Appearing as a cross between Betty Boop's evil sister and a very curvaceous Hell's Angel, actress Rose McGowan made an undeniably distinct impression on Hollywood in the late '90s. With her sharp tongue and brash sensuality, McGowan has been a source of both titillation and discomfort to an industry that still hasn't quite figured out what to do with women who are both unapologetically smart and sexual.
The child of hippies, McGowan was born September 5, 1975, in Florence, Italy, to a French mother and Irish father. The second oldest of six children, McGowan was raised on an Italian commune run by the Children of God cult. The controversial cult was known for panhandling as well as for taking extremely liberal approaches to parenting. Her family relocated to Oregon when McGowan was ten, and she left the commune at 15, legally emancipating herself from her parents. She supported herself with a variety of odd jobs and even lived on the streets for awhile before traveling to Los Angeles to attend an arts school. It was there that she was discovered by director Gregg Araki, who encountered her loitering outside a gym, refusing to go in because it was "too corny." Araki was busy casting his Sundance entry, The Doom Generation, and gave her the role of Amy Blue, the film's beautiful, spoiled, and morally ambiguous protagonist. Prior to her role, McGowan had only appeared as a minor character in 1992's Encino Man, making her casting in Araki's film all the more fortuitous. The Doom Generation was released in 1995, to mixed reviews and a fair amount of controversy, but helped to establish McGowan as, if not Hollywood's Next Big Thing, then Internet fodder for slavering males everywhere.