“Staying felt like a death sentence”: Evan Rachel Wood opens up on Marilyn Manson abuse allegations in new interview

Evan Rachel Wood on the Navigating Narcissism podcast, and Marilyn Manson at a red carpet event
(Image credit: ERW: Navigating Narcissism (YouTube), MM: Getty Images)

Evan Rachel Wood has given a new interview revealing more details about the alleged abuse she suffered at the hands of her ex-fiancée Marilyn Manson, real name Brian Warner. Speaking to the Navigating Narcissism podcast, Wood recounted the torment she suffered at the hands of Manson and spoke about how her role in the TV show Westworld inspired her to open up about the abusive relationship.

It was back in February 2021 that Wood released a statement claiming Manson had “horrifically abused" and "brainwashed" her during their relationship. "I am done living in fear of retaliation, slander, or blackmail," she said in an Instagram post. "I am here to expose this dangerous man and call out the many industries that have enabled him, before he ruins any more lives. I stand with the many victims who will no longer be silent.”

“When I realised what a physical impact it was having on me, that was a breaking point, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stay quiet,” Wood tells Navigating Narcissism host Dr Ramani. “I realised my silence was keeping me really sick.”

Revisiting how she managed to break away from Manson, Wood says that it was a case of life or death. “There was a moment where I was like, “I’m so afraid of this person, I’ve been threatened so many times, either with blackmail or with force and if I stay here because I’m too scared to leave, I feel like I’m dead anyway’,” she stated. “Staying felt like a death sentence, leaving also felt terrifying because something could happen to me or he could come after me. I felt like either way I feel dead so I may as well try to escape.”

Wood details some of the harrowing experiences she suffered living with her ex-fiancee, such as the occasions where the Antichrist Superstar singer would “isolate” her from other people in the house for two days straight. “You and him and a mound of cocaine and he would keep you up and stay awake just berating you,” Wood recounts, “telling you everything that was wrong with the world and the people around you, everything you were doing wrong, all the ways you were failing him and failing yourself, the suspicions he had towards you, he would start wrecking the house. It was this non-stop onslaught of words and monologues, this constant stream of negativity that I felt like I couldn’t escape and couldn’t stop, it’s where the brainwashing and abuse started taking place. He wouldn’t stop until you gave in or started agreeing with everything he was saying or making the phone calls he wanted you to make.”

Wood also reveals that it was playing the character Dolores Abernathy in the hit show Westworld that inspired her to open up about her experiences. “It was the first time I really let myself go back and feel certain things because I wasn’t able to cry about it until seven years after,” she said. “Then suddenly I’m doing these scenes where you’ve got to go there and it gave me permission and a buffer so I could allow myself in and it just opened up Pandora’s Box. There’s a scene where my character is programmed and she can’t pull triggers of any guns, she can’t defend herself and then there’s a scene where she finally does and she overrides her programming… that scene was a big moment for me, having to act the feeling of being held back and then breaking through it.” It was the first time that she began telling people about the alleged abuse, she says. “I told people on set just in case I got triggered or something so I started opening up to people… doing the show unlocked a lot of things and got me talking about it. I met other survivors on that show.”

The legal battle between Warner and Wood is ongoing. In May, a California judge threw out key sections of a lawsuit Warner had made against Wood, which accused her of fabricating her stories of abuse. Manson has denied all allegations against him.

Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.