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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Rose McGowan has accused director Alexander Payne of sexual misconduct

Illustration for article titled Rose McGowan has accused director Alexander Payne of sexual misconduct
Photo: M. Brown (Getty Images)

After detailing allegations of sexual abuse against Harvey Weinstein during the fall of 2017, Rose McGowan has maintained an active presence in the #MeToo movement, and a vocal advocate for survivors of sexual trauma. In the early morning hours of August 17, McGowan tweeted an allegation of sexual misconduct against another Hollywood figure: Alexander Payne, the filmmaker behind Nebraska and Election.


McGowan has not offered additional details regarding the encounter, which allegedly occurred when she was 15 years of age. At that time, according to McGowan’s memoir, she had just moved to Los Angeles after becoming legally emancipated from her parents. In a follow-up to her initial tweet, the actress said, “I I just want an acknowledgement and an apology. I do not want to destroy. This was me at 15,” accompanied by a black-and-white photo of a young McGowan.

Payne has yet to respond to the allegation.

This is not the first time Payne has been accused of misconduct; in a 2016 essay for XOJane’s anonymous “It Happened To Me” series, writer Holly Hughes detailed allegations of harassment and bullying on the set of the 1999 film Election. Although Payne and his associates were identified by first names only in the original essay, Hughes confirmed on her personal blog that she was indeed referencing the filmmaker and her experiences on the set of Election. Hughes detailed incidents where assistant director George Parra sexually harassed her, as well as alleged bullying and verbal harassment from Payne. When she unwittingly sent a script to a minor actor against the director’s wishes, Hughes said Payne became enraged:

Alexander cursed me out for a good minute or two. He called me every nasty derogatory term and anything else his quick wit thought of. He drowned me under his tidal wave of rage. Calm came over my mind as my body began to shake with fear and fury and inferiority. I kept my voice flat. ‘I’m going to have to stop you there,’ I said. ‘No one talks to me that way.’ ‘Fuck you,’ the director said.

Hughes detailed her experiences with Payne a full year before the Weinstein allegations and the rise of #MeToo, but her essay didn’t gain much traction in the media—and Payne was never held to account. In a post shared to her blog on October 12, 2017—the same day McGowan publicly accused Weinstein of rape—Hughes revealed that both Deadline and local Los Angeles news affiliate KTLA had reached out regarding the allegations against Payne when her essay was published, but neither outlet ran a story. Hughes closed her blog post with this statement: “Here’s to the people brave enough to speak. If you’re scared— know you’re not alone. You matter. It wasn’t your fault.”