
It was around this time that McGowan got her first chance in Hollywood. She had a small role in Pauly Shore’s comedy film, Encino Man. It may not have been much, but it helped her move on from her recent traumatic experience. It also helped her land an audition for a lead role in Gregg Araki’s upcoming movie, The Doom Generation.
Unfortunately, that audition dredges up horrific memories for her.
14. She Hated Her Audition
Her bad experience wasn’t because of anything she did. In fact, she initially enjoyed the audition because of Araki’s “fun, infectious personality.” However, things went south when she had to do a “chemistry test” with one of the male actors. She had to lie on top of him while he was on his back. The actor became visibly aroused. She was super uncomfortable, but got through it by detaching herself from the situation.
15. She Got A Hit
Luckily, something good came out of that terrible audition: She got the leading role in the movie. Critics praised her work, and she won a nomination for “Best Debut Performance” at the Independent Spirit Awards of 1996. It also got her the role of Tatum Riley in Scream, and there was no looking back after that.
16. She Knew What She Wanted
When she auditioned for Wes Craven’s Scream, Rose McGowan knew what she was getting into. Her character was a stereotypical best friend role, someone who would “say funny lines, look hot, and…get killed.” But she was going to make every second count so the film would be “less fun” without her. She certainly succeeded as fans remember her character many years after the movie came out.
17. She Almost Didn’t Get The Role
McGowan nearly didn’t get the iconic role of Tatum! For starters, she was a brunette like Neve Campbell, the lead in Scream—but there was another, much larger roadblock in her way. McGowan had an overzealous lawyer who told the company they had to pay her $200,000. They’d originally offered her just a quarter of that! Production company owner, Harvey Weinstein, refused point-blank, and only her persistence got her through.
As we shall see later, this wasn’t the last time Weinstein would make her life miserable.
18. She Thought Fast On Her Feet
Rose McGowan knew she wanted the role. She realized her hair color would be a problem, since producers had just made a brunette the lead. She came up with a quick solution when she saw her producer’s golden locks. McGowan told the woman: “I just love your hair…I want to [go] blonde tomorrow!” and then saw the wheels turning in their heads. Her readiness to do this and three more screen tests got her to play Tatum Riley.
She was ecstatic, although Weinstein refused to pay her more than the original offer of $50K. They paid all the other actors twice as much, but he seemingly wanted to teach her—and her lawyer—a lesson.
19. She Became Her Character
Rose McGowan owned her role completely. She took charge of her wardrobe, made the production designer change the posters in Tatum Riley’s room, and refused to let a stunt double perform her final scenes. These were shot 20 times from each angle in “freezing cold temperatures” but the discomfort was worth it because the scenes felt more believable.
20. She Couldn’t Scream
Yes, you read that right! Despite being part of a movie titled Scream, McGowan told Craven there was no way she was actually going to do it. “I told Wes I can yell but I cannot scream, and I still can’t.” She didn’t consider it an issue though, and clearly, neither did the audience.
21. She Loved The Scream Experience
McGowan loved working with Wes Craven. She calls Scream the “best filmmaking experience” of her life because of the warm, family-like atmosphere on set. She is proud that she subverted a trope and feels like the film helped shape her into the person she is today. Sadly, the rest of her Hollywood experience wouldn’t be so great.
22. She Had A Horrific Encounter
Sadly, her experience making Scream set McGowan up for the most horrific memory of her career—the Sundance Film Festival in 1997. Weinstein forced himself in her life in the most unpleasant way possible. Her management team set up an interview with him in his hotel restaurant. When she got there, she found out that he’d moved it to his suite. At that point, she just wanted to make a good first impression.
What happened next was disturbing and unexpected.
23. He Terrified Her
The interview started and ended—or so McGowan thought—on a positive note. However, as she was making her way to the door, Weinstein pulled her into his jacuzzi room. Then, he undressed her and assaulted her. McGowan was so caught off guard that she couldn’t fathom what was happening. Unfortunately, the nightmare didn’t end here.
24. She Felt The Effects For A Long Time
You can’t go through such a hellish experience and remain unscathed by it. Rose McGowan remained under severe emotional stress after her “meeting” with Weinstein ended. She would wake up screaming and soaked with sweat because of night terrors. To think one man could have wreaked so much havoc in so many women’s lives.
25. She Tried To Move On
Sadly, the law wasn’t much help in these cases at the time. McGowan consulted with a female criminal attorney and asked if she could press charges against the “Monster,” as she thought of him. The lawyer discouraged her from pursuing it—and the reason why was heartbreaking. He was too powerful, and McGowan was too weak. The brutally honest lawyer told her: “You’ll never win.”
26. She Does Not Regret Her Reaction
Rose McGowan quickly realized there was no way to punish Weinstein or even publicly shame him for what he did to her. So, she decided she would take care of herself and make it clear that his act had been cruel and non-consensual. Weinstein offered her $100,000 as a settlement, and she took it. As McGowan later said, it was “literally my only way of saying, ‘I did not like this. I did not want this. This was not consensual. Get off me. No. Stand back.’ That was it. This was my only recourse.”
She has no guilt that she accepted the money at the time, and she proved he didn’t buy her silence.
27. She Found Some Peace
Sometime after her horrifying experience with Weinstein, Rose McGowan started dating rocker Marilyn Manson. She said that the relationship was “instrumental” in her healing. She felt “young and free” while they were together. Also, people would so frequently threaten Manson that it awakened her protective instincts, which distracted her from the trauma of her assault.
28. People Don’t Understand Her At Times
Onlookers have often found McGowan’s thought process hard to follow. She wore an extremely sheer dress at the 1998 MTV Awards to make a statement. In her mind, it was a way to reclaim the power she felt she had lost because of the Weinstein incident. Aggravatingly, some people saw it as a move to highlight her sensuality.
She also came under fire for dismissing the black dresses women wore at award shows’ Red Carpets, saying that none of these women would have “lifted a finger” to help her and other victims if they hadn’t spoken out.
29. Controversy Follows Her
Rose McGowan is no stranger to controversy. People routinely criticize her statements and tweets, be they political or social. For instance, her support of the IRA—while promoting her film Fifty Dead Men Walking—resulted in the director and producers distancing themselves from her opinion. She apologized to Iran for a US airstrike and has recently voiced her support for Tara Reade, who accused President-Elect Joe Biden of harassment.
30. She Had To Change Paths
McGowan was with Manson for almost four years. They were engaged for the latter two. Unfortunately, the relationship did not end in a happily-ever-after, and they broke up in 2001. McGowan attributed the split to “lifestyle differences.” Many years later, she hinted she’d called it quits because of Manson’s use of illicit substances.
31. Her Ex Supported Her
Later, after McGowan broke her silence about Weinstein, Manson admitted he hadn’t known much about the episode at the time. He claimed he supported her—but then his statements went off the rails. He went on to make troubling comments about how women should take their allegations to law enforcers instead of going to the press.
Plus, Manson seemed to feel that not all accusations were “serious enough” to cancel harassers. He may have had a disturbing reason for feeling that way…
32. He Had His Own Problems
Long after McGowan had broken up with Manson, he started dating Evan Rachel Wood. Although Wood never mentioned Manson by name, she did testify that she’d been in a violent relationship. Her testimony coincided with a troubling interview Manson gave many years ago in which he confessed fantasizing about smashing her skull.
Manson’s team called it a PR stunt to promote his upcoming album at the time, but actress Charlyne Yi had also tweeted that the shock rocker had harassed many women on the set of the TV show House. No one has proven the allegations, but McGowan just might have dodged a bullet there.
33. She Found Another Love
Unfortunately, our girl McGowan had a knack for picking the wrong men—and her next boyfriend was particularly toxic. She had a brief affair with Robert Rodriguez, who directed her in Planet Terror, part of a collab with Quentin Tarantino titled Grindhouse. Rodriguez was stil married when they began dating. McGowan has many nasty stories from that time as well.
34. He Was A Control Freak
McGowan found being with Rodriguez a nightmarish experience because of his jealous and overly-possessive nature. He was so unhappy that his girl had a kissing scene with Freddy Rodriguez that he shaved his beard in the same pattern as the actor. Why? So he could replace him in that particular scene, of course! Perhaps McGowan felt it was romantic at the time?
But that wasn’t even the worst part…
35. He Exploited Her Past
Rose McGowan has blamed Robert Rodriguez for using her traumatic Harvey Weinstein experience in his movie. She said it was a shocking twist when she realized she was essentially reliving the scene for the screen. Tarantino appeared as her assailant. And it got worse from there. When she discovered the Rodriguez had sold the film to Weinstein, she was horrified.
“I can’t tell you what it’s like to be sold into the hands of the man who…scarred me for life.” Intriguingly, Rodriguez has a different perspective of the incident.
36. He Has An Explanation
Rodriguez issued his own statement after McGowan’s public takedown of his character. While he unequivocally sided with McGowan and other silence breakers, he claimed he had never intended to exploit her. Her story had horrified him, but he respected the fact that she did not want to come out against Weinstein because she’d signed an NDA.
He said that he wanted to make her character a strong superhero who could avenge herself against assailants and thugs. It was a way to get back at Weinstein: By making him fund a film that showed the victim taking control and punishing her predator. Since a contract already bound him to the Weinsteins, McGowan had always known they would be the ones producing and selling the film.
37. She Tried To Fit Into A Charmed Life
After lead actress Shannon Doherty left the show Charmed, producers cast McGowan as Paige Matthews. She came in Season Four and stayed until the eighth and final season. Viewers enjoyed her portrayal as the fourth Halliwell sister, uniting with her siblings to fight against evil forces using magic. The show helped McGowan get a bigger fan following.
But unfortunately, long after the show was over, they continued the sibling rivalry offscreen.
38. She Got Into A Spat
McGowan doesn’t believe in holding back. She’s had her share of disagreements, both online and offline. One of her famous Twitter feuds was with Alyssa Milano, her co-star on Charmed. McGowan called her out for her toxic behavior on set, blamed her for claiming to pioneer the #metoo movement—which truly started with Tarana Burke, and clashed with her political views as well.
Milano then blocked McGowan and declared, “hurt people hurt people.” Safe to say, these two aren’t becoming BFFs anytime soon!
39. She Thought She’d Met Mr. Right
After two failed engagements with Manson and Rodriguez, it seemed McGowan had found Prince Charming when she married visual artist David Leavitt, aka Davey Detail, in 2013. The couple had a small, romantic ceremony in L.A. in 2013, at Paramour Mansion. Sadly, third time wasn’t the charm either.
40. It Wasn’t Meant To Be
McGowan cited “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for divorce. The couple privately decided on a division of assets and to have their frozen embryos, stored at a fertility clinic, “thawed and destroyed.” The marriage lasted less than three years.
41. She Broke Her Silence
So how did Rose McGowan finally find the courage to come out against Harvey Weinstein? It was the result of a Twitter hashtag: #WhyWomenDontReport. She tweeted, “Because my ex sold our movie to my rapist for distribution.” And further, “Because it’s an open secret in Hollywood & they shamed me while adulating my rapist.”
She was hoping the reporters would come to find her and pry out the name of her assailant. They did.
42. The Media Found Her
She hoped for media attention and she got it—but there was an unexpected twist. McGowan has been bitter about how the New York Times got all the credit for exposing Weinstein, even though they could have never done it without her. When they won the Pulitzer Prize, she called it unfair, especially since she’s been “hard up for money.” However, her net worth right now is estimated to be $3 million.
43. She Says She Believes In Equal Rights
McGowan has landed in hot water for criticizing the homosexual community for being “misogynistic.” She later apologized for the generalization, though she defended her right to call them out to act. And, in two different incidents, critics have accused her of transphobia. After Caitlyn Jenner lamented that the hardest part of being a woman was deciding what to wear, McGowan insulted her.
In another incident, someone asked McGowan what she’d ever done to make life better for trans women—and McGowan responded by asking what the person had ever done for women themselves. In response to the criticism for these incidents, McGowan said it was uncalled for, and pointed to her longtime advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights.
44. Her Appearance Changed
Over the years, McGowan has made some noticeable changes to her appearance. In 2007, McGowan confirmed rumors of a corrective cosmetic procedure. She said her face got scarred in an accident—but the truth was more disturbing. During a routine sinus operation, the surgeon had accidentally punctured a hole below her right eye! She had to get reconstructive surgery to fix it and to ensure both eyes looked the same.
More recently, McGowan created a stir when she shaved her head. She said it was her way of announcing her breakup with Hollywood. She has bleached her hair since then too.
45. Her Hero Isn’t In Hollywood
McGowan is currently in Mexico, and she seems to have found love there. She has certainly been posting pictures of some tall, dark, and handsome person on Instagram. Fingers crossed that they’re the one!
46. The Election Results Impacted Her
When the 2020 election results came out, McGowan’s reaction was both dramatic and disastrous. She was reading them on the stairs when she slipped and fell, breaking a bone! She posted a picture of herself on Instagram with the caption that an ER visit cost her $250 in Mexico, while it would likely have cost thousands in the US. Clearly, she has more than one reason to love being there.
47. They Almost Caught Her
Let’s go back to McGowan’s years in the Children of God cult. When her dad decided to leave, it wasn’t exactly easy. In fact, it was downright terrifying. McGowan remembers holding her father’s hand and running in cornfields through a thunderstorm. But that wasn’t even the scariest part—they stopped in a shed to take shelter, and someone tried to break in with a hammer! Luckily, the McGowans managed to escape despite all this drama.
48. She Found A Nice Guy
After leaving her abusive ex-boyfriend William in the 90s, McGowan found someone who genuinely cared for her. She met Brett Cantor, part-owner of a famous Hollywood nightclub, the Dragonfly. He helped her get over her horrific experience with William and her eating disorder. Sadly, this love story would have a heartbreaking end.
49. Her Relationship Ended On A Tragic Note
The love story came to a chilling and abrupt end. In 1993, Cantor’s body was discovered at his Hollywood home. Somebody had brutally slain him with a knife and pierced him with it 23 times. The incident devastated McGowan, but she tried her best to find justice for Cantor. Tragically, even now, no one knows who did this to him and why. Many have speculated that there was a connection to the O.J. Simpson case, although this was never proven.
50. She Wrote A Book
McGowan’s Brave is a memoir in which she talks about her childhood, youth, and all the traumatic experiences that shaped her. She refuses to name Weinstein in the book, referring to him as “Monster,” “Pig Monster,” or “Studio Head.” She also refers to Rodriguez as “RR.” She didn’t want their names in her book. And seriously, why would she?
51. She Thinks They Stole Her Book
Of course, some people did not want Brave to see the light of day. There’s a bizarre conspiracy surrounding Rose McGowan’s tell-all memoir that’s just as explosive as the book’s scandalous contents. During an investigation, journalist Ronan Farrow found that a mysterious intelligence agency sent a private investigator to meet with McGowan under false pretenses. The P.I. secured about 100 pages of McGowan’s book for the person who hired her, rumored to be Weinstein, in order to warn him about the star’s disturbing allegations.