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Project Spotlight

Dawn (2014, short drama)
Directed by Rose McGowan
Starring Tara Barr, Reiley McClendon and Hannah Marks

"Dawn is really about what we do to young girls unwittingly, and how we send them out into the world completely unprotected, in a way that has, at times, really tragic consequences. Being polite at the risk of your own internal voice of danger being silenced is a pretty dangerous thing."

Rose McGowan Biography
Rose McGowan as a baby and young child. Various pictures with her parents and siblings Nathaniel, Daisy and Eva.

Rose Arianna McGowan, the second eldest of six children (plus two half-siblings), was born 5th September 1973 in Florence, Italy to Daniel and Terri McGowan. Daniel is an American artist and Terri a French-American writer, and today a worker for Microsoft. Rose was born in a barn with the assistance of a 89-year old midwife and was raised in communes of the Children of God/The Family cult while her father was the leader of the Italian chapter. "From the outside it would be considered strange, but if you grow up in it, it's normal. I suppose all children are at the mercy of their parents, and whatever trip they happen to be on, and my parents were tripping pretty hard." Overall, Rose regards this period of her life quite positively and mentions often playing outdoors with her siblings and pet lamb. She does not remember so much of the Child of God ideology or being imposed to the scandals – except hairy legs. "It didn’t really mess me up being raised in a commune. It was a really idyllic part of my life. I mean, I grew up surrounded by rolling fields and playing in castles that had been cannonballed in the 14th century. What messed me up was moving to the States,” she said.

Through her father’s contacts in the art industry, Rose became a child model at the age of three and appeared in Vogue Bambini and various other Italian magazines. She showed exceptional intelligence from an early age. McGowan learned to read at three and by the time she was six, she was already reading "The Raven" and "The Tell-Tale Heart”. She was also a very stressed out child who possessed an eye for injustice. “Apparently, I'd get very angry if my dad wasn't treating my mom right, or if I saw any injustice.” The legend tells that McGowan’s father left her mother for the nanny when Rose was nine years old and they divorced shortly after.

Early years and a teenaged Rose. Headshots and an early commercial.

After the events, the McGowan family returned to the States when Rose was 10-years old. She ended up living in Oregon with her mother. “Of all the horrible places to live in, my mother had randomly chosen Oregon, which was Tonya Harding Land. All the kids in the school I went to had that little chicken-hawk, feathery thing going on with their hair, and every one of them came up to me in the first week and said, ‘You're the ugliest thing I've ever seen!’ I was pretty much in the smart-kid classes, so I was with the eight kids who were total outcast nerds with bad dandruff.” Already at such a young age, she had a unique style that set her apart from the rest of the crowd. “I had short, choppy, dyed, jet-black hair and I wore red lipstick. I still have four little '40s-style men's suits that were my favorites from this one shoot that I did. I wore them all the time. I certainly looked strange.” Rose, who did not really fit into any box or clique, would often hide in the library and disappear reading a good book. “I'd live with one foot in a book, and one foot in reality, and every week I'd have a different accent.”

Rose began working at age 13, and her favorite job was as an usherette at a movie theater. When 14, one of her mother's then-boyfriends - a 28-year old surfer dude - convinced her mother, Terri, that Rose was doing drugs because she was thin and always wore black. She was locked up in a drug rehab clinic, although she has insisted she never had a problem. Released, McGowan was homeless for a year before teaming up with a new friend. Together they roamed all over Oregon and Washington. “I've always been a wanderer”, she says. Next Rose traveled to Portland, where she would safely hang out and dance the night away at gay clubs without being disturbed by men… Except she was once gay bashed and knocked unconscious because someone thought she was a lesbian! “But this isn't even an eighth of the things that happened to me. My formative years were like Mr. Toad's wild ride. As a result, things don't faze me much anymore.”

Rose emancipated legally from her parents at the age of 15, even representing herself in the court! She went on to live in Seattle with her aunt and attended Roosevelt High School. Rose also went to an art school for a while and then stayed in Montreal with her father.

Rose's first movie role in Encino Man (1992) and her breakthrough role as Amy Blue in The Doom Generation (1995).

Eventually, Rose McGowan traveled to Los Angeles to visit an actor friend. She scored an appearance in the FOX series True Colors in 1990 and made her silver screen debut in 1992's Encino Man with a bit part as Nora. During this time, she was in a bad place mentally because her boyfriend had recently died. "There's a saying that God doesn't give you more than you can handle, but I continually got more and more, and when my boyfriend died, I just snapped. I'd held up for so long, but I couldn't be strong anymore." In her own words, it all came crumbling down.

But four months later a chance encounter brought Rose McGowan The Doom Generation and the role of Amy Blue. "There's this gym on Beverly Boulevard that I call 'Butt Row' because you can see all these butts going up and down on the StairMasters. I refused to go in on principle because I thought it was tacky. So I was standing outside and my friend cam back out with one of Gregg Araki's best friends, and somehow I wound up getting offered the role of Amy in The Doom Generation. It was wild because physically, the way my character looked in that movie was an homage to my fifteen-year-old self." As Rose regained her strength back from the breakdown, she used it to get through the filming of The Doom Generation, channeling her grief into acting. "It entailed working fifteen hours a day and doing sex scenes at seven in the morning before I went home. It was very hard, but what I appreciated about it was that it was boot camp for movies. It was sink or swim, and obviously I'm a survivor so I tried to swim as much as possible."

After the intense shooting of The Doom Generation, which mainly took place during the nights, Rose McGowan went back to living with her father in Seattle. The idea of acting as a career slipped her mind so she enrolled in a beauty school and worked at her aunt's beauty salon. "With my money that I got from The Doom Generation, I finished the last two months that I had to do in beauty school. That is how I became the licensed beauty operator." While Rose was still working at the salon, The Doom Generation premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 1995 and Gregg Araki took his actors with him to promote the film. The innovative and stylish film gained praise and brought Rose's name to everyone's lips. A critic said of her performance: "In the lead role, debutante McGowan is highly photogenic, commanding the screen with the ease and assuredness of a pro."

"At the Sundance Film Festival, I was this little fish among sharks. I couldn't figure out why all these lawyers were giving me their cards", Rose said. Shortly after she decided to move to Los Angeles and pursue acting. Rose also took classes at UCLA and, as usual, read a lot. The Doom Generation opened in October and it gained Rose an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Debut Performance.

The rest, as they say, is history.

1996-1997, as Tatum Riley in Scream, stealing the scene in Lewis & Clark & George, a pin-up dream in Going All the Way, and an image of Rose from the long lost short film, Seed.

More movie roles followed. In 1996 Rose had a small role in Bio-Dome as Denise, an environmentally conscious party girl. In the trippy and crazy Kiss & Tell, she portrayed Denise. McGowan’s rising star caught the eye of Wes Craven and he cast her as Tatum Riley in Scream, a movie that would be a huge success and re-evoke the slasher genre. Rose’s Tatum was a witty and sassy teenager, who met her demise at the hands of the killer. Although getting killed off meant no roles in the sequels, Tatum’s memorable death scene surely made film history and the performance gained more name to the rising actress.

Rose next went on to star as George in Lewis & Clark & George (1997). The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and never did gain wide release but her unforgettable performance as the silent con artist George still remains one of the fan favorites. McGowan also had a supporting role in Going All the Way and a cameo in Araki’s Nowhere. She also portrayed Miriam in short film Seed, of which Rose said: "It's the favorite thing I've done lately.”

The press immediately fell in love with McGowan because of her photogenic beauty, sharp intelligence and sarcastic sense of humor. Her publicist suggested that she should tone it down for the media but Rose kept on doing her own thing. She graced the covers of several magazines, including multiple times in Interview and Bikini and was featured on the sexiest women lists of men’s magazines all over the world.

The Manson years.
Rose starring alongside her idol, Peter O'Toole, in Phantoms, and seducing audiences in Devil in the Flesh.

In late 1997 Miss McGowan met shock rocker Marilyn Manson at the premiere of Gummo. Manson had just moved to Hollywood and said, "The only person I want to meet is Rose McGowan." Rose had a boyfriend at the time but was unhappy in that relationship and ended it. "We went to this bar and she started dancing really sexy dancing to Iron Maiden, which I thought, if a girl can dance to Iron Maiden, this is the girl that I'm going to be with forever,” Manson said of Rose. She moved in with him shortly after and they fell deeply in love.

Besides finding happiness with Marilyn Manson, Rose McGowan was busy starring in films in 1998. She signed up to play Lisa in Phantoms, her first big movie since Scream, to be able to work with Peter O'Toole. She would spend time hanging out with him in his trailer drinking tea and then after they finished filming, they continued to exchange letters. Southie provided Rose the meaty role of Kathy Quinn. The film went on to win Best Picture at the 2000 Seattle Film Festival. While Rose herself is not a huge fan of the movie, Devil in the Flesh still remains one of her most memorable roles as the psychotic Debbie Strand. Rose also did a series of sexy print ads for Bebe clothing in 1998.

Marilyn Manson cast his muse in his music video for "Coma White" and composed songs and painted portraits of her. Rose went on tour with his band, as the couple did not want to be apart for more than seven days. On February 12, 1999, in a bathtub surrounded by candles, Manson gave Rose a beautiful ring dating back to 1930s, and asked her to marry him. Despite her commitment phobia, she said yes and announced the engagement on Howard Stern's radio show. Rose and Manson never set a date but they did buy a house together.

Busy times - as the unforgettable Courtney Shayne, roles in Ready to Rumble, The Last Stop, Monkeybone, and playing Moira in Strange Hearts.

Rose McGowan next took on the starring role of Courtney Shayne in the dark teen comedy Jawbreaker (1999). The role still remains one of Rose’s personal favorites: "I love Courtney Shayne, she was hilarious. She was very misunderstood. People said she was so evil and I say, ‘Well, she was just a sociopath.’” Jawbreaker gained Rose many new fans and an MTV Movie Award nomination for Best Villain. She also had a role as the dead rock goddess Sno Blo in Sleeping Beauties, a short film.

After taking some time off from the movies to be with her fiancé, Rose couldn’t seem to find roles that really challenged her. In 2000 she was seen in supporting roles in Ready to Rumble and The Last Stop. She next had small roles in Monkeybone and The Killing Yard before starring in as the vulnerable and confused Moira Kennedy in Strange Hearts. Although none of these movies were great successes in terms of box office or critical response, they once again proved Rose’s versatility as an actress and her great charisma. "Yep, I have made some bad films”, she admitted. “But unlike Kate Hudson or Gwyneth Paltrow I didn't grow up in Hollywood, with stability and wealth and all my needs were catered to. I came here trying to survive. I couldn't afford to make worthy, artistic movies for no money. I had to pay the rent.”

Different eras: Rose in the movies Elvis (2005) and Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia (2006)
Conjuring up some magic as Paige on Charmed (2001-2006).

2001 bought huge life changes to Ms. McGowan. In January, she announced that her relationship to Manson was over. "There is great love, but our lifestyle difference is, unfortunately, even greater." Rose refused to talk about the break-up publicly for a while but later on said that she couldn't deal with Manson's drug abuse. "I couldn't take his lifestyle. The drugs - more than you could imagine. I realized it wasn't a lifestyle I wanted to be married to. I have never been a rock chick."

On a brighter note, Rose McGowan was offered a two-year contract on the hit WB series Charmed as the long lost witch sister Paige Matthews and she took up on it. Her contract kept getting renewed and every year it did she would cry. Rose said that the biggest positives about starring in a TV series included the steady pay and being able to follow the character for such a long period of time. She was also proud of the fact that Charmed still remains one of the longest running female-run shows. "The coolest thing is that I'm very pro-women and certainly not afraid to call myself a feminist, unlike a lot of women these days. It is not a remotely dirty word and what the best thing about Charmed is that it is completely pro-women, strong women. It might be high heels and mini-skirts but you're still kicking somebody's ass." Most of all, it caused Rose personal growth and gave her the kind of family that she never really had growing up. "Charmed has probably caused more personal growth than I would have thought. I was an extremely undisciplined person. If I didn't like something, I would move. If I didn't like a city, I would leave. Having to work without those parameters... I suppose it is more adult."

Despite the demanding working hours that came with Charmed, Rose managed to film roles in the musical comedy Stealing Bess (2002), Elvis Presley biopic Elvis (2005) and Brian De Palma’s neo-noir The Black Dahlia (2006). In 2003 she also sang vocals on the song "Superfabulous" for BT’s album Emotional Technology, which became a surprise hit. Rose had a three-year relationship with David Zinczenko, the editor of Men's Health magazine. Despite Rose being located in Los Angeles for Charmed and David residing in New York, the couple was able to make their relationship work for several years. They would spend the weekends together, both communing to the opposite sides of the US for each other.

Two years turned into a five-year tour-de-force performance for Rose McGowan and 2006 marked the end for Charmed. The final episode, Forever Charmed, aired on 21st May and gave a happy ending to Paige Matthews and her witchy sisters.

A Grindhouse nation

The end of Charmed meant that Rose McGowan was now free to return to the big screen. She had met Robert Rodriguez at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005 and ended up talking to him for hours about, among other things, the double standards in films. Rodriguez remembers: "We were sitting around, I was talking to Clive Owen, and then turned around and met Rose, and I was like 'what are you up to?' and she told me she'd been stuck on a TV show for five years, and I was like 'Oh, no wonder I haven't seen you around. You were a Dimension girl for a while, you were in Scream… Then, like, gone.' I didn't know what happened to her. And I started talking to her — she's hilarious. She really just caught me off guard. When you meet somebody like that, that has a personality that's so strong in person, you know that if they can blow it up 50 times on a screen, it's going to be amazing. You get that epiphany of 'I want you to be in my movie, but as you are.' People tell her she should be a stand-up, she's so accident-prone, she has the worst luck, there are just so many things about her. She's always talking about her useless talents. I was like taking notes — 'All I have to do is add a machine-gun leg to her, and she'd be over the top.'"

Later, Rodriguez called her and said "I'm going to put you in my movie. I am going to change things for you." Six months later, Rose auditioned for the role of Cherry Darling in Planet Terror and she, of course, nailed it. First wounded, then equipped, and finally empowered, one night changed Cherry, just like the movie changed the career of Miss McGowan, forever. Rose also starred as Pam in the other half of Grindhouse, Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. Dimension Films wasn't sure about letting her be in both but she lobbied hard, auditioned several times and ultimately landed the role. Grindhouse opened in the US on April 6, 2007. Unfortunately, its box office numbers were a disappointment but the reviews were hugely positive and praised McGowan's performance. Veteran critic Richard Roeper commented: "In the performance of her life, McGowan throws herself into the juicy, sexy, funny, comic book hero role of Cherry Darling." Both of the Grindhouse films were later on released separately abroad and the extended cut of Death Proof premiered and competed at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

In late 2007 reports broke out that Rose and Robert Rodriguez had gotten engaged. "He's my best friend. We instantly became really good friends," said Rose back in June 2007. Engagement rumors swirled for months as the couple attended Hollywood events, and with McGowan sporting a large diamond ring on her wedding finger. Finally, in October 2008 Rose confirmed to USA Today that they were indeed engaged and set to marry. Of the proposal itself, Rose said: "It was lovely and very personal." However, Rose and Robert went their separate ways in 2009.

The Essential Rose McGowan: co-hosting duties on TCM, Fifty Dead Men Walking, playing a villain on Nip/Tuck, on the set of Dead Awake and, finally, Rose out and about in 2009.

Rose McGowan was next rumored to take leading roles in Robert Rodriguez' Barbarella and Sin Ciy 2 and was officially announced to star in Black Oasis as the 1950s B-movie queen Susan Cabot. Unfortunately, the film was one of the many affected by the writer's strike and like Barbarella and Sin Ciy 2, it was put on hold. Director Stephan Elliott moved on to film Easy Virtue, starring Jessica Biel and Colin Firth, while Rose herself embarked on a whole different journey: the role of Grace, a woman who is in the highest level of the IRA in Fifty Dead Men Walking. The movie was filmed in Ireland and saw Rose act alongside veteran actor Sir Ben Kingsley and up and comer Jim Sturgess. Fifty Dead Men Walking premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2008 and was released in the UK in April 2009 with warm reviews.

Miss McGowan, a great lover of the Golden Age of Hollywood, appeared as a Guest Programmer on Turner Classic Movies in November 2007. Rose co-hosted a series of her favorite films with TCM's Robert Osborne. Her enthusiasm impressed the heads of TCM so Rose's one-time gig developed into a full series, The Essentials, which she again co-hosted with Osborne. "During our many shoots with Guest Programmers this year, we encountered a lot of celebrities who impressed us with their knowledge and love of classic film," said Tom Brown, vice president of original programming for TCM. "But Rose really stood out, because she was so passionate and insightful. We thought it would be great for her to share her passion with the audience by co-hosting The Essentials in 2008." Says Rose herself: "When they called me up to do this, I was just thrilled. I didn't even know I was going to get paid. I was so excited, I would have done it for free." The Essentials kicked off March 8, 2008 and concluded on January 31, 2009.

McGowan filmed a guest stint for the FX network's Nip/Tuck between 2008 and 2009. Rose replaced Katee Sackhoff in the role of Theodora "Teddy" Rowe, a villainous doctor and love interest for Sean (Dylan Walsh), for five episodes during the show's sixth season. The role was a different one for Rose and the actress was able to show her versatility and subtle acting quality in a role that could very easily have been over the top if played by another. Rose also filmed a cameo appearance for Robert Rodriguez's Machete (2010), an expansion of the fake trailer that he created for Grindhouse.

Next Rose McGowan geared up for something else entirely; an indie film Dead Awake (2010, aka Dylan's Wake) and the role of Charlie, a schizophrenic drug addict who finds friendship with Nick Stahl's Dylan. It is the story of a young man who fakes his own funeral to see who will show up, befriends Rose's Charlie and is reunited with an old love from his past (Amy Smart). In result, the lives of these three characters are transformed by supernatural forces as Dylan discovers that no one is who they seem to be. "I'm having an amazing and fulfilling time," Rose said on the set of the film. "I love my castmates, the director and the kindest producers I've ever worked with." Dead Awake saw a limited North American release on December 3, 2010 and was released on DVD and Blu-ray shortly after.

A Rose in bloom.

Rose McGowan's next big screen venture was Marcus Nispel's Conan the Barbarian (2011), which was filmed in Bulgaria during the spring of 2010. Rose kicked ass and took names in the role of Marique, an evil half-human, half-witch. Based on the Robert E. Howard books, Conan the Barbarian centers on the mythical hero driven to avenge the murder of his father and the slaughter of his village. The film was released on August 19, 2011. In their review of the film, Hollywood Reporter noted that "Rose McGowan's snakelike witch is pure villainy" while Den of Geek said that Rose is "seemingly having the time of her life portraying a monstrous lunatic, which all adds to the films' unashamed craziness."

McGowan next took on the role of radio talk show psychiatrist Dr. Sonny Blake in Rosewood Lane (2011). As she moves back to her hometown, Sonny discovers that the neighborhood is terrified of the local paperboy. When he starts to exhibit abnormal abilities and wage a war of terror on her, Sonny begins to doubt her own sanity. The Victor Salva directed thriller premiered at ScreamFest on October 15, 2011.

Also in 2011, Rose appeared in the Lifetime movie The Pastor's Wife, which centers on the 2006 death of Matthew Winkler (Michael Shanks), a beloved minister and community leader who was mysteriously shot and killed in his Tennessee, home. During their investigation, the authorities zero in on Matthew’s wife, Mary, played by McGowan. The film showcases a completely different side of Rose. As Mary Winkler, a wife and a mother of three children, she is soft-spoken, timid and even invisible to those around her - quite a departure from the roles Rose is best known for! However, as the title of the movie implies, The Pastor’s Wife puts the actress and her character front and center of the story, which allows Rose to act out a wide range of intense emotions. McGowan received warm reviews for her rerformance. Variety noted that: "While McGowan has a diverse resume, she's perfectly convincing as the Southern wife who can solemnly drawl of her late husband, 'I could never do anything right in his eyes.'"

In October 2011, Rose headed down to New Orleans to film The Tell-Tale Heart, a film adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic short story of the same title. Rose portrays Ariel, a character specifically written for the John La Tier directed movie. "Poe’s story does not have a female character in it, so I was very curious to see how that would be woven into the script. It’s really seamless and it almost seems like it could be part of the original story, and I think Poe would be very pleased," said McGowan. The Tell-Tale Heart is due for release in August 2012. In 2011, Rose showed her comedic chops as the iconic cartoon sexpot Betty Boop in a hilarious Funny or Die trailer parody titled Boop. In 2012, she made a cameo appearance in the music video for Hollywood by RAC.

After Rose's critically acclaimed performances in Planet Terror and The Pastor's Wife, she is surely to be seen more on the silver screen. As Robert Rodriguez puts it: "Rose is so unique, captivating, witty, beautiful, and yet hilariously self-deprecating that I just remember asking her in complete befuddlement, 'Where have you been? You should be starring in movies.' I immediately felt a sense of responsibility to get her not just back onto the big screen but to put her front and center." And that is exactly where McGowan belongs.

Rose McGowan is currently residing in Los Angeles with her dogs Happy and Sasquatch. Unfortunately, her two other beloved pups Fester and Bug passed away in 2008 and 2010, respectively. In her free time Rose enjoys baking, karaoke, traveling and collects vintage furniture. McGowan is a great dog lover and is involved with The Boston Terrier Rescue Net. She also tirelessly lobbies for LGBT rights, and campaigned against Proposition 8, which sought to ban same sex marriage in the state of California. Rose actively supports AIDS awareness and research. In 2011, Rose was named the Ambassador for Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis, with the mission of building awareness to fight the lung disease that took her father's life in 2009. Her future dreams include filming a Clara Bow biopic and recording her own album.

"I'm a pretty swell gal," Rose says. "I don't mean any harm to anybody. Generally speaking, for a melancholy person, I'm pretty happy."

Note: This is not an official biography. All information has been gathered from various interviews and articles and is accurate according to our best knowledge. For more details regarding Rose's movies and relationships, please see their individual information pages.

Biography © Rose-McGowan.com, 2007-2012
Last Updated: June 2012