In part one of Phoenix Rising, HBO’s upcoming two-part documentary about Marilyn Manson accuser and activist Evan Rachel Wood, which premiered at the virtual 2022 Sundance Film Festival January 23, Wood claims that Manson, whose legal name is Brian Hugh Warner, “essentially raped” her on-camera without her consent. The alleged incident took place on the set of Manson’s 2007 music video for “Heart-Shaped Glasses,” when Wood was 19. Manson denied the allegations to E! News via his lawyer, who said in a statement that Manson “did not have sex with Evan on that set.”
The video features Wood wearing Lolita sunglasses and having sex with Manson. “We had discussed a simulated sex scene, but once the cameras were rolling, he started penetrating me for real. I had never agreed to that,” Wood recalls in the documentary. “I did not feel safe. No one was looking after me. It was a really traumatizing experience, filming the video. I didn’t know how to advocate for myself or know how to say no because I had been conditioned and trained to never talk back, to just soldier through. I felt disgusting and like I had done something shameful, and I could tell that the crew was very uncomfortable and nobody knew what to do.”
Wood’s mother recounts how the day after the shoot, her ex-husband heard from a crew member that on set, Wood “was out of it, that he [Manson] was giving her absinthe and whatever else,” and he was allegedly making her do things that weren’t in the script to which “she cannot consent.” Wood puts it in no uncertain terms: “I was coerced into a commercial sex act under false pretenses. That’s when the first crime was committed against me, and I was essentially raped on-camera.” Manson’s lawyer stated that Wood was “fully coherent” during the shoot and “heavily involved” in pre-production, planning, and editing for the video. He described Wood’s claims as an “imaginative retelling” that could be disproved by multiple witnesses.
In the documentary, Wood also recounts how Manson used fear to keep her silent about the incident, saying, “Brian was really clear about how I should discuss the video with the press, how I was supposed to tell people that we had this great romantic time, and none of that was the truth. But I was scared to do anything that would upset Brian in any way.” She calls this incident “just the beginning of the violence that would escalate over the course of the relationship.” Directed by Amy Berg, Phoenix Rising follows Evan Rachel Wood “as she takes her experience as a survivor of domestic violence to pursue justice, heal generational wounds, and reclaim her story.” The documentary comes in the wake of her alleged abusive ex, Marilyn Manson, facing multiple sexual-assault lawsuits featuring testimony of Wood and others. Phoenix Rising will air in two parts, “Don’t Fall” and “Stand Up,” on HBO this March 15 and 16.
This story has been updated throughout.