Rose McGowan

The way the machinery that is Hollywood works today and the way society thinks now can be attributed to few women and one of them is most certainly Rose McGowan, known for roles in films such as “Encino Man,” “The Doom Generation,” “Scream,” “Death Proof” and “Planet Terror” and the hit TV series “Charmed.” But multi-talented and creative McGowan is also an author, director, music artist, entrepreneur and a major agent of cultural change. Her mission is to awaken and inspire humans to become brave in their own lives, and raise consciousness. Through powerful public speaking, Rose McGowan covers a wide range of subjects, which include empowerment, enlightenment and giving us the tools to be ten percent better in own own lives. Recently, she has received the DLD Impact award, been named one of Time Magazine’s Persons of the Year, and was honored with her own category of “Inspiration” at the GQ Man of the Year Awards in London, in the Summer of 2018. Founder of the eponymous #RoseArmy, she has emerged as a powerful voice for the voiceless and an activist who simply wants us to become the brave humans we are all born to be. McGowan has resonantly kicked down doors to make sure sexual assault and other criminal behavior towards women stop at last.

Tara Karajica caught up with her at this year’s Odesa International Film Festival.





Your relationship with Hollywood is tricky to say the least – you have denounced it and continue to do so. You also said that celebrity is ephemeral and like “the dirt under your glossily painted fingernails.” Can you talk about this relationship?

Rose McGowan: It’s a very complex relationship that I have with Hollywood, obviously. I love it and I hate it. I hated for so many years how I was treated and how I saw other women get treated. What people don’t understand is how people get treated behind the scenes is how they’re treated on the screen; is how we’re treated in the world. And it directly goes to this male gaze propaganda that gets spread to everybody and other people in the world don’t realize what’s happening. So if we can clean up behind the scenes, then we can be better on the screen and better in the world.

Feminism has never played out well in Hollywood either, has it?

R.M.G.: No, you can say that. Hollywood was really started by women. Dorothy Arzner… She was one of the first directors – period. Not just female. And once Wall Street came in; once the money guys came in, it turned all male predominantly. And that’s just the problem. I don’t have a problem with men. I have a problem with men stealing the world. It should be 50/50.

I agree! In that sense, what kind of change have you perceived in the last year and a half, and what does Hollywood really have to do in order to really, really change?

R.M.G.: Well, I think Hollywood is a bit of a dinosaur and a lot of their movies don’t even work with people anymore because they’re outdated, so I think that in order for them to even survive, they just need to be better as humans. It’s hard because there are a lot of sociopaths there, but I have heard that sets are a lot safer now, that women are being treated differently and that people are listening for the first time, so I am happy with that. But I am happier with how the world is. It’s like a ten percent shift. I’m pleased with the world at large because it’s something that has hit every industry. I was watching a movie on the airplane with Cameron Diaz and two other women; it was a silly movie, but it was directed by a man and I was like: “You missed so many opportunities!” because he doesn’t know what women are really like and I actually know that director and he’s very macho. I was like: “Why would you do that?!” If you’re going to make a movie about women, then understand women in a different way and if you can’t, what are you doing?

In that sense, bringing more women behind the camera in Hollywood and elsewhere has been on the agenda lately. How do you perceive the situation now in terms of women in film and TV, purely from a creative point of view?

R.M.G.: Ukraine has more women in film than Hollywood. Probably, people wouldn’t expect that. So I know it can be done. It’s not that difficult. Everyone’s like: “It’s getting better!” But for a long time, there have been these organizations called Women in Film and TV and all they would do is get up at luncheons and talk about depressing statistics, but not do anything about it. I think that just like there are people that won’t sit on the board that’s not 50/50 women – a board for like a CEO of a company – that’s how it should be in Hollywood too. It should reflect popular culture because we’re giving culture a mirror to look in. And I like being on sets with women cinematographers. I directed a movie that had a woman cinematographer. And it’s just a really symbiotic, full relationship that you can forge and it’s also like: “we’re just humans.” It’s not even behind the camera or on a set. It’s not about “I’m a girl.” It’s just about doing your job.

Exactly! And speaking about jobs, you said that acting isn’t for you anymore. Why? Would you consider doing it outside of Hollywood like for instance in Europe, Australia or Asia?

R.M.G.: I would love to act in Europe! I would love to act anywhere! But Hollywood has blacklisted me because I spoke out, but they’ve blacklisted me before because they were all falling in line with what a bad guy wanted. They’re scared people and there’s nothing to be scared of and it steals when they do that. They steal from the public and they steal your career. I can say I don’t want to act anymore, but also there’s people who don’t want me to act anymore, so it’s 50/50.

In that regard, you said you haven’t been offered a role in three years. Would you consider taking your acting in your own hands and creating your own production company where you would set the rules and tell the stories you want to tell the way you want to tell them?

R.M.G.: Yes! But as that, I would just prefer to direct and not act in my movies. I’ve never felt a great need to be on camera. Because I was discovered, I didn’t have the same desire to be famous that a lot of other actors especially in Hollywood would seem to have. In Europe, it’s more about the acting, it’s more about the art of it, I’ve noticed. In Hollywood, it’s a lot more about wanting to be famous. And of course, there are really good actors there and people who just want to do the work, but there’s also a huge part of it that’s about fame and I prefer directing. I like creating my own world. But I don’t have to be in that world. I am not selfish that way.

What would a film you’d direct look like? Are you working on something right now?

R.M.G.: Yes! I’m working on a psychological thriller called Sleepwalk and it’s about a young girl that is forced into marriage with an older man and he starts to really control her. She has all these dreams and fantasies about what marriage is supposed to be like and she sleepwalks; she walks around at night outside and sees things. I like showing what’s done to girls in society when they’re controlled and why we need to be free of that.

Like so many of your fellow actresses, you have made the pivot – you have written a book, directed a short film, talked about a potential skincare line and your album is also about to drop… Why is there that necessity to be something other than just an actress?

R.M.G.: I think as an artist, I can do many things. I don’t have to be labelled just as an actress. A lot of people thought I had someone else write my book for me. I wrote every word that was in there. And that was really important to me because I am really a strong writer. Why would I have somebody else tell my story? I think it’s important in life to do whatever you want and I don’t know why people limit themselves to saying they’re the label on their car. I don’t like labels. And I try to do whatever I want to do when I want to do it. I think that’s kind of the best way for me to live and I hope other people can live that way too.

Can you talk about your book, Brave? What is being brave, according to you?

R.M.G.: Being brave means being scared. But it just means doing the scary thing anyway. That’s what it means. Everyone thinks if you’re brave, you’re never scared and I disagree with that. I think you have to go through it. You can’t be truly brave unless you walk through fire; unless you walk through your fears.

You also said you’d always look up to a woman in a man’s world. Who do you look up to? Why?

R.M.G.: Who do I look up to…? I look up to Malala. I look up to Angela Merkel. Even Theresa May. I don’t agree with her politics, but she stepped in as Prime Minister in England when nobody else was going to. A man quits the job because it was too hard, so a woman comes in and tries to clean it up. Again, I respect people that try to make the world different for everybody else, not just themselves.

And in film, who is your inspiration? Do you have a favorite female filmmaker?

 R.M.G.: I love Agnès Varda. Sadly, she just died. She was amazing! I think Claire Denis is also amazing. Andrea Arnold is great. There are some great, great directors out there…

What is your favorite role that you played? And if you had to write a role for yourself, what would it be like?

R.M.G.: The role that was closest to me is Planet Terror. It wasn’t my favorite set experience – that’s a different thing; it was a pretty horrible set experience – but as far as the role goes, I loved it! What I would want to play? I would want to play someone who can be both strong and weak at the same time – just like we are in real life. I would love to do something with directors that are more arts-based.

According to you, why has growing up in a cult provided you with essential survival skills?

R.M.G.: I think because it was so intense. I could see how society worked in such an intense way that when I came out in the regular society, the regular world, I could see that people were being brainwashed without even knowing it because when it’s less intense, you don’t realize what’s happening to you – the mind control. So I’ve always been anti-mind control. It’s something that’s enabled me to have good survival instincts and those have certainly saved me over the years, but sometimes, they failed me because I am not jaded. Every time I meet someone, I hope for the best.

Can you talk about the power of female anger? So many people think that if we’re angry, we’re hysterical or we’re just boxed in. It creates discomfort and people don’t like discomfort…

R.M.G.: I don’t really care what people like. I think anger is a really important emotion. It gets things done. We, women have been done many injustices over History; if anybody has the right to be angry, it’s us, but people think that if you’re angry, you’re going to be angry all the time. But you’re not happy all the time… You’re not sad all the time… If emotions are like paint in your paint box, who are you to take that emotion from me just because you’re uncomfortable? Sometimes, life is uncomfortable!

Resilience is something that defines you. Can you talk about being resilient and finding beauty in a world that hasn’t always been kind to you?

R.M.G.:  I find beauty everywhere and I think Art is everywhere and Art is hugely important. I find the most beauty in colors, in shapes and doing photography and expressing myself in different ways. Resilience is… I am resilient, I know that. Those last couple years almost killed me, but I’m still here and I am doing really well despite all these people trying to drive me insane because it would’ve suited them better if I was quiet, but I don’t really care what they want because they’re bad people. I think resilience is something that’s earned. And I think so many women are resilient. We have to be because what’s our option?

What is next for you?

R.M.G: Next for me is my show at the Fringe Festival and I have some shows in October. I do a lot of public speaking – I talk a lot about bravery and how to be better as human beings, so I will continue to do that and I will continue to try and make the world a better place for everybody.



This interview was conducted at the 2019 Odesa International Film Festival. 

Tara Karajica

Tara Karajica is a Belgrade-based film critic and journalist. Her writings have appeared in "Indiewire," "Screen International," "Variety," "Little White Lies" and "Film New Europe," among many other media outlets, including the European Film Academy’s online magazine, "Close-up" and Eurimages. She is a member of the European Film Academy, the Online Film Critics Society and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists as well as the recipient of the 2014 Best Critic Award at the Altcine Action! Film Festival. In September 2016, she founded "Yellow Bread," a magazine dedicated entirely to short films, ranked among the 25 Top Short Film Blogs and Websites on the Planet in 2017. In February 2018, she launched "Fade to Her," a magazine about successful women working in Film and TV and in 2019, she was a member of the Jury of the European Shooting Stars (European Film Promotion). She is currently a programmer for live action shorts at PÖFF Shorts, Head of the Short Film Program and Live Action Shorts programmer at SEEFest and Narrative Features Programmer at the Durban International Film Festival. Tara is a regular at film festivals as a film critic, moderator and/or jury member.

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