Filmmaker Alexander Payne has denied allegations that he ‘groomed’ and sexually assaulted actress Rose McGowan when she was just 15 years old.
Instead, Payne insists that he and McGowan first crossed paths when she was 18 years old and that they went out on a couple of dates after she failed an audition for his first directorial gig.
The acclaimed director broke his silence on Friday – three weeks after McGowan accused him of ‘grooming’ her and having sex with her when she was underage and he was 28 years old.
Payne released a statement to Deadline in which he denies the allegations.
‘Rose is mistaken in saying we met when she was fifteen, in the late 1980s,’ Payne wrote.
‘I was a full-time film student at UCLA from 1984 until 1990, and I know that our paths never crossed.’
Alexander Payne (left), 59, the Oscar-winning director, has denied claims by Rose McGowan (right), 46, that he raped the actress when she was just 15 years old
In a social media post from last month, McGowan named Payne as the ‘well-endowed’ man who allegedly ‘sat me down and played a soft-core porn movie’ when she was 15 – an incident she first described in 2018 without identifying Payne.
‘If you are out there trying to have sex with an underage minor, you are committing a crime, even if the minor doesn’t know it,’ McGowan wrote in the August 18 ‘bomb of truth’ post on Instagram.
ALEXANDER PAYNE’S STATEMENT IN FULL
Rose McGowan and I have always had very cordial interactions, and I have admired her commitment to activism and her voice in an important, historic movement.
However, what she has said about me in recent social media posts is simply untrue.
Rose is mistaken in saying we met when she was fifteen, in the late 1980s.
I was a full-time film student at UCLA from 1984 until 1990, and I know that our paths never crossed.
She claims that I showed her a ‘soft-core porn movie’ I had directed for Showtime ‘under a different name.’
This would have been impossible, since I had never directed anything professionally, lurid or otherwise.
I have also never worked for Showtime or directed under any name other than my own.
Rose and I did meet years later, in 1991, during my first directing job, when she auditioned for a comic short I was making for a Playboy Channel series.
Although she did not get the part, she left a note for me at the casting desk asking that I call her.
I had no reason to question how old she was, since the role she read for required an actor who was of age.
We later went out on a couple of dates and remained on friendly terms for years.
While I cannot allow false statements about events twenty-nine years ago to go uncorrected, I will continue to wish only the best for Rose.
September 4, 2020
‘I was attracted to him, so I thought it was on me, but that’s not correct. I was not an adult.’
But Payne countered on Friday that McGowan has her facts wrong.
‘She claims that I showed her a ‘soft-core porn movie’ I had directed for Showtime ‘under a different name’,’ Payne writes.
‘This would have been impossible, since I had never directed anything professionally, lurid or otherwise.
‘I have also never worked for Showtime or directed under any name other than my own.’
Payne then recalled the first time he and McGowan met and then briefly dated, though he notes that by this time she was of legal age.
He writes: ‘Rose and I did meet years later, in 1991, during my first directing job, when she auditioned for a comic short I was making for a Playboy Channel series.
‘Although she did not get the part, she left a note for me at the casting desk asking that I call her.
‘I had no reason to question how old she was, since the role she read for required an actor who was of age.
‘We later went out on a couple of dates and remained on friendly terms for years.’
Payne continued: ‘While I cannot allow false statements about events twenty-nine years ago to go uncorrected, I will continue to wish only the best for Rose.’
When asked to respond to Payne’s denial on Friday, McGowan told Variety: ‘F*** him and his lies is my comment.’
Before Friday, Payne, who co-wrote and directed the critically acclaimed films ‘Citizen Ruth,’ ‘Election,’ ‘About Schmidt,’ ‘Sideways’ and ‘The Descendants’, had yet to comment on the allegations.
McGowan – a pioneer of the #MeToo movement who was one of the first women to come forward against Harvey Weinstein – said the alleged ordeal led her to quit acting before she returned to Hollywood after being ‘discovered’ at age 21.
McGowan told Variety ‘it was time’ to name Payne after telling Ronan Farrow in 2018 she had been the victim of a man who ‘picked me up when I was 15 years old’.
McGowan had made her first allegation on Twitter on August 17, asking for an ‘acknowledgement and an apology’ from the director.
‘Alexander Payne. You sat me down and played a soft-core porn movie you directed for Showtime under a different name,’ she said.
‘I still remember your apartment in Silverlake. You are very well-endowed. You left me on a street corner afterwards. I was 15.’
McGowan made her allegations against Payne in a second ‘bomb of truth’ Instagram post on August 18, having earlier named him on Twitter
She also tweeted a picture of herself at age 15, saying: ‘I just want an acknowledgement and an apology. I do not want to destroy.’
Later that same day, McGowan followed up with a longer Instagram post in which she described the alleged ‘grooming’.
‘For years I had thought a man I had sexual relations with was a a sexual experience I had. I now know I was groomed,’ she said.
‘I auditioned for him at 15. After my experience with him, I quit acting entirely until I was ‘discovered’ at 21.
Who is Alexander Payne? The Oscar winning director behind About Schmidt and The Descendants
Alexander Payne was born in Omaha in 1961 to his restaurant owning parents Peggy and George.
Payne co-wrote and directed the critically acclaimed films ‘Citizen Ruth,’ ‘Election,’ ‘About Schmidt,’ ‘Sideways’ and ‘The Descendants.’ He also directed the 2013 film ‘Nebraska’ and the recent sci-fi satire ‘Downsizing.’
He has been nominated for seven Academy Awards and won two Oscars for best adapted screenplay for ‘Sideways’ and ‘The Descendants.’
‘Sideways’ also won a Golden Globe award for best motion picture-musical or comedy in 2004.
Payne graduated from Creighton Prep in Omaha and earned a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and a master’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.
A third-generation Greek-American Payne married second wife Maria Kontos in 2015. The couple have one child, born in 2017.
He was previously married to Killing Eve star Sandra Oh for two years. The couple separated in 2005.
In 2018 he received an honorary doctorate degree in fine arts from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
‘When that happened, I was like, f*** it, let’s do this. I even tweeted a congratulations on his Oscar win in 2012, that’s how deep in the Cult of Hollywood I was.
‘It wasn’t until three weeks after the Weinstein story broke that I re-evaluated the situation.’
She continued: ‘I feel badly about throwing a bomb into someone’s life and career, but I guess that’s social conditioning.
‘I’m more sad than angry. Sad for 15 year-old me. Sad for the adult me that still thought it was a choice I made.
‘Grooming is real. I want you all to know that it’s not your fault if you were mentally massaged into thinking it’s okay. It is not. I know this now.
‘I would even go up to this director at events and ask him, with a smile, ‘remember when you had sex with me at 15?’ And I would laugh it off. That is deep societal programming.
‘When it happened, I’d recently been left behind in Hollywood by a family member to fend for myself. The wolves preyed.
‘Please recognize that if this has happened to you, the shame is not yours, it’s theirs. Give it back. Groomers are skilled operators and at 15, I was not aware of the warning signs.’
She concluded: ‘Goddess bless us all, except for those that abuse their power. Here’s to freedom, yours and mine.’
The actress, 46, took to Twitter on August 17 to make allegations that the Oscar-winning director, 59, was ‘very well-endowed’ and had ‘left her on a street corner’ after showing her the pornographic material
McGowan then posted a black and white headshot of herself as a teenager, adding: ‘I just want an acknowledgement and an apology. I do not want to destroy. This was me at 15.’
Payne and wife Maria Kontos attending a screening in Los Angeles in 2017.
Payne was previously married to Killing Eve star Sandra Oh for two years. The couple separated in 2005
Payne subsequently rose to fame for movies such as Sideways (2004), Election (1999) and About Schmidt (2002).
It was reported in December last year that Payne was set to direct a remake of Babette’s Feast. It is not known where these allegations leave the project.
McGowan was an early face of the #MeToo movement in the fall of 2017 after she accused Harvey Weinstein of raping her.
In January 2018, she gave some details of the Payne allegation – but without identifying the director by name.
Speaking to Ronan Farrow, she said she had been the victim of a man who ‘picked me up when I was 15 years old’.
‘He took he home after he met me and he showed me a soft-porn movie he’d made for Showtime under a different name,’ she said at the time.
‘And then he had sex with me and then he left me next to Cafe Tropicale in Silverlake standing on a street corner.’
McGowan hinted at the time that she would reveal the director’s name when she was ready, having previously given the name to Farrow.
#MeToo movement: McGowan, 46, who was one of the leading activists of the global movement and accused Harvey Weinstein of sexually assaulting her in the 1990s, has now shared that she is ‘in a good place’ following his conviction (pictured together in 2007)
Convicted: The disgraced movie mogul, 68, was convicted in March in a landmark #MeToo case that ended with six of his accusers sobbing and hugging each other from the front row of the courtroom (pictured outside court on February 24)
In May, McGowan said that she is ‘in a good place now’ that Weinstein is serving a 23-year prison sentence for rape and sexual assault.
The disgraced movie mogul, 68, was convicted in March in a landmark #MeToo case that ended with six of his accusers sobbing and hugging each other from the front row of the courtroom.
Weinstein was convicted of raping an aspiring actress in 2013 and forcibly performing oral sex on a TV and film production assistant in 2006.