At the beginning of 2021, Evan Rachel Wood named ex-partner Marilyn Manson—real name Brian Warner—as her alleged abuser. Wood has spent years advocating as an abuse and rape survivor, testifying in front of both Congress and California lawmakers about her experiences.
Now, Wood and Oscar-winning filmmaker Amy Berg are coming out with a two-part documentary titled Phoenix Rising which details the Westwood actress’s experiences with the singer.
Other women with allegations against Manson also have a voice in the film, which is currently headed to Sundance.
Wood claims she was “essentially raped on-camera” by Manson, who she says “horrifically abused” her during their on-again, off-again relationship between 2007 (when she was 19, and he was 38) and 2011. In the 2007 music video for “Heart-Shaped Glasses,” the teenager was dressed in a pair of heart-shaped sunglasses identical to the ones worn by Lolita in Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 movie based on the Vladimir Nabokov novel of the same name. In the video, Wood has sex with Manson beneath a shower of fake blood.
“It’s nothing like I thought it was going to be,” says Wood in the documentary. “We’re doing things that were not what was pitched to me. 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 … It was complete chaos. 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 that I had done something shameful and I could tell that the crew was uncomfortable and nobody knew what to do.”
“I was coerced into a commercial sex act under false pretenses…That’s when the first crime was committed against me. I was essentially raped on-camera.”
Berg spoke with Variety about why she agreed to direct the documentary when Wood asked her back in 2019.
“It wasn’t about Marilyn Manson, and his whole world. This was about an Erin Brockovich story. We were really focused on telling a story about empowerment, something that would offer resources for women and men who are stuck in abusive situations. And that was what we were making — until she decided to name him publicly.”
The documentary was already well underway when Wood came out publicly with her allegations against Marilyn Manson. According to Berg’s interview with Variety, this greatly expanded the project’s scope, which is what led to the film becoming a two-part documentary in the editing bay.
“I don’t remember what it feels like to not be scared. I will never be the same,” Wood says in the film.
Recording for the documentary began in 2020, before the actress publicly accused the singer. “I’m still terrified to name Brian publicly. I want to name him, it’s all I want to do. I have received a number of threatening messages saying to shut my mouth, people know where I live. Brian also made it clear that if I ever said anything, he would come after me. He once told me he would fuck up my whole family from the bottom up and he would start with my dad. I have a child and it’s really scary.”
In a statement to The Post, Warner attorney Howard King called Wood’s story “false,” arguing that the between the several-day shoot and all the time the video spent in pre- and post-production, there would be plenty of witnesses to dispute the allegations.
“Of all the false claims that Evan Rachel Wood has made about Brian Warner, her imaginative retelling of the making of the ‘Heart-Shaped Glasses’ music video 15 years ago is the most brazen and easiest to disprove, because there were multiple witnesses.”
“Evan was not only fully coherent and engaged during the three-day shoot but also heavily involved in weeks of pre-production planning and days of post-production editing of the final cut. The simulated sex scene took several hours to shoot with multiple takes using different angles and several long breaks in between camera setups. Brian did not have sex with Evan on that set, and she knows that is the truth.”
Phoenix Rising’s second screening is held today, January 25, at 10:00 am EST and will be available until January 26 at 10:00 am EST. The two-part documentary will be available on HBO at a later date.