Revelations From Rose McGowan’s Book ‘Brave’Published on February 5, 2018. Updated September 4, 2019
In her new memoir Brave, Rose McGowan doesn’t hold back. While many events in her life are already public knowledge, in her book she shared even more details about her unconventional upbringing, her family, her experiences in Hollywood, and some of her romantic relationships with celebrity men. Here are 18 of the most shocking revelations from McGowan’s book Brave:
18. Mental Illness in Her Family
Mental illness runs in her family. Her grandmother was mentally fragile, and when she found out that her husband, Rose’s grandfather, had taken up with a Korean woman while he was away at war, her bouts of mental illness became impossible to control. Her father also struggled with mental illness. Rose believes that he suffered from bipolar disorder. When he was manic, he was “bright” and “funny,” but when he was depressed, he was verbally abusive and at times violent. She lived with him for a period during her teenage years, and according to her, he would terrorize her, calling her a “feminazi” and a “whore.” He never even bought her a bed to sleep in and told her that she “wasn’t worth buying a bed for,” so her room was in the closet where she slept on seat cushions. One night, he got violent with her and “dragged [her] out of the closet and onto the floor.” When she threatened to call the cops, he told her that he would “staple [her] tongue to the floor.” Later in life, Rose was diagnosed with cyclothymia, a mood disorder. She takes a mood stabilizer to help manage it.
17. Her Creepy Stepdad
The Scream actress’ father wasn’t the only abusive man in her life. After leaving the cult, Children of God, her mother took up with a guy named Lawrence. According to McGowan, he was especially creepy. He would force her and his 14-year-old daughter to take baths together while he watched. He would also listen in on phone calls on McgGowan and her siblings would have with their dad to make sure they didn’t tell them about what was going on in her mom’s home and would monitor the mail as well. After one of her mom and Lawrence’s breakups, he “drove around in his pickup truck with a shotgun threatening to kill [her] mom” and it later came out that he had been molesting his own daughter, Mary, after she had pressed charges.
16. Sent to Drug Rehab in Grade 8
After trying LCD for the first time in grade eight at a school dance, the actress-turned-activist’s new stepdad Steve convinced her mother that Rose had all the “earmarks” of a “drug addict” even though she had never tried any other drugs besides that one hit of acid. A couple weeks later, she was dropped off at drug rehab. She was very unhappy about being there, so she ran away and began living on the streets.
15. Life on the Streets
She spent months living on the street when she was 13. One night she slept under a church’s porch and awoke to her street friend being assaulted. She briefly lived with a stripper named Tina and robbed her family’s home to pay her portion of Tina’s heating bill. She then began bouncing around from Oregon to Idaho to Las Vegas by convincing police officers to buy her bus tickets so that she could find her mother. Eventually, she tired of this and called her aunt in Seattle, Washington, and she sent Rose a ticket.
14. Being Charged with Abuse on a Police Officer
While living with her father in Seattle, the Charmed actress threw a rager one night when he was out of town and it didn’t take long for the party to get out of hand. The police quickly shut down the party and when McGowan tried to pretend that she was just a partygoer one of the police officers assaulted her. “The next thing I knew, I was picked up by my throat and slammed against the wall of the apartment building, a cop’s nightstick buckling my knees while he held me up by my hair and smashed the back of my head into the brick wall,” she wrote. Although her head had been cracked open by the police officer, she was charged with assault on a police officer. She wrote, “The report alleged I had walked up to him and kicked him in the shins.” She was found guilty and was sentenced to working at a mental institution for outpatients.
13. Assaulted by a Crew Member on First Film Set
To earn money to pay her father $300 in rent a month, she got a job as an extra on the film set of The Class of 1999. One weekend, one of the crew members – a man in his forties – invited her to walk around downtown with him and some of the extras. When she arrived at his hotel to meet him in the lobby, the front desk told her to go upstairs to meet him. “I went expecting to see my Black Heart extra gang, but no it was just me. The door opened and I got pulled in right into his chest,” she wrote. “His beard scratched me as he jammed his tongue down my throat. It all happened so fast. He promptly pulled down my shirt and fondled my breasts. Of course, it was me who felt dirty and ashamed.” While she initially thought of the incident as a sexual experience, as an adult she realized it was assault.
12. Abusive Relationship with Hollywood Scion
Following her role as a featured extra in Class of 1999, McGowan moved to Hollywood to pursue an acting career and finish high school. She and her mother became roommates briefly, but then her mother left her to live with her new boyfriend and left Rose in the care of her new boyfriend William, a Hollywood scion who she’d only been dating for a few weeks. According to Rose, he was incredibly jealous and would fly off the handle if she “so much as looked at a waiter.” She found herself becoming quite dependent on him for everything from food and rides to shelter. She stayed with him for three and a half years because she had no alternative living arrangements. Their living situation became more problematic when William got into drugs and began behaving even more erratically. One night he tried to strangle her while she was sleeping and then dragged her outside, tearing two of her toenails off in the process.
11. Suffering from Anorexia
While living with William, McGowan became an anorexic after he pointed out that she had “upside down triangles” on the tops of her legs. “I went after those thigh triangles with a vengeance. William bought me a Step aerobics bench to exercise on. I got a Cher workout tape, played it over and over and over, four to six hours a day, sound off on the tape, Nirvana playing on repeat as I went up and down, around and around. I was obsessed.” William would also buy McGowan copies of Marie Claire, Glamour and Vogue for “thinspiration.” She was so thin at one point that she was 92 pounds, but because she’d read about other girls who were able to get down to 84 pounds, she “felt like a failure.”
10. Getting Out of the Abusive Relationship
When she met Chrysalis Music Group A&R exec Brett Cantor, he helped her to get out of her relationship. He arranged for her to stay with one of his friends and she managed to get some money by selling William’s grand piano and stealing his Ford Explorer and trading it in for another car. Unfortunately, after leaving William, Brett was suddenly murdered inside his Hollywood home, which threw Rose into a tailspin. She ended up dating his brother, Cliff, and it was soon after this that she was discovered yet again and she landed a part in the indie flick The Doom Generation.
9. Assault by Co-Star
According to the Chosen actress, one of her male co-stars in The Doom Generation assaulted her with a water bottle on set. “We were shooting a scene with the actor and me in the front seat of a car. The director and cameraman were in the backseat, filming a close-up while the male actor gave me my lines from off camera. All of a sudden I felt something wet under my skirt, and an insistent pushing pressure on my vagina. The actor had taken a bottle of water under my skirt to spray and push onto my privates. I froze. Then I snapped,” she wrote. The male actor has since apologized for his behavior, but the director, Gregg Araki, questioned her memory.
8. Emotional Struggles Following Her Assault
In Brave, the Grindhouse star doesn’t mention Harvey Weinstein by name. Instead, she refers to him as The Monster. Following his assault on her in a Jacuzzi in his hotel suite and hearing that he called every studio head and independent producer in Hollywood and told them not to hire her, Rose wanted to press charges but she was told she’d never win. She then began suffering from nightmares and would wake up screaming and sweating profusely.
7. Relationship with Marilyn Manson
McGowan met Marilyn Manson at the premiere for the indie movie Gummo, but before they met, she had heard that he had a crush on her. According to her, he was a very considerate and loving boyfriend. His song, “Coma White,” was about her life story. During their relationship, she put his career ahead of her own and didn’t work for about three and a half years. When they broke up, he shocked her when he went on Howard Stern and trashed her pretty badly. She didn’t see this coming because he had been such a kind and attentive boyfriend.
6. Getting Mauled by Fans at the Vatican
She was chased out of the Vatican by about 30 German tourists and one of them had the audacity to grab a chunk of her hair out of her head as a souvenir. “I clung on to the old stone buildings trying to get away, and then finally, the crowd caught up to me,” she wrote. “I was cornered. I flattened myself against the wall. I remember thinking, ‘we’re all at the Vatican. Isn’t seeing Michelangelo’s work more important than someone on television?’ I was sweating and scared. I was being jostled as someone pushed through the crowd, I thought to help me. Instead a man grabbed my hair and yanked a small clump out. I screamed and pushed, but wasn’t being let out of the circle.”
5. Dysfunctional Relationship with Hollywood Director
After meeting at Cannes, the Jawbreaker actress began a relationship with a Hollywood director RR (believed to be Robert Rodriguez). Although he was married when they first met, he ended up officially separating from his wife to be with Rose. Their relationship quickly became dysfunctional. He encouraged her to cut off all contact with her friends and family and would go on these jealous rages. According to Rose, “If he saw an old photo of me with any ex-boyfriend, or heard any reference to one of them, it would set him off into a rage where he’d do something utterly brilliant like throw his laptop out the window. Obviously because of the press he knew whom I’d gone out with in the past and it drove him crazy,” she wrote. There was one scene in Planet Terror (which he was directing her in) where she had to kiss her co-star, Freddy Rodriguez. A week before they shot the scene, RR began growing out of his facial hair and then when it came time to film the kissing scene he banished everyone from set except for him and Rose. He then shaved his beard exactly like Freddy and then stood in for him in the scene.
4. Almost Replaced by Jessica Alba in Planet Terror
As things on the set of Planet Terror became more and more tumultuous, RR at one point called Jessica Alba in front of Rose to ask her to come take over her role. “In front of me he called Jessica Alba to ask her if she would step in and complete the film for me because it didn’t look like I was going to be able to. He did it just to torture me; I didn’t even know if she was really on the phone. I sat down and cried. I’m still not sure if she was on the line at all or if he was just pretending to speak to her,” she wrote.
3. Hollywood Director Accused Her of an Affair with Quentin Tarantino
RR threatened to fire her at one point during filming of Grindhouse because he suspected her of being in love with Quentin Tarantino and of wanting to sleep with him, and to prove it he made her take a lie detector test. This caused McGowan to have a panic attack, but luckily, she was able to procure some valium before she took the test. When the lie detector test ended up being inconclusive, he told her to get back on set cause they still had six hours of filming to do.
2. Arm Injury on the Set of Grindhouse
During a scene in Grindhouse where Rose had to do a backbend over another actress, she ended up seriously injuring her dominant arm, causing severe nerve damage. Somehow, she managed to complete the film, but she began to lose control of her arm afterward. “My arm got more and more painful. I was losing complete control of my arm. I looked like a skeleton. I was a very physical person: fight training, boxing, stunts. Now I couldn’t hold a pencil or a fork with that hand without shooting pain that is unknowable unless you’ve suffered from nerve damage – it’s like an electrical storm inside your own body,” she wrote. When she told RR that she needed surgery, he insisted that she not claim it on his company’s insurance, which meant that she had to spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on it herself. She needed two surgeries on her wrist and two on her elbow and she still to this day lives with pain and is unable to be as physical as she was before the injury.
1. Botched Sinus Surgery
After getting surgery on her arm, the actress-turned-director decided to get sinus surgery to fix her breathing issues, but something went terribly wrong. “Somehow going from above my sinus cavity and underneath my right eye, a puncture was made through my skin. I still don’t understand. I was told by the doctor to go home and that under eyes don’t scar. I kept waiting for the hole to heal, but it didn’t. After a week, I went to a plastic surgeon. He immediately performed a surgery to make the hole a thin line,” she wrote. Her issues with the surgery didn’t end there and she needed reconstructive surgery to fix it. “I had to get reconstructive surgery on that eye, and then, because the procedure pinched the eye a tiny bit higher, I had to get my other eye slightly done to match it, by one millimetre,” she wrote. For the next year, she had to visit a doctor four times a week and get needles in the scar to try and break up the scar tissue.