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"Rose McGowan" 2014
Rose wears bomber jacket by Jil Sander Navy; top by COS; denim skirt by Topshop; jewellery Rose’s own. Hair; Maki Tanaka using Bumble and Bumble Make-up Ciara O’Shea using SisleyTheo Sion

Life lessons from Rose McGowan

The inimitable actor in The Doom Generation and Jawbreaker plonks down in the director's chair for her first short, Dawn

TextTrey TaylorStylingSivan CurriePhotographyTheo Sion

Taken from the spring/summer issue of Dazed:

Rose McGowan is on the offensive. “I’m not really someone who does well being muzzled,” she barks, launching into a full-on tirade after stepping into a make-up chair in London’s East End. “A big producer once told me that I always had to play the bad girl because I have dark hair and light skin. I was like, (sarcastically) ‘Oh, that makes sense completely!’ It’s called Hollywood. If the only thing that the public or anybody has ever heard from you is what a man has written for you, you’re only seen in that slim, narrow window of what you’re allowed to be seen as. It just doesn’t suit me.”

Now the larger-than-life actress – whose career has seen her pinball between much-loved cult films like The Doom Generation, Jawbreaker, Planet Terror and Wes Craven’s Scream – is poking the dream factory’s male gaze right in the eye with her directorial debut, the Sundance-premiered short Dawn. A Kennedy-era struggle of peer pressure and teenage discovery, it climaxes with an ending that would surprise M Night Shyamalan. “I know what I did and it stands on its own,” McGowan smiles, defiantly. “I threw down.” 

“My first job was at a funeral parlour. I got fired from every other normal job I ever had after that. I helped move bodies into the freezer and prepared them for viewing for the family. It was a little eerie – a couple of times it looked like, ‘You’re just asleep. You’re about to sit upright.’ 

If there’s someone in the cast who has dark hair they won’t hire another brunette. I knew I wasn’t going to get cast in Scream because they had already cast Neve Campbell, so the producer sent me to her colourist, who made me the trashiest blonde ever. It was mortifying. All the plumbers in the world liked me.

I’m an airplane Ambien (a sleeping pill). When I’m in an airplane, I’m just, ‘Get me the fuck out of here.’ I watched some Renée Zellweger movie once and cried so hysterically I had to go into the bathroom to complete my crying. 

I have seven storage facilities full of old Hollywood memorabilia. The only thing I have in my house now are the RKO letters from the Howard Hughes studio that did Citizen Kane. I have the original massive letters that were on the side of the building, like, big.

I remember being at Sundance as an actress with Jared Leto, and he said, ‘It’s the final night of my television career!’, because the finale of My So-Called Life had just aired. Being there as a director is far more substantial. To be there advertising my own vision is massively different.”