Interview with Rose McGowan

From The Quentin Tarantino Archives

Part of our ongoing Grind House coverage, check out:

A Conversation with Rose McGowan

By Sebastian Haselbeck, March 26, Four Seasons Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA.

This transcript has been edited for clarity and space constraints. Pieces might have been omitted from the actual conversation, and the sentences altered for readability. (Sebastian): So How was your day so far?

Rose McGowan: Faaaantastic. And yours?

Sebastian: Fantastic

Rose: Fantastic (laugh)

Sebastian: (laugh) Not a single break

Rose: Yea, me neither.

Sebastian: How did you get into Grindhouse? I mean you knew Robert. Did you know Quentin before?

Rose: Um, I’d met Quentin just at you know parties here and there before. And it was really funny, the first thing he ever did was come up to me and say “I have Doom Generation on laser disk.” And I’m like "Of course you do". I was like, "I don’t even have it on DVD and you have laser disk". But he’s got every kind of print of everything known to man, which is so cool. You know, He’s.. I’d call it his brilliant obsession.

Sebastian: Yea Kurt Russel calls him "the professor of Directology"

Rose: Dirtology?

Seb: Directology


Rose: Oh, yea I’d say Dirtology too if it was a dirtier movie. I’m mean not dirty but not a grindhousy kind of thing you know just a really obscure… there was an interviewer yesterday that said "You know, I was in a grindhouse movie in the 70’s, it was called Cop Killer, I had a small role" and I said, "You have to tell Quentin because for sure he’ll know that movie." And I saw the guy later and I said, "Did he know?" and he was all "Oh yea, he even knew my part." And I said, "Of course he did, he’s brilliant." It’s kind of a savant thing

Seb: (laughs) Oh yea, So you did most of your stunts yourself?

Rose: I did a lot of them. Yea, I did the big bulk of them. I didn’t want to be dragged to the ground through triggers so I didn’t want to that. There’s a couple other things you know that... I have a great stunt girl though, I’ve worked with her for about six years on Charmed too, which is funny because Quentin loves that show. There’s this thing called the book of shadows which is something we’d all consult and it had these beautiful illustrations and it would have pieces on the demons and things like that and how we’d have to deal with them. And Quentin would call with all these questions and he’d be very anxious with me because I just wouldn’t remember, there’d be so many questions, I dunno.

Seb: How many seasons is it?

Rose: I was on for five, It was on for eight. I mean, that's a lot of shows. You know, that's a lot, a lot of shows. That's a 80-100 hour work week. I was like, "I don’t know." I only retained what I have to retain that day and I never think about it.. it never occurs to me again. So Finally I sent him his own book of shadows. Which nobody's had, nobody has ever had another one. So um, he called me and goes “Hey, how does this character work with that character and how do we understand and da-da-da and call me back as soon as you can." And I’m filming and I was like "uh" and he calls me back and he’s like, "oh, never mind… I have my own book of shadows! And you don’t need to call me." It was very funny, very cute.

Seb: So now, you could probably tell a faker from a real limping person

Rose: Probably so, but I don’t know how many fakers there are going to be out there. Unless they are trying to do like an insurance scam.

Seb: (laugh) You could try that now

Rose: Oh… in my next life. My next career

Seb: What’s lined up for you now?

Rose: I’m attached to a movie called Black Oasis, next. And um, that’s ironically um… I know Quentin knows all about her. It’s this woman, this actress called Susan Cabot. And she was in movies like “Wasp Woman” and these crazy Roger Corman films. And she had a pretty insane, ultimately extremely tragic life but the guy that wrote it and is directing it, Steven Eliot, wrote and directed a "Priscilla: Queen of the desert" film. And this woman Hillary Shore is a great producer. The production company is great. They just did "Children of Men’

Seb: Oh, did you like that?

Rose: Yea, amazing. Don’t you think?

Seb: Yes!

Rose: The cinematography is stunning I thought. I thought it was really haunting.

Seb: That one scene where the baby is crying everybody and just stopped shooting.

Rose: I know, I started crying of course. I cry very easily… in movies

Seb: Just like Stuntman Mike (laugh)

Rose: Just like Stuntman Mike, wuss. What a P.U.S.S.Y. (spells out). God, for real. I hate that word but it was very funny, I laughed so hard when that happened because Stuntman Mike starts wussing out. Because my boyfriend’s sick and I’m sick, we have the same sickness, and yet he’s going to die and has to go to the hospital and his is 40 times worse. And this is very typical of a man. And it’s so funny how Quentin did that, because most men tell them “Stop your…you’re just as sick as I am." - "No, I’m sicker." And Quentin obviously knows women enough to know that that’s a main irritation in their lives whenever their husband or boyfriend is 40 times sicker of course and they’re going to die. And you’re just sitting here thinking, "Yea, sure you are pal. Of course, it’s so much worse for you." I love how he picked up on that, which is a really random thing most guys would never, one most guys wont cop to… and to write it in, I thought that was brilliant. Next question (laugh)

Seb: (laugh) You know, you played Pam, too. How did that happen?

Rose: Well, I auditioned for it. You know, and Quentin read a lot of people. And I think New York and LA. He met with a lot of people for all of the girl rolls I think. And it was not forgone conclusion. Someone said “Oh”, so when Quentin was visiting on Roberts set, did you go up to him and say “hey you should put me in death proof” and I was like god, never. I would never do such a thing. In fact I made a point to never talk to him about it. It would be horribly embarrassing. And so I auditioned for it. I actually auditioned twice. And I flew up twice during the filming of Planet Terror. And so when I learned I got it, I was thrilled! Because, you know, his dialogue is so specific and unique and it’s… I speak fast and I have kind of a different cadence then most and I think it’s kind of because I grew up speaking Italian. I’m trying to speak more clearly on this so I don’t roll into the next word. And Quentin is such a specific cadence and I know I could match his and I’ve always just wanted to say his words. This is such a great… this is a really great year. Just like kind of own built in I am big pentameter. Quentin pentameter. Quentin Pentameter, that’s his new name. So I think so much of it was that and so I told him that, you know it has been… you know things I want to achieve in my career and one of them was definitely getting to say his dialogue.

Seb: There was one rumor that, I don’t know if Quentin ever mentioned it but there was a rumor that planet terror would be a movie that the people from death proof would be doing so Pam would be the actress playing Cherry. Was that every mentioned?

Rose: No, I think that was just a rumor not that wasn’t

Seb: 'Cause Quentin does this movie movie universe, and so on...

Rose: I never thought at one time that that was never really a followed through intended thing that I even heard about and… So, no if that was a rumor… that was not Robert’s plan. I think they had very distinctly different plans of action on their movies.

Seb: So your character pursues the wrong dream and in the end it’s just the right thing she does and saves the world.

Rose: You know, and that’s how it goes.

Seb: Is that what you do in real life?

Rose: Kind of, on accident. (laugh) I’ll let you know when I save the world. I’m getting there, one day at a time. One day at a time sweet Jesus. I think, yea I mean it’s like so many of us. And at different points in my life and I’m like, “oh my god, I am stuck in such a dead end job. This sucks. And I’m in this little town and I’m going no where, this is super depressing.” And then I think for her the night just goes from bad to bad to worse to worse and then obviously after Quentin is so evil to her she kind of comes into her strength. Maybe that’s that extra push she needed. I think Quentin is amazing in that scene. He’s really, really good.

Seb: Yea, I like him, it’s almost the same role he played in From Dusk Till Dawn, like the rapist.

Rose: Yeah, almost but

Seb: Better?

Rose: But better, yea better but I think he was more controlled in this. I think he wasn’t… smiling and anything like that. He was just really dead serious which is why it was fantastic.

Seb: And no braces!

Rose: Yea (laughs). That was one of the funniest additions.

Seb: So you’ve seen the movie already?

Rose: I have. I saw it two nights ago. I loved it and I can’t wait to go back because I hid my face so many times during filming. Robert was sitting next to me, poor guy, and I told him I said, “I might hit you.” I didn’t mean to but I went WACK. I’m like, I have a hard time with horror films. And scary things that jumps and make odd noises. I told him “I am your perfect audience. I am exactly who you want in your audience that will scream, even if it’s me on screen with somebody trying to attack her, I’ll still scream.” It makes no sense. So yes, I think I bruised him, but I can’t wait to… and one time he was like “oh wait, look at that” and I looked and it was right when this head was exploding and I was like, “you Bastard. Trickster.” It’ll be great because I’ll get to see it obviously again at the premiere and I’ll see so much more that I missed the first time because I kept covering my eyes. And somebody said the perfect thing. It’s just the movie where you he’d never laughed and dry heaved at the same time. I think it’s the perfect description.

Seb: Are you looking forward to those Premieres, or it that just like this, just something you have to get through?

Rose: No, I get very nervous. Um… again with loud sounds I get… it’s funny I’m not nervous at all about people seeing… somebody’s like, “are you worried about how the movie is going to be received?” no, that didn’t even occur to me. What occurs to me, terrorizing, is the press line. People are always like “oh no, you always look totally calm and you’re smiling.” Yea but it’s on the inside I’m trying not to puke. It’s because they scream at you and there’s loud flashes. Crazy flashes and they are so loud and they just scream and scream and I hate loud noises. My ex co-star walked down one with me once and she was touching my back and she was like, “stop shaking” about all of the photos. I am just kind of smiling and look cool as a cucumber but my back was just vibrating.

Seb: In the photo’s you can’t see that

Rose: Yea! Outside terror. Total terror. That’s my horror movie. So that’s every time someone mentions a premiere I’m all (gasp). My heart starts racing and I start getting really anxious about it. It’s quite stupid. I’m like I’ve done it enough times, it makes no sense.

Seb: Yea that’s what people think. “She’s just a movie star, why would she be nervous?”

Rose: It’s also, I can cry in front of 250 people on a crew and have no issue but auditions, my face still turns red sometimes and my skins gets blotchy and my hands start shaking and I’m like “this is absurd. How long have I done this?” It makes zero sense. Because I’m yelling at myself [asking] why am I scared, I tend to get more freaked out. It’s like the dumbest combo.

Seb: So do you have any bigger movies lined up now? Or is it back to TV?

Rose: No, no I have a big movie lined up also after the Black Oasis one but I can’t talk about it just yet.

Seb: Oooh, a secret. Because you know, bigger movies, bigger premieres. (laughs)

Rose: Oooh, more shaking, more nausea. But I smile through it all

Seb: I had such a good time watching that movie.

Rose: It was so much fun, it really was so much fun. And I had so much fun, we were all suppose to watch it you know in this balcony, because VIP balcony so you’re looking down on the screen. And I was like, I don’t want to watch it up here. So I snuck down. And it was a mix of regular people and critics. And I wind up looking over and I was sitting next to this 65 year-old man with white hair and I was like “oh god, that’s going to be not good.” The guy was laughing so hard, he would miss things because his hands were, he wasn’t like hiding he was just laughing so hard and his face kept going into his hands. And he’d look up again and start laughing again and he laughed non stop from beginning to end. It’s interesting because we’re so programmed after a movie’s done, Robert’s movie’s done, to get up and want to leave you know, so it was interesting to see when the intermission things came up obviously some people got up to go to the bathroom

Seb: Yes, people thought it was an intermission. Yea they went to get popcorn. I was like… more is coming

Rose: Right but, but then they did. And obviously they are like, oh yea. And then you get right back in the swing, Even I was like, ok. That’s what happens. It ends, you get up. How many times have you done that in the theatre? But that’s what’s fantastic and then of course the trailers come along and they just suck you right back in.

Seb: And those are amazing

Rose: It’s great! It’s kind of like an after dinner mint. And then you go on and have another meal.

Seb: Yea it was crazy because you realize it’s not a real popcorn ad.

Rose: No it’s great, I mean they are all real ones. They are what use to be and I think that’s hilarious and you see these things and you’re like gross, that disgusting slimy hot dog and all these things and you’re like that’s what they used run. That’s hilarious to me.

Seb: So, this grind house experience, do you like those movies? Those slasher movies?

Rose: I don’t like slasher movies. I did have fun watching them at Quentin’s house. A lot of fun because obviously they were the things I hadn’t seen before and there were some great things that I appreciated about them but I think so much of it is when people mistakenly asked were Quentin and Robert trying to make bad movies? And I’m like no, I don’t think they could. No, stupid. But their homage is to the film makers that were totally you know, trained and outside the studio system that couldn’t get regular movies made. And they were doing all there really bizarre things because they are outside and they were like “Hey, I can do anything I want. The crazier, the better” so when they did it, the fascinating thing to me is that they are pretty much doing the exact same thing but from within the system. And they both achieve…

Seb: ..and with money

Rose: Yea money, Hello. And they achieved such a success that they can, they are pretty much untouchable. They can do whatever the hell they want. Whatever they want, and so I know they had a dinner last night with all these old grindhouse directors and I think those older directors were so thrilled. It’s like someone finally did it. They broke through!

Seb: Appreciation at last

Rose: Exactly. And I think it will be cool. I think a lot of people will go back and start looking at those films

Seb: I think so too. I mean like Quentin said today

Rose: I mean you look at these things and you’re like, these people aren’t sane. They’re crazy.

Seb: Like Quentin said, you go to a movie store now and there are all these DVD’s coming out and now you can finally really see those

Rose: I thought there were going to be a lot more release because of this.....Well it was lovely to meet you and talk to you.

Seb: Thank you.

Special Thanks to Christine Watson.

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