Evan Rachel Wood: 'I Was Essentially Raped on Camera'
by Hedy Phillips
24 January 2022
In Evan Rachel Wood’s documentary, Phoenix Rising – Part I: Don't Fall, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 23, she opens up even more about her past relationship with Marilyn Manson, shedding new light on the abuse she says she endured.
Though Wood and Mason (whose real name is Brian Warner) started dating in 2006 and were together on and off for a few years, it wasn’t until February 2021 that she spoke out about what actually went down in her relationship. In her Instagram post, she wrote, “He started grooming me when I was a teenager and horrifically abused me for years. I was brainwashed and manipulated into submission.” Now in her documentary, she’s sharing what the horrific abuse was actually like for her and how it’s stayed with her years later.
She says in the documentary that starring in Manson’s music video for “Heart-Shaped Glasses” when she was 19 was really when problems escalated. According to USA Today, the video was supposed to mimic sex, but Wood says Manson actually penetrated her on camera. “I was coerced into a commercial sex act under false pretenses," she says in the documentary. "That’s when the first crime was committed against me, and I was essentially raped on camera."
But filming the traumatizing video was only part of the pain for Wood. She says in the documentary, according to Entertainment Weekly, that she was also coached on how to discuss the video with the press and told to say it was romantic. And though she says she felt hurt and not at all like it was romantic, she ”was scared to do anything that would upset Brian in any way."
Even before publicly pinpointing Manson for abusing her, Wood was outspoken on the topic. The actress testified in front of Congress in 2018 for the Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill of Rights, sharing her experience with sexual assault. She said at the time, per USA Today, that the assault and violence she experienced are like “a mental scar that I feel every day.” She has also continued the work on behalf of domestic violence victims since then, hoping to exact change in how these crimes are handled.
Other victims have come forward since as well, sharing similar stories of their experiences with the musician. Former assistant Ashley Walters, ex Ashley Morgan Smithline and actress Esmé Bianco have all shared their stories in recent months, detailing alleged abuse over the course of several years.
For his part, Manson didn’t respond to filmmakers’ request for comment on specific allegations, but the documentary includes a statement from his lawyer that says he “vehemently denies any and all claims of sexual assault or abuse of anyone,” adding, “These lurid claims against my client have three things in common — they are all false, alleged to have taken place more than a decade ago and part of a coordinated attack by former partners and associates of Mr. Warner who have weaponized the otherwise mundane details of his personal life and their consensual relationships into fabricated horror stories."
The documentary’s director, Amy Berg, though, is fed up with the way too many people are taking this whole horror show too lightly. In the Q&A at Sundance after the screening, she shared with the audience, “The industry needs to take inventory of themselves now because we ran into a lot of stumbling blocks even in just trying to clear music in this film, because people are still protecting (Manson), and they don't want to participate in anything that might upset him.”
Wood chimed in to say, “The way the press handled this story for many, many years is shameful. And it's time we finally tell the whole story." Phoenix Rising – Part I: Don't Fall will premiere on HBO later this year.
If you are a survivor of sexual assault and need help, RAINN offers support through the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org.
Photo via Getty/ Yui Mok - PA Images/ PA Image