‘Phoenix Rising’ follows Evan Rachel Wood on her journey from acting to activism
The headline-grabbing foundation involves Wood’s fight for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in conjunction with a coalition of other survivors, which successfully lobbied to extend the statute of limitations on such cases in California.
At length, Wood describes meeting Manson, a.k.a. Brian Warner, when she was 18 (he was 37), the beginnings of their romance and disturbing allegations about how she was abused, including a music video in which their interactions prompted concern among members of the crew. Manson declined an interview, but his legal counsel provided a detailed statement to the filmmakers saying that he “vehemently denies any and all claims of sexual assault or abuse of anyone,” and that former partners had “weaponized” consensual relationships into “fabricated horror stories.”
“Phoenix Rising” proves most compelling during the first part, which includes a step-by-step breakdown of common patterns that domestic abusers follow to control and intimidate victims. That chapter incorporates Wood’s family issues and history, moving to Hollywood after her parents separated and becoming a child star, appearing in the extremely edgy “Thirteen,” a stark independent film about troubled teens.
Wood, who was 14 while shooting the movie, discusses her discomfort with certain scenes, including one in which she had to make out with a 23-year-old actor. After that role, she recalls being offered various “Lolita”-type parts, and notes that Manson referenced the movie when they first met.
The documentary clearly comes with a specific mission in mind, shining light on the issue of domestic violence through the lens of Wood’s advocacy. Toward that end, HBO is partnering with RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) and other organizations to ensure that the embers stoked by “Phoenix Rising” don’t end there.
“Phoenix Rising” will air March 15-16 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, which, like CNN, is a unit of WarnerMedia.