In her latest national media profile, Harvey Weinstein accuser Rose McGowan tells Vanity Fair that director and her former lover Robert Rodriguez betrayed her to the man she calls “my monster.” Now Rodriguez is responding, accusing VF of making “factual errors” but insisting he has “‘no quarrel”‘ with McGowan.
Confused? Welcome to Hollywood in the midst of the current shouting over decades of alleged sexual misconduct. At the start of 2018, the attacks on alleged predators are shifting to include attacks on that ever-handy scapegoat, the media.
McGowan, one of USA TODAY’s and Time magazine’s people of the year for being “silence breakers” about Weinstein and other powerful men in the entertainment industry, is the subject of a profile in VF‘s February edition on newsstands next week. The article, by Evgenia Peretz, focuses on McGowan as she prepares to publish her upcoming memoir, Brave, and “discusses the web of cruelty and complicity that she is determined to expose.”
Rodriguez disputes his depiction in the article, saying Peretz did not ask him for comment or clarification.
“It is deeply disappointing that the fact checkers at publishing house HarperOne did not reach out to me either,” he says about the publisher of McGowan’s book in a statement sent to USA TODAY by his representative, Eric Rose. “As a result, there are some key factual errors in the piece. These inaccuracies may appear to put me at odds with Rose, but I have no quarrel with her.”
To recap: McGowan, 44, accuses Weinstein of raping her at a hotel during the Sundance Film Festival in 1997; he denies this. At the time, she reached a $100,000 settlement with him that required her to keep silent about the encounter, but it was revealed in October in The New York Times‘ blockbuster investigation of decades of Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct.
Now McGowan has become the loudest and angriest voice in the army of accusers who have helped bring down scores of powerful figures in Hollywood, media, politics and business over the last few months.
Rodriguez, who directed her in several movies, says he has been her champion; he issued a long statement in October in which he described how McGowan told him of her allegation against Weinstein, and how he believed her.
“As one of the first victims to come forward with stories of sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein, Rose McGowan is a very brave woman who I applaud for speaking out about Weinstein’s repulsive behavior,” his then-statement opened.
But the new VF article describes one “gripping” chapter in McGowan’s memoir in which she describes her affair with Rodriguez (Spy Kids, From Dusk till Dawn), “a smooth-talking, sensitive-seeming guy who turned out to be a Svengali,” Peretz writes. In 2005, Rodriguez and director Quentin Tarantino wanted McGowan to star in a double feature they were planning based on pulp movies of the 1970s.
Who are the accused?: List: All of the Hollywood power players accused of sexual assault or harassment
“McGowan fell hard and fast, trusting Rodriguez enough to tell him about her experience with Weinstein,” Peretz writes. “He proceeded to use the knowledge against her, she claims, as a tool for mind games, starting with a scene in which Tarantino, playing a character in his movie, attacks McGowan’s character…In what McGowan interpreted as the ultimate act of cruelty, Rodriguez ‘sold our film to my monster.’ “
Peretz describes McGowan as believing she was supposed to “gather information” from the often disturbing experiences of her life. “Even with Rodriguez, as brutal as it was, it was all gathering data. Unfortunately, I am the data. It was a sacrifice. But I knew from a very early age that this messaging system was very, very wrong and needed to be brought down,” she tells Peretz.
Rodriguez disputes Peretz’ reporting. He says he did not “sell” the movie to Weinstein and his company because “they had a first look on my next project, and I owed them two more after that.” He says he met McGowan in April 2005, months before Weinstein began funding the first film in the double feature so it was already an official Weinstein movie for at least five months before production began on the second film.
“There was certainly ample time for Rose to decide not to be in a film funded by the Weinsteins and reject the movie and the script before shooting ever began,” Rodriguez said in his statement. “And if she ever had a problem with making the movie for them I would have completely understood, changed the role, and cast someone else.”
The scene in the Tarantino film where the rapist taunts the character played by McGowan was in every draft of the script from the beginning and wasn’t filmed until five months later, he says. There was never any objection, he says.
“In fact, the point of the scene was always to be empowering because it’s when her character turns the tables against her oppressors,” he said.
Rodriguez blamed the media for the dispute and reiterated his support for McGowan and her reckoning campaign against sexual misconduct.
“It’s when publications don’t fact check these basic things, you end up with something inaccurate that then has to be disqualified,” he said. “And I don’t want to have to disqualify it because I agree with what Rose is trying to do overall, which is continue to push for change both in our industry and beyond.”
A spokesperson for Vanity Fair did not return a message from USA TODAY seeking comment on Rodriguez’ statement.