Rose’s thorny re­la­tion­ship with Metoo col­league

Rose Mcgowan tells Celia Walden why the two main We­in­stein ac­cusers have fallen out

The Daily Telegraph - - Front Page -

‘It’s been a long time since any­one’s told me a sex­ist joke,” says Rose Mcgowan, with a smile, “so I can’t say whether I still find them funny. Why? Have you brought me a load?”

I did think up a few in the lift on the way up to the May­fair pen­t­house Mcgowan’s stay­ing in while in Lon­don, but now that I’m here op­po­site the 45-year-old for­mer Hol­ly­wood ac­tress (she’s in­sis­tent I write “for­mer” “be­cause I hope I’ll never act again”), I can’t re­mem­ber a sin­gle one. Tiny, shaven-headed and bare­foot, she man­ages to look both vul­ner­a­ble and fierce.

As the woman whose story of rape and abuse in Hol­ly­wood drove a rev­o­lu­tion from the mo­ment it was pub­lished in The New York Times on Oc­to­ber 5 last year, Mcgowan has be­come the voice and face of #Metoo. It has given her power, pur­pose and even her own hash­tag, #Rosearmy.

How­ever, all of this has made it hard for her to be seen as a nu­anced hu­man be­ing who might, say, laugh at a sex­ist joke “if it’s funny” and re­ject PC sug­ges­tions that “Man of the Match” be changed to “Player of the Match”. Cer­tainly no­body would have ex­pected her to join in open con­dem­na­tion of her fel­low #Metoo fig­ure­head, Asia Ar­gento, for the al­leged sex­ual as­sault of ac­tor Jimmy Ben­nett when he was still a mi­nor.

“What a night­mare,” she mur­murs, when I ask about Ar­gento, who came for­ward with al­le­ga­tions against Har­vey We­in­stein at the same time as Mcgowan. “She’s done a lot of good for the move­ment, and worked re­ally hard for it,” she says. “I don’t think it [the Ben­nett story] dis­cred­its the work she’s done, but it prob­a­bly will go­ing for­ward. I just don’t know how some­one picks up their life from where Asia is now.”

So when Rose Tweeted that the news was “heart­break­ing”, did she mean for the move­ment or her for­mer friend? “Both. But most of all I was heart­bro­ken for her chil­dren – this is bru­tal for them.”

Mcgowan is aware that any kind of sug­ges­tion of “in-fight­ing” could un­der­mine #Metoo’s achieve­ments. Do she and Ar­gento still talk? “No.”

While there was chat­ter of Mcgowan be­ing be­hind the leak of text mes­sages from Ar­gento, in which she ad­mit­ted to hav­ing had sex with a 17-year-old (the age of con­sent in Cal­i­for­nia is 18) to po­lice, it was, in fact, Mcgowan’s part­ner, the Louis Vuit­ton model Rain Dove Du­bilewski, who has ad­mit­ted to pass­ing the mes­sages on.

Does Mcgowan think Asia still blames her? “Prob­a­bly. But I’m cer­tainly not the per­son to blame. Asia’s just strik­ing out at any port in the storm. Any­thing to de­flect.” With Ar­gento now claim­ing that it was Ben­nett who as­saulted her, the whole thing “has got re­ally mucky”, says Mcgowan. “And, lis­ten: it’s not my story. The New York Times broke the news, and I can cer­tainly see why they thought it right to do that.”

Mcgowan agrees that her move­ment should “never have been turned into an ‘us and them’ thing”. She ar­gues: “If you’re a power abuser of ei­ther sex there is a cer­tain form of jus­tice that will be met.” Women have pri­mar­ily been seen as the vic­tims so far, she adds, but a woman she knows is be­ing ha­rassed by an­other well-known woman. “And a lot of men I know have been hurt by other men in LA. It’s just about clean­ing your house.”

Tus­can-born Mcgowan’s mis­sion to ex­pose the dark­est cor­ners of her in­dus­try be­gan well be­fore the We­in­stein scan­dal. And as the daugh­ter of two mem­bers of the Chil­dren of God cult, who de­scribes grow­ing up watch­ing girls and women be­ing abused by its male lead­ers in her mem­oir, Brave, Mcgowan was bet­ter equipped to spot the “cult-like struc­ture of Hol­ly­wood” than most.

It was how a young Mcgowan used to “the rules al­ways ben­e­fit­ing a cer­tain group at the top” be­lieved things had to be – un­til she de­cided she’d had enough. In 2016, she al­leged on Twitter that a “stu­dio head” had raped her. That same year, she be­gan work on Brave, in which she re­veals We­in­stein’s name, and de­tails the events that took place at the Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val in 1997. “I was putting Hol­ly­wood on no­tice,” says Mcgowan, who later told The New York

Times about the $100,000 (£76,000) set­tle­ment We­in­stein had paid her, af­ter the al­leged as­sault. And maybe that wasn’t so smart, she thinks now, be­cause once We­in­stein heard about the book “he did a lot more di­abol­i­cal things”.

She was bul­lied and in­tim­i­dated, she says. “Peo­ple would come up to me in Hol­ly­wood ask­ing ‘done any We­in­stein scripts re­cently?’ just to see if I would cry. And I had ex-mossad agents in my life, warn­ing me off.” A claim that sounds wild but is cor­rob­o­rated by The New York Times story. “They were in­tro­duced to me by my lit­er­ary agent, who was se­cretly work­ing with We­in­stein.” Mcgowan pub­lished her mem­oir re­gard­less, al­though she ad­mits now that what re­ally hap­pened that day “went fur­ther than what I wrote in the book – which was as much as I felt like shar­ing”. There is a long pause as she strug­gles with a thought. “He didn’t have to rape, you know? But he wanted to. And there are more vic­tims than we know about. The first vic­tim we know of was in the Seven­ties.”

Does she be­lieve We­in­stein was suffering from an ad­dic­tion? “Not a sex ad­dic­tion – a rape ad­dic­tion. It was about ex­ert­ing power. It was about his un­quench­able glute­nous ap­petite. He had as­sis­tants giv­ing him his medicine so that he could have an erec­tion so that he could go in and rape women. And please can we stop call­ing it a ‘cast­ing couch’. Let’s call it what it is; let’s call it a ‘rape couch’.”

We­in­stein – cur­rently on bail and wear­ing an elec­tronic tag – is fac­ing a raft of law­suits in ad­di­tion to the crim­i­nal charges. But Mcgowan be­lieves the pro­ducer’s aiders and abet­tors should also be pun­ished for their part in the al­leged rape and abuse.

“Awards sea­son made me want to vomit. They’re all so hyp­o­crit­i­cal. I just wanted to shout: ‘But you’ve all kept this quiet!’ The pins and all-black dress codes felt like peo­ple were danc­ing on my rape grave – like they were feed­ing off what had hap­pened. Bring­ing ac­tivists to cer­e­monies was just a way to neu­tralise things, be­cause there’s noth­ing Hol­ly­wood likes bet­ter than do­ing good press for it­self.”

De­spite her part in top­pling We­in­stein, Mcgowan says she was never in­vited to any of Hol­ly­wood’s #Metoo cam­paign brunches and “sur­vivors’ lunches”. “Not that I would have gone: I have no de­sire to be feted by peo­ple I don’t like.”

More than any­thing else, this makes me won­der how Mcgowan spent as long as she did in Hol­ly­wood. It also makes me won­der whether she might be try­ing to break #Metoo in or­der to con­cen­trate on #Rosearmy – and the new uni­sex beauty range, The Only, she in­tends to bring out next year – al­though she in­sists she’s “still a card-car­ry­ing mem­ber”. Be­fore I leave, we cir­cle back to which #Metoo per­mu­ta­tions are PC silli­ness – and which are help­ful. Mcgowan finds the French fines for wolf-whistling “funny” but has an is­sue with why all vir­tual as­sis­tants are named af­ter women: “So you can or­der them around?” What about the fuss around storms and hur­ri­canes al­ways be­ing named af­ter women? Here Mcgowan breaks into a broad smile: “I’ve al­ways wanted a hur­ri­cane named Rose.”

‘A lot of men I know have been hurt by other men’

Rose Mcgowan has re­vealed she no longer talks to Asia Ar­gento, her fel­low Metoo ac­tivist, fol­low­ing claims the ac­tress sex­u­ally as­saulted a teenage male ac­tor. She also de­scribes in her own words how she “put Hol­ly­wood on no­tice” over Har­vey We­in­stein.

Hol­ly­wood shaken: Mcgowan, above, with Asia Ar­gento, left, ac­cused Har­vey We­in­stein, be­low with Mcgowan, of rape

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