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Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse Was An Eff-You to Harvey Weinstein on Behalf of Rose McGowan

Rose McGowan & Robert Rodriguez at screening for "Death Proof" at the 60th Annual International Film Festival de Cannes. May 22, 2007 Cannes, France. 2007 Paul Smith / Featureflash

After her alleged rape in 1997 by Harvey Weinstein, Rose McGowan was advised by a (female!) lawyer that since she’d done nudity in films that no jury would take her seriously if she came forward. She ended up signing an NDA in exchange for Weinstein giving money to a women’s shelter. Thankfully, she continued sharing her story privately over the past 20 years. One of those who heard it was Robert Rodriguez.

In an exclusive column for Variety, Rodriguez has come forward to tell what he’s always known about McGowan and Weinstein, following McGowan’s lead now that she’s come forward. In fact, not only did McGowan tell Rodriguez what happened back in 2005, but her being cast as Cherry Darling in Rodriguez’s film Planet Terror (one half of his collaboration with Quentin Tarantino, Grindhouse) was meant to literally “make him pay” for what he did to her.

On the night he met McGowan at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005, she told him that she wished she could’ve been in Sin City. When Rodriguez told her that she should’ve auditioned and would’ve been great, McGowan told him that she’d been blacklisted from all Harvey Weinstein projects. Then he asked her why, and she told him. He goes on to write:

“Incensed at what I heard, I told Rose that she was not blacklisted from MY movies and that Harvey couldn’t tell me who to cast. The reason was that Harvey didn’t work on my movies, I made movies all those years for Dimension and Bob Weinstein. So I explained that if I cast her in my next film, Harvey couldn’t suddenly tell me no, because my first question would be “Oh, really? Why can’t I cast her?” And I was sure he would not want to tell me why.

“I then revealed to Rose right then and there that I was about to start writing a movie with Quentin Tarantino, a double feature throwback to 70’s exploitation movies, and that if she was interested, I would write her a BAD ASS character and make her one of the leads. I wanted her to have a starring role in a big movie to take her OFF the blacklist, and the best part is that we would have Harvey’s new Weinstein Company pay for the whole damn thing.”

By far the best moment of his account of that evening was what came next, when Weinstein himself entered the party where Rodriguez and McGowan were talking. Rodriguez says:

“Just as I finished telling Rose this, I saw Harvey walking around the party! I called Harvey over to our table, and as soon as he got close enough to see that I was sitting with Rose, his face dropped and went ghostly white. I said, “Hey Harvey, this is Rose McGowan. I think she’s amazing and really talented and I’m going to cast her in my next movie.” Harvey then dribbled all over himself in the most over the top performance I’d ever seen as he gushed, “Oh she’s wonderful, oh she’s amazing, oh she’s fantastic, oh she’s so talented… You two should definitely work together.” And then he skittered off. I knew right then that every word Rose told me was true, you could see it all over his face.

“I looked over at Rose. Her mouth was open, and her eyes were wide. “WOW. I’ve never seen that before,” she said. I then told her that if she wanted a role that I would write it for her and Harvey’s company would have to fund it. Rose agreed, and the deal was done. I found it so commendable that she was putting the incident behind her and moving forward with her career. I wanted to help. We had a plan, and more importantly, we had a mission.”

Check out Rodriguez’s full account over at Variety. He goes on to explain how he got away with casting her, and claims that even though he was able to cast her, The Weinstein Company “buried” the film. Now, whether the film didn’t do big box office because it was “buried,” or because people (other than film nerds) weren’t into a double feature of movies that looked like bad movies from the 70s isn’t the point.

The point is that this actress who’d been wronged was blacklisted, and this guy who believed her story gave her the opportunity to reignite her career while also sticking it to her attacker.

What’s frustrating are some of the comments on the Variety piece (I should know better than to read the comments, but I can’t help myself). Too many of them bring up Rodriguez and McGowan’s past romantic relationship, which began with them having an affair on the set of Planet Terror behind the back of his then-wife of 16 years, producer Elizabeth Avellan. Yes, this happened. No, it was not right. In fact, it was downright shitty.

This doesn’t change the fact that Weinstein allegedly raped her, nor does it change the fact that this was one instance in which a man listened to a woman, believed her, and helped her get some kind of recourse. Just as it’s asinine to believe that because a woman has done nude scenes that she shouldn’t be believed, it’s asinine to say that, because she had an affair with a married man that she’s lying about being raped, or worse, that her being raped was somehow her fault.

Believe it or not, women get raped no matter what their moral or ethical choices. That’s the point. It happens far too often to far too many often with no reason at all. In this instance, I’m glad that McGowan had someone on her side to help her move past it.

(via Variety, image: Shutterstock )

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