Read: Harvey Weinstein’s sympathy campaign
After abruptly canceling her book tour, McGowan said she sought refuge at a senior-living center in Florida for a while. She started smoking for the first time, after her aunt suggested cigarettes for stress relief. The press coverage of her affected her relationship with family members, who, she said, “had no idea what to make of it, and didn’t know which was the real Rose anymore.”
As McGowan later tried to piece together a new life in London as an artist—working on an album, Planet 9; an associated stage show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; and a movie she hopes to direct as a follow-up to her acclaimed 2014 short, Dawn—news continued to emerge about how insidiously Weinstein’s camp had apparently targeted her. Lisa Bloom’s memo, published in She Said, described McGowan as “a disturbed pathological liar.” Bloom wrote that she felt “equipped to help [Weinstein] against the Roses of the world, because I have represented so many of them … Clearly she must be stopped in her ridiculous, defamatory attacks on you … You are right to be concerned.” Bloom suggested, among other things, that she herself might initiate a friendly relationship with McGowan in order to manipulate her.
The memo served as a harsh reminder of what McGowan was up against. “For so many years this has happened to me,” she said. “It’s just a hijacked life.” By 1997, the year she says Weinstein attacked her, she already had enough of a public profile to make any other kind of profession challenging. “I was sexually assaulted after I was already famous,” she said. “And then I got blacklisted right away. So what do you do then? You’re really in a pickle. You take subpar work; you take scraps. You take what you can get.” In 2001 she managed to score a starring role on television, in the Aaron Spelling–produced supernatural drama Charmed. It was reliable work, but McGowan struggled with how the three female protagonists were portrayed by male directors. She still declines to watch herself on-screen: “There are so many layers of meta going on there that it kind of blows your mind in a way that’s not right. I don’t like seeing myself through male lenses.”
When McGowan first began making public statements against sexism in Hollywood, in 2015, she found a new calling, and a new kind of presence in the media. “Rose McGowan Is Starting a Revolution,” a BuzzFeed headline read that year; the article noted the ways the actor had skewered the entertainment industry on Twitter. But activism wasn’t the same as a livelihood. Meanwhile, the closer she seemed to get to exposing what Weinstein had done to her, the more aggressive his campaigns against her reportedly became. In 2017, McGowan was befriended by a mysterious woman claiming to work in finance, who turned out to be a former Mossad agent employed by Weinstein to infiltrate her personal life. McGowan remembered one of her former lawyers telling her that she’d never heard of an individual “being so messed with that wasn’t being messed with by a government.”