In the new documentary directed by Amy Berg Phoenix is rising, Evan Rachel Wood holding Marilyn Manson responsible for the abuse she said she suffered during their relationship, starting when she was 18 years old. But the actress and activist makes it clear that she’s not entirely thrilled about it.
“This is not for revenge, or” He is a monster and he needs to be punished and destroyed,” she said in the documentary. “He has already been destroyed. That man is not a man anymore; he disappeared.”
Part One of the documentary premiered Sunday at the Sundance Film Festival. The second season will premiere on HBO later this year, but the first season covers a lot of ground: Evan Rachel Wood’s upbringing, her rise as an actress, and subsequent industry acceptance. treated like a “troubled teen” adult character, and her alleged grooming and abuse at the hands of the then 37-year-old rock star – who she said sexually persecuted. emotionally and sexually, threatening her life, and at the same time begin to draw swastikas and decorate their home with Nazi propaganda throughout their relationship despite knowing she is Jewish . Wood also alleges that Manson “actually raped” her during a music video shoot for “Heart-Shaped Glasses”.
Manson, who is facing multiple civil lawsuits for sexual assault and is under investigation by authorities, refused abuse claims against him and says that “his intimate relationships have always been entirely consensual with like-minded partners.”
More important than any detail of Wood’s abuse, however, is that the film investigates what happens next — the moment Wood feels safe enough to talk about what happened to her and then That began to support extending California’s statute of limitations for domestic abuse cases where survivors can charge their abusers to more than three years.
Berg’s documentary unfolds through interviews with Wood, her family, and fellow activists — all alive with archival footage and Alice in Wonderland-As the illustration. Wood read the diary she kept for many years, starting at the age of 15. She recalls growing up feeling alone and invisible. “I didn’t know where to go,” she said, “so I was the perfect candidate for someone to pop up and say, “Come with me.”
Wood said she and Manson, born Brian Warner, met in 2006 at a party in Chateau Marmont, where she initially mistook him for a vegan Manson. She recalls that he recognized her from her work in Thirteen-then the basis for the Lolita image of the actress in Hollywood. (“The industrial machine … saw this mature image and ran after it,” Wood said. “But I am still too young.”)
Warner is said to have told Wood that he wanted to work with her on a movie adaptation of Phantasmagoria and asked for her contact information, then they started meeting — ostensibly to work on the project. Wood says it was at that point that grooming began. Warner began isolating her from her friends and family, she said; he created a rift between her and her boyfriend; inciting Wood’s mother by denying her conduct as Wood’s manager; and would eventually threaten, in Wood’s words, “starting at the bottom with my whole family” starting with her father.
A striking feature of Berg’s work: Wood’s mother and brother both provide interviews to back up her story, its empathetic testimony powerful. “He researched this,” says Wood’s mother, Sara Lynn Moore. “He studied how to manipulate people. He’s a predator — he’s a predator. ”
Wood recounts that her first kiss with Warner happened when she was about to leave town. The two were drinking absinthe and he told her he would miss her. She couldn’t even finish her answer before he “sticks his tongue down my throat… Everything turns white and I just don’t know how to respond.” After that the two had no intercourse, she said, but “things definitely escalated on the roof. It ended with him being on top of me and then it ended and I felt really weird and really bad. I wasn’t even really attracted to him.” She said this is the first time she’s kissed a grown man in her personal life.
Wood recalls that Warner’s declarations of love quickly became astounding – statements like “kind of like a muse, kiddo” and “you’re so important to me, I want to dump you.” . (Definitions for terms like “grooming” and “love bombing” pop up on screen in moments like these.)
During their relationship, Warner also began to express a great interest in Nazism and mass psychology, Wood said — despite the fact she was Jewish. She recalls his assertion that Adolf Hitler was “the first rock star because Hitler was stylish, well-spoken and knew how to manipulate the masses”. She says he is obsessed with Nazi paraphernalia and images, and mocks her when it upsets her. At one point, she recalls, the words “Kill all the Jews” hung on their beds. “At what point are you commenting,” she wondered aloud, “and at what point are you just a Nazi?”
“At what point are you commenting, and at what point are you just a Nazi?”
Wood also details how shaping and branding became part of their relationship as they carved their initials, in her case the “M” next to the vagina to “show him that I belong to him”.
Probably the most painful moment in Phoenix is rising took place while Wood and her mother watched Warner’s “Heart-Shaped Glasses” music video. “I didn’t want her to do that,” Moore said. “No one wants her to do that. But I think she felt it was a real romance – it was cool, it was edgy and she really… wanted to do it. ”
Wood recalled that Warner put her in many obvious situations that the two had not discussed before during the filming of the video, which she described as traumatic. The two discussed a simulated sex scene, she said, but as the cameras started rolling “he started to penetrate me for real; I never agreed to it… No one took care of me”. She said this was the first time Warner had committed a crime against her — and that it was “just the beginning of violence that would continue to escalate throughout the relationship.”
Another unfortunate incident allegedly occurred when Wood accompanied Warner on tour; he gets high on Vicodin and grabs her hand, pulling her into a hotel in front of the crew. As she watched Warner destroy their room, Wood said she silently begged a crew member she had worked with before not to leave them alone. “I remember him starting to slowly close the door,” she said. “That’s when I knew I wasn’t safe.”
Many responsibilities like Phoenix is rising understandably cast on Warner, the film also doesn’t shy away from confronting the industry that has made it possible for him. One of the most disturbing aspects of Wood’s revelations about Warner has always been the extent to which the singer seems to have told the public exactly who he is in the first place. Berg includes archival footage of a talk show interview in which he details an unsettling video project called “Groupie” with Andy Dick, Jon Favreau, and Daryl Hannah — all politely joking.
But Berg’s film marks something more hopeful: The day after the 2016 presidential election, Wood decided to talk about his experience. In 2018, she testified on the Declaration of the Rights of Sexual Assault Survivors — at which point she began hearing from other women who knew exactly who her abuser was even though she did not name him. Their story sounds like hers. “It’s like finding out that you’ve been dating a serial killer,” Wood said. In the end, Wood and her fellow activists were able to raise California’s statute of limitations to a maximum of five years — the first time in the state’s history for which the window has been changed.
Wood said of the moment: “It was the first time I felt really heard. “People don’t just hear our story but say, ‘Yes, we hear you, and something needs to change.’