In the autobiographical documentary Phoenix Rising, actress Evan Rachel Wood says she was “essentially raped on camera” by her former boyfriend Marilyn Manson while filming a music video in 2007, when she was 19 and he was 38. Now she wants YouTube to take the video down.
In the documentary, which premiered at Sundance in January, Wood describes how she and Manson, whom she was dating at the time, had discussed doing a simulated sex scene for the video for his song “Heart-Shaped Glasses (When the Heart Guides the Hand).” But during filming, Wood says Manson started “penetrating me for real” while she was barely conscious, having been given absinthe on set.
Manson responded with a statement from his lawyer, Howard King, who told E! News that Manson “did not have sex with Evan on that set, and she knows that is the truth.” King called Wood’s account an “imaginative retelling,” claiming she was “fully coherent” during the shoot. “The simulated sex scene took several hours to shoot with multiple takes using different angles and several long breaks in between camera setups,” he said, adding that there were “multiple witnesses.”
When the video — which was directed by Manson and inspired by Lolita — came out, the sex scene between Wood and Manson was graphic enough that many suspected it wasn’t a simulation. According to Wood, Manson instructed her to tell journalists she’d had a “romantic” time on set. Meanwhile, he seemed to publicly enjoy speculation about a more sinister reality. “There’s been rumors back and forth, but I will not confirm or deny them,” he told MTV News at the time. Manson also said no actress but Wood could have been in the video “because it was inspired by her.”
Wood, now 34, described being “coerced into a commercial sex act under false pretenses,” which she said was “just the beginning” of Manson’s years of violence. It’s not the first time Wood has accused Manson, whom she dated until 2010, of abuse. In 2018, she testified before the California senate about an anonymous abusive relationship she’d had, eventually naming Manson as her abuser in 2021. She has also accused him of anti-Semitic abuse and threatening to harm her son.
“Heart-Shaped Glasses” has more than 32 million views on YouTube, and this week, Wood shared a petition calling on YouTube to take it down. The petition claims the video violates multiple YouTube community guidelines including restrictions against videos depicting pornography and nonconsensual sexual acts. “Evan has re-victimized herself over and over again to create change … and doesn’t deserve a constant reminder of her sexual assault on the internet,” the petition reads. A spokesperson for the company says it’s “monitoring the situation closely” and will take “appropriate action” if the video is determined to be in breach of creator-responsibility guidelines — which, Pitchfork notes, could depend on a relevant conviction, confession, or ruling.
After Wood first went public with her accusations, Manson — whose real name is Brian Warner — was dropped by his recording label and agency. More than a dozen women have since come forward to speak out about Manson including actress Esmé Bianco and his former personal assistant. Manson’s accusers have relayed unsettlingly consistent accounts of his abusive behavior, which allegedly includes sexual assault, sexual battery, human trafficking, and physical and psychological torture including branding. Manson has categorically denied his accusers’ allegations, calling them “horrible distortions of reality.” He is currently under investigation in Los Angeles over multiple allegations of sexual and physical assault. On March 2, Manson sued Wood for defamation, calling her allegations a “malicious falsehood” that “derailed” his career and reputation. Wood addressed Manson’s lawsuit on a recent episode of Good Morning America, saying, “I am very confident I have the truth on my side.”