THE very idea of interviewing the bold, brave – and possibly slightly bonkers? – Rose McGowan is as intriguing as a Hollywood thriller. On the one hand, her rape accusation against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has been a #MeToo industry game-changer, with McGowan emerging as the blonde-cropped avenger who drove her car at 80mph into a brick wall with Weinstein in the passenger seat.

McGowan had an airbag, in the sense she knew exactly what she was doing, yet there are feminist groups who think she is a self-serving airbag, claiming she is a TERF (a trans-exclusionary radical feminist) and a homophobe, after she said gay men had done little in the battle against sexism (which is ironic given McGowan describes herself as “non-binary”).

Rose McGowan starred in Scream in 1996 and the 46-year-old actress certainly can. McGowan trashed James Corden in a tweet last year, describing the cheeky actor/chat show host as a “motherf****** piglet!” after he cracked jokes against Weinstein at a benefit dinner. In her best-selling memoir, Brave, she said she “fantasised about killing her father”. And once, horrified by the note on an audition script she received for a new Adam Sandler comedy (“push-up bras encouraged”), McGowan shared it on social media. When that prompted her agency to sack her, she posted about that, too: “I just got fired by my wussy acting agent because I spoke up about the bulls**t in Hollywood. Hahaha.”

Yes, a woman of conviction – but with double standards? Rose McGowan has described the red carpet system as “visual rape”, yet when she turned up at the 1998 MTV awards with then (rock musician) boyfriend Marilyn Manson, she wore a see-through dress which offered less front bottom covering than a used Tetley tea bag. She said the dress (or lack of it) was her reaction to having been raped.

Conversation opens with her upcoming visit to the Edinburgh Fringe. McGowan is arriving with her new one-woman show, Planet 9, and her voice is warm as Mars as she explains the premise. “Planet 9 is a place I created for myself when I was 10 years old,” she offers. “It’s about closing our eyes to reality and going somewhere else. The idea of the Planet 9 project began with an album of music, then I added visuals, with spoken word in between. Then I figured I wanted to bring it to the most awesome festival there is.”

Was there some trepidation given the focus the Fringe will create? “At some point you have to give birth to a project but yes. It’s part theatre, and I’ve never actually performed live. I come from movies. It’s a very different stage.”

Rose McGowan’s career trajectory began with work as an extra and progressed to leading roles in indie films such as The Doom Generation. After playing a range of aggressive, punk characters, major fame arrived with Scream, followed by the TV series Charmed in 2001.

Yet, she maintains she never sought any of it. “Acting is my day job,” she says in dismissive tone. “I’ve never been seduced by it. It was never my passion.” Why do it then? It transpires that as a 13-year-old she was talent-spotted outside a gym by a film director.

“I just needed money for rent,” she recalls. “I’d been homeless and I didn’t want to be homeless again. It was something more to be gotten through and do it well, but actually I learned so much.”

She adds “When you are an actor your words are not your own. Your voice is not your own. I would modulate it with every different role but Planet 9 will let people hear my own voice for the first time.”

McGowan has long struggled with identity. She grew up in a world of near slavery in Tuscany where her American parents Daniel and Terry were part of a cult commune, The Children of God.

The women were there to serve the men sexually and to become live bait to attract new recruits.

Young Rose’s parents moved back to the States when paedophilia became part of the cult philosophy.

Thankfully, McGowan wasn’t abused (“I got out by the skin of my teeth”) but this confusing, perverted world had impacted seriously upon the young mind. And her confusion and fear weren’t softened by her parents’ subsequent split.

McGowan lived with her mother and stepfather before running away from home and living for a short time with drag queens. She moved back in with her father for a while, but essentially the teenager brought herself up.

Not surprisingly, she became a rebel. And the film industry picked up on this and cast her in rebel roles. “I’d always been the voice of dissent. At school I had a detention every single day for insubordination and pointing out the teachers’ factual inaccuracies.

“Later on, while in the industry, I developed a line in my mouth that emerged as a result of biting down on my gums, all because I had no power. I had to shove it down.”

Her world, she says, was “broken” after the alleged rape by Miramax film producer Harvey Weinstein in 1997. McGowan was 23 at the time and met Weinstein after the Sundance Film Festival, where she had been promoting a Miramax film, Going All The Way.

She agreed to meet with Weinstein in his suite assuming he wished to talk about her career arc.

But she claims she was violated. So it must have been an exhilarating moment two years ago when she heard that the New York Times was planning to run the Weinstein “exposé”, which resulted in his indictment and international headlines? “It was more terrifying,” she admits.

“And it hadn’t appeared in a vacuum. I’d been fighting for about four years up to that point. But I was happy for a seismic shift to come about.”

When she did go public she must have known that Miramax – and Hollywood – would blacklist her? “Definitely. That is the truth. Now, I’m looking at life on the other side. But it doesn’t hurt too much to be rejected by that which you reject.”

How does she feel now about Weinstein currently attempting to NDA himself out of trouble by throwing money at his accusers? (His trial is set to begin on September 9.) “Well, I think he’s been shown to be a pretty despicable character. The wheels of justice turn slowly but hopefully they will turn in the right direction. Just because he’s rich it shouldn’t mean he can buy people off.”

Her tone shifts, her voice becomes warning. “I don’t want to make this interview all about Harvey Weinstein. This is not what this interview is about.”

OK, but help me out here, Rose. You say you were attacked then you reached a $100,000 settlement with “the monster”.

How does this square with being at the vanguard of modern feminism and later going on to set up your #RoseArmy website (the tagline: Be a thorn! Enlist)? I’d like to know where your head was at the time. “My head at the time was occupied with the idea of buying a billboard which declared ‘Harvey Weinstein Is A Rapist’, she says in avenging tones.

“But no-one would let me buy that billboard so I took the money and donated it to a rape crisis centre.”

McGowan won’t talk more on the subject. (It’s been reported she was talked out of going to the police by a lawyer, who said, astonishingly, that her chances of success were zilch, given she’d once appeared naked in a film.)

Let’s be more general. Where are women now? “I think we are moving in the right direction. Any change in course is a huge leap.” Is she taking men along with her on the journey? Did she go too far in attacking James Corden?

“I can’t speak for that. I will say men get hurt too. They get molested and raped too. It’s not about punishing men. It’s about taking out predators. It’s about not abusing people. If you don’t do that you should be fine.”

Does the casting couch still exist? “I think the casting couch doesn’t exist in the sense it’s not about, ‘If you sleep with me you will get this role.’ It’s more about, ‘If you let me attack you then you will get this role.’ There are super-predators, and there are people, bottom feeders, who will try and trick women to get what they want. That will always be the case.”

Are the lines of engagement blurred these days? Some have argued that the #MeToo movement has gone too far, that men are being castigated for the touch of a female shoulder, the flattering comment, the likes of which Judi Dench and Joanna Lumley find tolerable.

“Well, we have to learn a new way of being,” she suggests in lighter tone. “And as we evolve there will be growing pains. Not everything can happen all at once. When women began to go into the workforce en masse in the 1970s it changed things. We had to adjust. But my question is, ‘Why can’t we all be human to each other?’”

A profile in Elle Magazine said the actress was once seen in the industry as a “crazy outsider with an axe to grind”, who became known as a “loose cannon – too extreme to risk a project on”. Has the dissenting voice softened a little?

“I was forced to develop my voice as a result of being silenced for a very long time, not necessarily about That Thing. (The Weinstein alleged rape.) I did what I set out to do because I had a score to settle.

“So I have. Now, I have the utmost respect for actors who feel it’s their passion and their craft. I just happen not to be one of them.”

McGowan emerges as an incredibly tough and no-nonsense woman, intense and hard, yet as brittle as a candy lollipop. But what would you expect of someone who was brought up in an abusive cult, whose family were beyond dysfunctional, who was left to fend for herself?

What would you expect of someone who witnessed the horrors of Hollywood?

There is more history which makes it hard to diminish Rose McGowan. In 1993 she dated a nightclub boss who was murdered. She went on to have a three-and-a-half year relationship with controversial rock musician Marilyn Manson which ended over “lifestyle differences”.

In 2018, McGowan’s manager took her own life. Jill Messick’s family blamed the Weinstein rape allegation tale and those involved for her death.

McGowan is now in a relationship with model, Rain Dove. But what of her career? “I am going to the Fringe and then I may take Planet 9 around the world. I hope to write another book. My first (Brave, in which Hollywood was roasted) was a bestseller. I see myself as an artist. I’m in a really good place.”

What’s clear is that we need Rose McGowans, the loud, very intelligent voices of change. But perhaps a more consistent, more considered version. What we certainly need is to find and travel to our own Planet 9, given the present-day political/social chaos? “Yes we do. That’s why I think this show is so relevant.”

“But the main thing in life is to be happy,” she adds, in the softest voice. “I deserve to be. We all do.”

Planet 9, The Assembly Hall, Edinburgh, August 15-18.