Marilyn Manson denies raping Evan Rachel Wood on music video set

·4 min read
<span>Photograph: Olivia Fougeirol/AP</span>
Photograph: Olivia Fougeirol/AP

Marilyn Manson has denied raping the actor Evan Rachel Wood on the set of the music video for his 2007 single Heart-Shaped Glasses (When the Heart Guides the Hand).

In Phoenix Rising, a new documentary about Wood’s life and career which premiered at the 2022 Sundance film festival, Wood said that during a previously discussed “simulated sex scene”, Manson, born Brian Warner, “started penetrating me for real” once the cameras were rolling.

“I had never agreed to that,” she said.

She said she was fed absinthe on the set of the video, in which she plays a character styled as Lolita, and was barely conscious to object to Manson’s alleged actions.

Manson’s lawyer Howard King denied Wood’s claims in a statement to the Guardian: “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.”

Wood said that she had “never been on a set that unprofessional in my life up until this day. It was complete chaos and I did not feel safe. No one was looking after me.”

She said she didn’t know how to advocate for herself or say no “because I had been conditioned and trained to never talk back – to just soldier through” and claimed that the crew “was very uncomfortable and nobody knew what to do”.

She said the alleged incident made her feel “disgusting and like I had done something shameful”.

“I was coerced into a commercial sex act under false pretences. That’s when the first crime was committed against me and I was essentially raped on camera.”

She said that Manson, born Brian Warner, gave her “really clear” instructions on how she should describe the video to journalists. “I was supposed to tell people we had this great, romantic time and none of that was the truth,” she says.

“But I was scared to do anything that would upset Brian in any way. The video was just the beginning of the violence that would keep escalating over the course of the relationship.”

Manson, however, teased the media with the notion that there was truth to the video’s apparent “realism”.

Wood previously accused Manson, with whom she was in a relationship from 2007 to 2010, of grooming her when she was a teenager and said he “horrifically abused me for years. I was brainwashed and manipulated into submission.”

Wood met Manson in 2006. She was 18, he was 38.

She is among a number of women, including Game of Thrones actor Esmé Bianco, who have accused Manson of sexual and physical violence involving torture.

Manson has denied the charges made against him, calling them “horrible distortions of reality … my intimate relationships have always been entirely consensual”.

He is facing up to four lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault, battery and harassment as well as an investigation into allegations of domestic violence incidents by the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department, which raided his home in November 2021.

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After Vanity Fair published an article detailing the first of these allegations in February 2021, Manson was dropped by his record label, Loma Vista.

Manson has received support from the rapper Kanye West, who brought him out at a livestream event for his album Donda, on which Manson appears, and at one of his Sunday Service events.

Manson shares in the Grammy nominations for Donda, which is up for album of the year and best rap song for Jail, on which Manson appears. Following controversy over his recognition, Recording Academy president and CEO Harvey Mason Jr said that personal and legal matters would not affect artists’ eligibility.

Phoenix Rising, a film by Oscar-nominated director Amy Berg, will air on HBO in the US in March. It also follows the creation of the Phoenix Act, legislation led by Wood that extends the statute of limitations for survivors of domestic violence to pursue charges against their abusers, which was signed into law in October 2019.

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