Born September 5, 1973. Known early in her career for such movies as The Doom Generation and Scream (1996), she's had a resurgence in popularity with the TV show Charmed, as the fourth sister brought in when Prue died, and her dual roles in Grindhouse.
This actress provides examples of:
- Acting for Two: Played two different characters in Grindhouse, Pam (the blond party girl) in Death Proof and Cherry Darling (the go-go dancer) in Planet Terror. Notable in that three other actors from Planet Terror played the same characters briefly in Death Proof, as well as two other actors playing different characters like her.
- Actor Allusion: A retroactive example in the Charmed episode "The Jung and the Restless" where she wonders why she can't dream about "someone cool, like a Quentin Tarantino." A Tarantino film would end up being her first post-Charmed role.
- Bald Women: She has since sported a buzzcut since late 2015 after shaving her hair, not long after cutting her long hair to a pixie cut a few months prior.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Has been all three colors but notable on Charmed that she cycled through all four in her first few seasons. Was black in season 4, red in 5, blonde in 6 and brown in 7 and 8.
- But Not Too Foreign: Is actually Italian-American but looks very pale, largely due to also being half Irish. Interestingly, her on-screen sister Alyssa Milano is also Italian-American.
- But Not Too White: Averted. She's well known for her pale complexion and it suits her wonderfully.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Dyeing for Your Art: Dyed her hair blonde for Scream (1996). Averted for Death Proof as she simply wore a wig.
- Dye Hard: Naturally brunette but she does often change things up.
- Fake American: She was born and raised in Italy, but has spent most of her life in America. She can still speak the language though.
- Guest Host: McGowan cohosted The Essentials on Turner Classic Movies in 2008.
- Important Haircut: Cut her hair completely short on an impulse after her directorial debut. What's more is that she claims she did it herself with kitchen scissors. A little later she had her head shaved too.
- Irony: Her one scene in the film Nowhere was with her Charmed sister Shannen Doherty, whom she never had any scenes with on the show because McGowan's character replaced Doherty's after she was killed off.
- Long Hair Is Feminine: She said she was told to keep her hair long because if she had short hair "people won't want to fuck you and then you won't get parts."
- Ms. Fanservice: More so early in her career.
- My Girl Is Not a Slut: Felt this way with how Paige was written in Charmed season 5. Paige would be seen with a different guy each episode. She claimed that after her only scene with one love interest was a raunchy moment on the couch, she went to the writers and said "Paige isn't a ho".
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Her Belfast accent in Fifty Dead Men Walking is awful. Ironic considering she is half-Irish.
- Older Than They Look: Would you say she was close to 40?
- Parental Abandonment: Got herself emancipated at 14 years old.
- Perky Goth: Somewhat subverted. Definitely unflappable.
- Playing Against Type: Cherry Darling was more of a ditzy Action Girl, in contrast with her usual Deadpan Snarker characters.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Definitely in season 4 of Charmed. It's no coincidence she played a vampire in that season.
- Romance on the Set: With Robert Rodriguez on Grindhouse.
- Stalker with a Crush: She got one in the form of a man called Louis Santo in the early 2010's. He claimed to be Rose's boyfriend and tweeted her countless times. He even claimed to have saved her life. He was arrested in 2011.
- Stripperiffic: Some of her more outrageous Charmed outfits, such as the Valkyrie and wood nymph. Justified in Planet Terror, as she plays go-go dancer Cherry Darling.
- Type Casting: She's always the Deadpan Snarker. Really, because that's who she is in real life, though Cherry Darling was more of a ditzy Action Girl.
Film Roles include:
- 1995 The Doom Generation as Amy Blue
- 1996 Scream as Tatum Riley
- 2001 Monkeybone as Miss Kitty
- 2007 Planet Terror as Cherry Darling
- 2007 Death Proof as Pam
- 2010 Machete as Boots McCoy (role cut from finished film, but on DVD in deleted scenes)
- 2011 Conan the Barbarian (2011) as Marique
Television Roles include:
- 2001-6 Charmed as Paige Matthews
- 2009 Nip/Tuck as Teddy Rowe
- 2013-4 Once Upon a Time as the young Cora in flashbacks and also as a ghost