I was fed this idea that being an actress was everyone’s dream except that it wasn’t mine. Directing, on the other hand, comes so naturally for me. I love creating and having a voice. My personality hasn’t changed – I’ve just opened my mouth and spoken. I didn’t have a platform for that before.
Rose McGowan is featured on the front cover of the October 2015 issue of Prestige Hong Kong with a gorgeous new shoot and a super interesting interview. You can read on for the interview and check out the photoshoot in the gallery.
A Woman’s Worth
Film and television star ROSE MCGOWAN spent the last few years out of the spotlight before recently emerging as an unofficial spokesperson for female empowerment. DIVIA HARILELA meets her in New York
One of the most iconic images of Rose McGowan was taken at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1998. The sultry actress, who was dating rocker Marilyn Manson at the time, caused an uproar when she walked down the red carpet in a see-through chain-mesh dress with her backside hanging out in full view. Seventeen years on and McGowan couldn’t be more different. She walks in unnoticed at the trendy Standard Hotel in New York City, which is buzzing thanks to Fashion Week. Her long dark locks have been replaced with a messy boy cut and she’s wearing a simple white shirt, black jeans, trainers and a backpack. She looks more like a cool art student than a famous Hollywood starlet.
Born in Florence, Italy to hippy parents, McGowan moved to the United States when she was 10 and later ended up in Los Angeles, where she was discovered by a Hollywood agent at 17. She made her debut on the big screen in the film The Doom Generation, which quickly garnered her an Independent Spirit Award nomination. Soon she was starring in high-profile films directed by the likes of Wes Craven and Quentin Tarantino, and appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone. By the mid 1990s she became a part of American pop culture thanks to her starring role in the popular TV series Charmed. A few years later, after sustaining several injuries on movie sets, McGowan decided to take a break from Hollywood and disappeared from the big screen altogether. The period that followed was one that she has referred to publicly as “traumatic and life changing”.
“Uncensored Visions” is an ongoing series of photographic interpretations of l.a.Eyeworks‘ iconic eyewear designs seen through the lenses of an emerging generation of photographers. The series currently features commissioned photographs by Josef Jasso, Sula Fay, Maria Ruvalcaba, Esra Rotthoff, and a collaboration between Malia James and Tyler William Parker.
Rose McGowan knows three versions of herself through and through: the woman she is, the woman you thought of her as, and the woman she’s becoming. The former is a staunch feminist, articulate and no-holds barred. The latter is a filmmaker with what many are finding to be surprising depth and vision. It’s that middle one—that pesky version that for years shaded McGowan in every color but gray. That’s the one she ran away from seven years ago, that’s the one that she’s making sure never comes back.
We speak the day after the Golden Globes, which she was slated to attend until her body went into what she calls a “psychosomatic seizure” that debilitated her. Considering the alternative—hobnobbing with industry elite and foreign press members—it seems she may have gotten the better end of the stick.
“It just all feels like a scene in a movie that you’ve been in so many times, you forget why you keep going,” McGowan says. “It becomes about, ‘why did you cut your hair?’ Why the fuck not? How about that?”
As her debut short-film Dawn, is set to be released on June 21st on YouTube we met with Rose McGowan and discussed her new vocation as a film director, the story behind her upcoming first feature film The Pines, and her escape from Hollywood’s status quo of misogyny. And as it turns out, her new professional journey is far more personal than one could imagine.
First things first, let’s discuss your short-film debut, Dawn, the tragedy of a teenage girl…
Dawn is about growing up as a young woman in the 60s, experiencing first love and femininity, but it is also about asking what happens when we as a society, with maternal influences, bind our daughter’s hands? How we give them no defense mechanism at all-we only say ‘no, you can’t do this’, without explaining why. But it also questions the idea of masculinity, the two men that Dawn idolises are Robert Hunter and Rock Hudson, now known as gay actors, but at the time, they would have been her teenage dream. I also wanted to question class disparity by putting an emphasis on the material contrast between the working class and the middle class–for example, the condition of Dawn’s family car which is brand new, versus the boy’s car, who works at a gas station, which is much older. I say a lot without having to hit anybody over the head. So it’s not a coming-of-age story per se, it’s rather a cautionary tale.
What about the casting, how did you chose your actors?
I didn’t want anybody to look like an actor from L.A. I got Tara Barr to play Dawn, her face doesn’t have this innocent baby-fat anymore. As for the male lead role, I was looking for somebody who could embody a paedophile, a victimiser, a manipulator capable of gently scrambling Dawn’s brain.
I’m going to tell you about the Nine Lives of Rose McGowan. They’re lives of intersection, lives of expression, lives occasionally glazed with death, the macabre, the dying. They’re lives of spotlight, scrutiny, sex, and longing. They’re lives not yet lived, and lives long forgotten.
Rose McGowan is drinking tequila with muddled jalapeños, her shoulders exposed from a white dress to a balmy Santa Ana breeze atop a boutique hotel in Hollywood, her hair cut short in a punishing bob. Our opening exchange is taut and tense, warm and nuanced, marked as much by polarity as the subsequent conversation that follows. To wit: McGowan’s digesting today’s closure of the agency that currently represents her for acting, Resolution, run by former ICM chairman, Jeff Berg, while enjoying a declaratively charmed review of her directorial debut, Dawn, by The New York Times.
Life, in this moment now, is moving like a current through McGowan, knotted up and ready to incite something, anything. It’s when she laughs—as she’ll do while chewing on ideas of art, fame, sex, expectation, power, and spiritual renewal—that this is most evident. It’s a stage laugh, capable of rattling the nosebleeds, almost superhuman.
Can you describe the world that Dawn has been exposed to and how that relates to the feminist undertones in the film?
Setting Dawn in 1961 allowed me to examine the pretty straight jacket that girls were raised to exist in. The post-war ideal of femininity both fascinates and horrifies me. I realized I could say a lot about that by making a study of Dawn’s repression.
How do you feel that your experience as an actress in Hollywood has influenced your transition into directing- specifically regarding the projects you’ll take on?
Everything relates. It’s a special trick of the mind to think that we are only allowed to be or do one thing. Acting is an art, but I wasn’t feeling like an artist. To be a frustrated artist is a special kind of torture. I am now very comfortable having my own voice. I know what I will and won’t do as a director and I learned that from being an actress. Read more …
The sexy cover girl bites back.
It was the tweet heard ‘round Hollywood. Last June, the beautiful actress Rose McGowan—best remembered as HBIC Courtney from the 1999 teen film Jawbreaker; the supernatural Paige Matthews from five seasons of Charmed; the sultry Pam from Tarantino’s Grindhouse; or maybe even as the one-time fiancée to Marilyn Manson—got annoyed. She had received a casting call notice requesting that actresses wear form-fitting clothes that emphasized their cleavage: “push-up bras encouraged.” She tweeted it, along with this: “Casting note that came w/script I got today. For real. name of male star rhymes with Madam Panhandler hahahaha I die.” It was an Adam Sandler movie. Shortly afterward, her agent fired her. To some, she may be an unlikely candidate for fighting misogyny in the entertainment industry—a famed 2007 Rolling Stone cover (one of her many magazine covers) has her and Rosario Dawson wearing the kind of outfits that would have guaranteed them top billing in that Adam Sandler movie. But she said she grew up with an activist father, so her passion for social justice shouldn’t be much of a shock. And smart career move? Just maybe. That attention-grabbing tweet came right before the New York City premiere of the first film she directed, Dawn. Now 41, and a filmmaker, Ms. McGowan is determined to prove her talents go beyond acting and making the pages of gossip rags. Largely absent from the public eye for a few years (after appearing in more than two-dozen films), Ms. McGowan has shifted her focus to working on private business ventures and is now directing and singing—something most people don’t know she’s been doing “undercover” for years, she said. Last year, Dawn, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize for Best Original Short. She starts filming a full-length feature with a company known for working on women-centric projects this fall. Going forward, acting won’t be the focus of her career for the foreseeable future, she hopes. Now, she finally feels like she has a voice in the industry she’s been a part of for so long. Over dinner at LES hotspot ACME, McGowan dished to Observer about her upcoming feature-length film, her absence from the public eye and taking a stand for women in the entertainment industry. Was the short film Dawn your first foray into filmmaking? Dawn was my first foray into doing everything: having my name on something. It was my first foray into filmmaking. I’m in a strange situation. I spent over 57,000 hours on sets. I grew up in this. I know what I’m doing from the inside-out. I’ve had a film education second-to-none that’s really unique. I know films from gathering the money together to being on the cover of Rolling Stone: the business and the arts side of things. I’m in a pretty unique position. The first-time director thing works for me, but it kind of doesn’t work for me. I’m in my own category. You’re coming out with a feature-length film via Sundial Pictures and Tangerine Entertainment. What’s it about? It’s set in 1971, and it’s called The Pines. I’m calling it an art thriller because the girl hallucinates a lot, and I’m going to be drawing a lot from the art world for it. The girl is in a mental institution and has a disorder where she hears a-tonal musical notes wherever she goes… She can’t prove to the people in the institution that she has these hallucinations, so they make her leave. She tries to rejoin society, and it doesn’t go well… It’s really about a girl who’s completely lost, lost in the world of her mind and the world of sound.
Rose McGowan is about to show you a whole other side of undeniable talent in her directorial debut with Dawn. Visually stunning, meticulously thought out and flawlessly executed feature short film serves as warning tale to young girls and beyond, demonstrating how radical social norms and rules often cloud our perception and strip us defenseless in the face of danger. Touching upon crucial subjects like social class disparity, gender identity, and false values, Dawn draws you in and demands your attention. Watch the entire film below and check out our WILD exclusive interview with the mastermind behind it:
On her directorial debut:
It’s beyond liberating, I finally have my own voice. I know what I want to say and I know how to do it. I got tired of being people’s sub part of imagination. I was always very uncomfortable on sets. I wouldn’t seem it to others, but it didn’t feel quite right. Imagine you get to work every day and everything that comes out of your mouth is written for you, not by you, so you literally don’t have your own voice. Not only being other people but often a very little imagination of what you are or can be.
The Sundance Film Festival experience as a director:
Read more …
Rose McGowan appears from around the corner of the EDITION Hotel suite where she’s staying for a few days. “Hold on, I’m going to put on some lipstick,” she says, disappearing into another room. A few seconds later she’s back, her signature porcelain skin looking even milkier in contrast to the red lipstick she’s put on. “Much better,” she smiles, sitting down on the couch with her legs crossed.
I’m delighted to find that McGowan is exactly as I’ve always pictured her – incredibly charming, smart as a whip, and totally honest. She’s a refreshing person in an industry that has the reputation for being a little fake; something that Rose has no qualms about calling the industry out on, particularly the sexist politics of Hollywood. “It’s just so boring! I’m just like, ‘Come on, get with the program!’” she says, a perfect eye roll serving as an exclamation mark to her statement. But McGowan’s life is anything less than boring; with a myriad of projects and businesses under her belt and iconic film roles on her resume, she has finally made the transition behind the camera with the debut of the short film Dawn, a chilling and striking cautionary tale of sexism and abuse.
In between bites of fries and sliders, Milk Made’s Ana Velasco talked to the multitalented artist about being able to have her own voice, changing the boring datedness of Hollywood, and the unlikely inspiration behind Dawn.
What drew you to create this, especially as a first project?
What really inspired me were women in that era. I really wanted to tell a story about this candy-coated idea of perfect post war, and what we still do today. We tell women to be polite, telling them this, telling them that. What that does is subvert their own instincts for protection. I have a friend that was raped because she told the guy three times that she didn’t want help carrying her groceries, and he went off saying, ‘you’re just being a feminist.’ She thought ‘okay, alright, just take my groceries,’ and of course he raped her. For me, it’s just shining a light on something. I wanted to do it in a very beautiful way and a very stressful way. It still goes on, nothing has changed really.