US actress Evan Rachel Wood says rocker Marilyn Manson raped her during video shoot

By: AFP
Published: 03:44 PM, 25 Jan, 2022
US actress Evan Rachel Wood says rocker Marilyn Manson raped her during video shoot
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US actress Evan Rachel Wood has accused goth rocker Marilyn Manson of raping her on camera during the filming of a music video for his 2007 hit single "Heart-Shaped Glasses."

Wood made the allegations -- which Manson denies -- in "Phoenix Rising," an HBO documentary premiering at the Sundance film festival on Sunday.

"We had discussed a simulated sex scene. But once the cameras were rolling, he started penetrating me for real," said Wood.

"I had never agreed to that."

Former child actress Wood began dating Manson -- whose real name is Brian Warner -- in 2006 when she was 18 and he was 37.

Manson said "Heart-Shaped Glasses" was inspired by seeing Wood wearing the glasses made famous on the movie poster for Stanley Kubrick's "Lolita."

"I didn't know how to advocate for myself or know how to say no, because I had been conditioned and trained to never talk back, to just soldier through," said Wood, star of TV series "Westworld."

"I could tell that the crew was very uncomfortable and nobody knew what to do.

"I was coerced into a commercial sex act under false pretenses... I was essentially raped on camera."

According to the documentary, Manson later pressured Wood to tell journalists there had been no actual sex during the filming of the video.

Wood's mother recounts hearing through a crew member that Manson was giving Wood absinthe "and whatever else," and that she was unable to consent when he went off script.

Manson's lawyer Howard King denied the allegation in a statement to AFP.

"Of all the false claims that Evan Rachel Wood has made about Brian Warner, her imaginative retelling of the making of the 'Heart-Shaped Glasses' music video 15 years ago is the most brazen and easiest to disprove, because there were multiple witnesses," he wrote.

King said Wood was "fully coherent" during the three-day shoot and "heavily involved in weeks of pre-production planning and days of post-production editing of the final cut."

"The simulated sex scene took several hours to shoot with multiple takes using different angles and several long breaks in between camera setups.

"Brian did not have sex with Evan on that set, and she knows that is the truth."

- 'Phoenix Rising' -

Manson has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault, including "Game of Thrones" actress Esme Bianco.

Los Angeles police last year confirmed they were investigating domestic violence allegations against the singer. 

Manson, who has long cultivated a controversial image with his ghostly make-up and stage name evoking serial killer Charles Manson, has parted ways with his record label Loma Vista Recordings and Hollywood agency CAA since the allegations became public.

But he continues to record music, appearing on Kanye West's album "Donda" last year.

"Phoenix Rising" documents efforts by Wood and other sexual assault survivors to extend the statute of limitations for sex crimes, allowing women more time to seek justice following abuse.

The Sundance film festival -- taking place online again this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic -- runs until January 30.

Abortion films offer stark warning at Sundance festival

With abortion rights under historic threat in the United States, directors brought three films to the Sundance festival that spotlight the grave dangers women face by undergoing or organizing illegal backstreet procedures.

Star-studded feature "Call Jane" and documentary "The Janes" portray the 1960s Chicago collective who helped connect pregnant women with underground doctors, while award-winning drama "Happening" follows a young woman who risked everything to procure an abortion in 1960s France.

"Having lived through that time -- believe me, we do not want to go back to that," said Sigourney Weaver, who stars in "Call Jane."

"I hope that we can engage the younger generation who have always had this and may have taken it for granted. Put the focus back on the woman herself," she added.

The festival has fallen on the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling establishing abortion rights in the US.

That constitutional right has come under steady attack as laws in a number of Republican-led states have made it increasingly difficult for women to obtain abortions.

Abortion rights advocates fear that the current Supreme Court, including three conservative justices named by former president Donald Trump, will further restrict or even eliminate that right.

Phyllis Nagy, director of "Call Jane," said she was "struck by the need to tell a story about women that gave women agency, that could do it with humor, with a light touch, and with some urgency."

"I think there are a number of films, because it is an important topic... These things are extremely necessary in order for our cherished right to choose not to disappear entirely," she said.

- 'We thought we won' -

The "Jane" collective emerged in the late 1960s, with roots in the civil rights and anti-war movements, and operated until abortion was legalized in 1973.

Volunteers -- mainly women -- set up telephone hotlines, offered up their apartments as makeshift clinics, drove their family cars to collect pregnant women before their procedures, and helped find money for those who could not afford to pay for illegal operations.

Some of the "Janes" even learned to carry out the procedure themselves.

"These are women without whom I wouldn't have had the freedoms that I have enjoyed for my entire life," said "Call Jane" star Elizabeth Banks.

More than a dozen members of the group are interviewed in documentary "The Janes" -- which premieres Monday, and will show on HBO and HBO Max later this year.

These include Heather Booth, who started the collective by finding a doctor for a friend's sister who was suffering suicidal thoughts after becoming pregnant.

"Even talking about performing an abortion was a conspiracy to commit a felony," recalls Booth.

By the time Roe v. Wade made their work redundant, several of the group had been arrested and charged.

"We were thrilled, and we thought it was over. Who knew what would follow? But we thought we won," said another member, named only as "Jeanne."

- 'Duty' -

"Happening," from French former journalist Audrey Diwan, shot to prominence at last year's Venice festival, where it won the top Golden Lion prize. 

Based on Annie Ernaux's autobiographical novel, it captures not only the danger of arrest or even death for those risking illegal abortions, but also the rejection, loneliness and shame suffered by young pregnant girls at the time.

"My expectation is not only to show the movie to people who do agree with me, but to people that don't, and to see 'how do you react?'" Diwan told AFP.

"It is one thing to say 'I'm against abortion' -- but do you agree that a human would have to go through that whole journey?"

The film is playing at Sundance before its US release this spring by IFC Films. 

"In the 60s in France, the law was really hard. Even trying to help someone get an abortion, you could end up in jail," said Diwan.

"And I mention it because I know unfortunately it's also the case nowadays in other countries."

Anamaria Vartolomei, the movie's star, said she "felt a certain duty I had because I'm a 22-year-old girl with rights, with freedom."

"It's meant to open discussion, so I hope it will... I'm glad to see where the discussion will be brought on this topic in the United States."

Sundance runs until January 30.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.