Since 1st February 2021, the controversial musician Marilyn Manson has been accused of sexual abuse, intimidation and harassment by several women. The American artist, known for his dark style and extreme inclinations towards violence and Satanism, is also known for having composed his artist’s moniker from the names of actress Marilyn Monroe and criminal guru Charles Manson. In 2018, he was already suspected of having attacked the American actress and singer Evan Rachel Wood. During a hearing, the latter had then discussed the sexual assaults and abuse she had suffered a few years earlier. She had not disclosed the identity of her attacker then, however many fans and the media already suspected him. In February 2021, the actress decided to come forward on social media and publicly expose her attacker. She then became the first woman to publicly accuse Marilyn Manson of sexual abuse.
Her accusations awakened unhappy memories in other women who had been in contact with the man between 2009 and 2011. Several other women have in turn denounced him following Evan Rachel Wood's testimony. Model Ashley Morgan Smithline, British actress Esmé Bianco and Ashley Walters, Marilyn Manson's former assistant, have accused him of kidnapping, harassment, intimidation and death threats. Following these denunciations, an inquiry was opened, but the musician continues to deny everything. His ex-girlfriend, Rose McGowan, known for her starring role in the series Charmed, as well as for being one of the first women in 2016 to accuse the former American producer Harvey Weinstein of rape, spoke out on these various accusations by supporting all women victims of the horrors committed by Marilyn Manson. She is also known for being one of the instigators of the #Metoo movement launched in 2017 by activist Tarana Burke. These actions denounce sexual violence and give voice and visibility to women victims of rape and sexual, physical and psychological abuse.
In 2006, Evan Rachel Wood began a relationship with Marilyn Manson. A year later, aged just 18, she appeared in the video for Heart-Shaped Glasses, one of her boyfriend's famous songs. Her boyfriend, who was 37 at the time, allegedly took advantage of her on the set of the video. While the cameras were rolling, the young woman was forced to perform sexual intercourse. She had indeed agreed to simulate with him in front of the cameras, but had not, according to her, agreed to any actual intercourse. The rocker then penetrated her by surprise in front of the cameras and the film crew. Shocked, Evan Rachel Wood wasn’t able to react and felt compelled to stay with the performer until 2010, all the while keeping silent about the horrific abuse.
During the three years the relationship lasted, Evan Rachel Wood, the actress who played the robot Dolores Abernathy in Jonathan Nolan's Westworld (2016), went through hell. Subjected to sexual and psychological abuse, it took the actress took years to lift the silence that was weighing her down. After her testimony, Evan Rachel Wood met the director Amy Berg who had directed the documentary Deliver us from Evil, released in 2006, about the American paedophile priest Olivier O'Grady, and the film An Open Secret (2015), about the abuse of teenagers in the film industry. Evan Rachel Wood joined forces with the director to tell her story through a documentary revealing how to spot a predator and help women and men who are victims of rape and/or sexual, physical and psychological abuse. Phoenix Rising also discusses her youth, career, family, life as a woman, her feminist struggle, her toxic relationship with the singer and the sexual and psychological abuse she suffered.
The first part of the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on 23rd January and will air on HBO in the coming months.