Rose McGowan helped bring down Harvey Weinstein after allegedly being assaulted by the movie mogul. Picture: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
Rose McGowan helped bring down Harvey Weinstein after allegedly being assaulted by the movie mogul. Picture: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

‘These motherf**kers built a beast’

"I WISH I had more middle fingers."

After years of screaming the truth to closed doors, Rose McGowan has finally been given the opportunity to tell her story, starting from the moment in October that changed everything: when The New York Times and The New Yorker both published explosive articles detailing decades of Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual misconduct.

Over the past few months, the high-profile take-down of powerful men like Weinstein has opened the floodgates, destroying everything we thought we knew about the Hollywood dream, and exposing a dark and sinister underbelly.

Never before has the raw, emotional, ugly truth of the world's shiniest town been flipped around for everyone to see. And it's largely due to the voice of people like McGowan, the actor-turned-activist who claims she spent the past 20 years trapped in the Hollywood vortex, trying to bring Weinstein (or "The Monster" as she calls him) to justice for allegedly raping her.

Once upon a time, McGowan was a rising star in Hollywood. She appeared in a string of films, including Bio-Dome, Scream and Jawbreaker, before landing the plum role of Paige Matthews in cult supernatural series Charmed.

McGowan (right) in Jawbreaker.
McGowan (right) in Jawbreaker.

In her new docu-series, Citizen Rose, the actor describes the emptiness and confusion she felt as her career began to soar.

"I was young when I was discovered, and all of a sudden there was the spotlight," she says.

"I didn't understand the politics of this town ... You get caught up in this weird machine, then you get turned into a human Barbie doll. Sex symbols are kept in this very infantilised place, used harshly, for short periods of time, and have to live and figure out who they are in relation to a complete false identity built around them."

In one poignant moment, as she gazes over a blurry painting in her home, McGowan reflects on how trapped she'd felt at the peak of her fame.

"I believe art shows you exactly where you are when you buy it. I was on a show called Charmed, and I was so lost, I was so invisible. Nobody could see who I was. I couldn't see who I was," she says, before pointing to another piece of art.

"That girl, she's a bound and gagged ballerina in a cage, and that's exactly what my life felt like."

Holly Combs, Alyssa Milano and Rose McGowan in Charmed.
Holly Combs, Alyssa Milano and Rose McGowan in Charmed.

Despite heavy exposure in the late '90s and early '00s, somewhere along the way, her star started to wane.

Sure, it happens a lot in the movie business - even the brightest futures can go dim after one or two average movies, but McGowan is convinced there was something more sinister at work.

"If you guys have ever known anything about me, anything at all, you're like, 'huh, who's that kind of ... that kind of weirdo?' Do you ever wonder why you think that? Do you ever wonder who's telling you that?" she asks the camera, in an emotionless voice, as headlines from over the years featuring her name flash up on the screen.

"Rose McGowan dumped by agent after her public remarks about Hollywood sexism."

"Sorry ladies, horizontal stripes DO make you look fat!"

"Rose McGowan files for divorce."

"Rose McGowan shaves her head."

"Rose McGowan sex tape leaks."

"Rose McGowan's rant gets her disinvited from political events."

"Do you ever wonder who's paying them to tell you that? It's delivered down to you through media, through the propaganda machine. It's very obvious ... The sad thing is, I'm just trying to get people to stop raping and killing us."

The idea of a smear campaign may once have been dismissed as hysterical, but the new lens through which Hollywood itself is being shown gives credence to many possibilities in this post-#MeToo era.

Last year, it emerged that Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd had been black-listed from movies after their dealings with Weinstein - a claim verified by director Peter Jackson, who worked with the disgraced mogul's former company Miramax on the Lord Of The Rings.

McGowan's own horrifying experience with Weinstein has been laid bare for the first time in the series, which she claims occurred while she was in the middle of doing her second movie with him.

The young actor, then in her early 20s, arranged a breakfast meeting with the influential producer to discuss her future with the company. After arriving at the restaurant, she was told by the maître d' that Weinstein had sent word that he was still on a call, and requested she meet him upstairs in his room.

Naively, McGowan explains, she thought nothing of it and headed straight there.

"When I got up there, two male assistants come out, and I'm like, 'good morning', all chipper, and they wouldn't look me in the face. I was like, 'They're not very friendly,'" she says.

"I go in, and I had an MTV camera crew following me that morning - it was supposed to be 'Rose McGowan, A Day In The Life.' I turn to the cameras right as I went into the hotel room and go, 'I think my life is finally getting easier.'

"And that haunted me because I felt like, goddammit, I jinxed myself."

In the days, months and years following the alleged attack, McGowan has been traumatised by the constant reminders.

"I get to turn on the TV and see Gwyneth Paltrow giving [Weinstein] the humanitarian award. I open the paper, there's his face. I go to the movies, there's his name. This town adulates him, it's disgusting."

Earlier this month, a war of the words erupted between McGowan and Meryl Streep over her - and many others' - decision to wear black to the Golden Globes to protest sexual harassment in Hollywood.

"Actors, like Meryl Streep, who happily worked for The Pig Monster, are wearing black @GoldenGlobes in a silent protest," McGowan tweeted at the time. "YOUR SILENCE is THE problem. You'll accept a fake award breathlessly & affect no real change. I despise your hypocrisy."

In one part of Citizen Rose, the actor clarifies her issue with the black dress movement, branding it a PR stunt.

"I feel strongly that a lot of these women and men are well-meaning and well-intentioned, but you see I know ... who's behind it: [the Creative Arts Agency]. And they're trying to resurrect their image because I've accused them of human trafficking because they knowingly sent women to profit off of their bodies," McGowan said.

"Its not just dresses. It's a lie."

Whatever happens next, McGowan makes it clear that her war on Hollywood's sex abuse culture is far from over.

"The overall goal, really is to destroy the propaganda machine. While I'm trying to destroy the machine, it's trying to destroy me. But you know what? These motherf**kers built a beast."


Citizen Rose is now streaming on HayU.

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