First the stars of Kids revealed that they weren’t nearly as sexually experienced as their characters made them seem, and now our illusions about another hallmark of transgressive teen cinema, Gregg Araki’s Doom Generation, have been shattered.
Last night at Anthology Film Archives, after a screening of the 1995 cult classic (it came out just a few months after Kids), Rose McGowan revealed that she was just 16 when she appeared in the film, but she lied and said she was 18 in order to snag the part of Amy Blue.
Not that she wanted to play the shit-talking, bed-hopping, speed-popping heroine that bad. She said that when Araki asked her “Do you want to be an actress?” her reply was: “No.”
The crowd laughed, presumably thinking about the kerfuffle she got herself into last month after tweeting out a douchey casting call for an Adam Sandler movie. (She said she posted the tweet without thinking anything of it, and had no idea it would cause such a brouhaha).
Rose McGowan at last night's screening of The Doom Generation at Anthology Film Archives, part of the Dirty Looks film festival. They also screened her short film Dawn, which is very good. The house was packed, and the crowd was like a time warp back to the East Village of 20 years ago. Got me a little verklempt. #VSCOcam #thedoomgeneration #rosemcgowan #gregaraki #eastvillage #anthologyfilmarchives #dirtylooksfilmfestival
McGowan said she based the character on herself (the electric-red lipstick Amy wears is the one she wore in real life) — except for the sex part. In reality, McGowan was so innocent that she didn’t realize how dirty her lines were until she rewatched the film to do the DVD commentary. (Last night, she dusted off an impression of one of Amy’s many burns: “Look, you fucking chunky pumpkinhead!”)
Nor did she realize how sexually charged some of her scenes were. At the time, she thought she was just playfully rolling around during the threesome scene with the film’s hunky leads, X and Jordan.
When she rewatched her topless love scenes years later, she said, she realized why her father chased Araki out of a movie theater when the film came out.
The screening was part of Dirty Looks: On Location, which continues through July 31. The festival’s founder and director, Bradford Nordeen, introduced it by saying he pulled Doom Generation off the video-rental shelf at the age of 12 or 13 because it had an 18+ sticker on it (when it came out, the Times said it was so gruesome it made Natural Born Killers look like “a model of restraint”). “This is a film that looks as much to Godard as it does to MTV,” Nordeen said, “and I think it’s that tension between the two forms that really inspired me to present this film here tonight but also just inspired me to go back to it, like, every year.”
During the q&a session, Nordeen and McGowan debated whether the self-described “heterosexual movie” in Araki’s “Teen Apocalypse Trilogy” could be made today. McGowan said she wasn’t sure whether it could be, but she hoped so. Nordeen said definitely not as an American production, with a $1 million+ budget (he noted that the film had French financing).
Doom Generation was McGowan’s acting debut, and its screening last night was followed by her directorial debut, “Dawn,” which shares a similar pop-noir sensibility.
Since it’s just 17 minutes long, we won’t give away much about the plot – just go ahead and watch it below.
McGowan said she originally intended to adapt the Flannery O’Connor story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” but shortly before shooting she was denied permission. She admitted elements of O’Connor are still in the short, but the main inspiration for Dawn, she said, was a line delivered by Charles Starkweather, the young killer who inspired Badlands and, yes, Natural Born Killers. McGowan said she knew what the film’s last line would be and worked backwards from there.
Dawn, McGowan said, marks her transition from acting to filmmaking. She’s currently holed up upstate, working on her first feature, The Pines, which will be filmed in the Woodstock area. She joked that, in light of recent events, she wasn’t sure whether Hollywood would take her back.