Actress Rose McGowan defended fellow actress Renée Zellweger and blasted Variety‘s new chief film critic Owen Gleiberman — who wrote an article late last month taking a critical look at Hollywood’s obsession with plastic surgery — in an essay for the Hollywood Reporter this week.
Gleiberman’s June 30 piece — titled “Renee Zellweger: If She No Longer Looks Like Herself Has She Become a Different Actress?” — trashes the “vanity-fueled image culture” that promotes plastic surgery as a “ritual,” which he says drastically altered the way Zellweger’s character in Bridget Jones’s Baby looks from what she looked like in the original film, 2001’s Bridget Jones’s Diary.
In a lengthy essay, Scream star McGowan accused Gleiberman of using Zellweger as a “punching bag” in his “mistaken attempt to make a mark at [his] new job.”
“How dare you bully a woman who has done nothing but try to entertain people like you. Her crime, according to you, is growing older in a way you don’t approve of,” McGowan wrote.
After taking a six-year hiatus from the spotlight, Zellweger attended the 2014 Elle Women in Hollywood Awards. It was there that she first sparked rumors that she had undergone plastic surgery, with many noting that the Cinderella Man star looked unrecognizable at the star-studded event.
“I’m glad folks think I look different! I’m living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I’m thrilled that perhaps it shows,” Zellweger said at the time. “It seems the folks who come digging around for some nefarious truth which doesn’t exist won’t get off my porch until I answer the door.”
McGowan continued her essay with a relentless attack on Glieberman:
“What you are doing is vile, damaging, stupid and cruel. It also reeks of status quo white-male privilege,” she wrote. “So assured are you in your place in the firmament that is Hollywood, you felt it was OK to do this. And your editors at Variety felt this was more than OK to run.”
McGowan went on to outline the sexism she says she’s faced during her decades-long career in Hollywood.
“You are an active endorser of what is tantamount to harassment and abuse of actresses and women,” the Charmed star wrote. “I speak as someone who was abused by Hollywood and by people like you in the media, but I’m a different breed, one they didn’t count on. I refuse and reject this bullshit on behalf of those who feel they can’t speak. I am someone who was forced by a studio to go on Howard Stern where he asked me to show him my labia while my grinning male and female publicists stood to the side and did nothing to protect me.
“I am someone who has withstood death threats from fanboys, had fat sites devoted to me. I’ve withstood harassment on a level you can’t comprehend, Owen,” she added.
“Here’s some truth,” McGowan continued. “Men like you and the women who sit idly by and say nothing should know that aiding and abetting is a moral crime, and if it were punished in Hollywood, most of you would be in some form of jail.”
McGowan asked Glieberman to imagine what his article would look like if he replaced Zellweger’s name with those of male A-list actors like Tom Cruise, Matt Damon, Leonardo DeCaprio, Rob Lowe, Brad Pitt, and George Clooney.
She concluded her fiery letter by asserting that Gleiberman, as a writer, doesn’t compare to the likes of Raymond Chandler, Robert Towne, Dorothy Parker, Joan Didion, Billy Wilder and Pauline Kael.
“These were writers on Hollywood,” she said, adding, “You, Owen Gleiberman, are not they.”
“You are simply a bully on semi-glossy paper.”
Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter: @jeromeehudson