Rose McGowan has been in the limelight since she was a teenager, bursting onto the scene in Gregg Araki’s critically acclaimed The Doom Generation and then hitting box office gold with Scream before getting Charmed on TV. With cult hits like Grindhouse, Nip/Tuck and the Conan the Barbarian reboot under her belt, she made her directorial debut last year with the short horror film, Dawn. These days, the actress is starring virtually alongside Jon Bernthal, Bill Paxton and John Malkovich in Sledgehammer Games’ Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Havoc DLC. She talks about the joy of killing the undead and shoots through Playboy’s Lucky 7 Questions.
What it’s been like stepping into this world of Call of Duty?
It’s a pretty bad ass world. It’s a tough world, but with John Malkovich next to you, it’s not that bad.
Were you a gamer as a kid?
Oh, yeah. It was all about House of the Dead. I was good at House of the Dead 2. That was my favorite, killing zombies on Sega.
House of the Dead was notoriously known for having really bad voice acting.
Oh, my god the acting was so painful in that game. It was hilarious. I think it would be funny to do one of these games in that old bad acting style, except only a very few people would get the joke. But it’s also really cool that a company [like Activision] is hiring people like John Malkovich to come and rip stuff up. It’s pretty punk, actually, because it’s not like they’re beholden to a typical studio system with who they hire and what they want to do. They just do whatever they want, and that’s a cool company to work with.
Have you gotten a sense of how big a phenomenon Call of Duty is?
It’s crazy. It’s kind of insane actually. It’s hard to wrap your brain around the scope of it. You know, people like shooting things. As long as it’s not real, or an animal, I’m good. It’s cool.
A lot of people just like to burn off steam at the end of a day.
Yeah, exactly, and it’s great for that. But I don’t agree with the games like I the new Grand Theft Auto where there’s a hooker character that you can buy. That could be a lot of young men’s first contact with a voluptuous female character that they interact with. That’s pretty messed up. That’s not cool, but Call of Duty is not about that, so I like it.
How good are you at shooters like Call of Duty?
I’m better in real life. Actually, it’s true. I’m better at shooting real guns.
Why do you think zombies remain so popular?
I don’t know. Isn’t that funny? I grew up a ballerina, but I’ve had a lot to do with zombies. I don’t know. Is it fear of death? Is it fear of what happens to us afterwards? Is it just fun to shoot things that splatter? Maybe it’s all of the above.
What was your first exposure to Playboy magazine?
It was a farmer named Fernando in Italy. It sounds very terrible, but he would feed my brother and I stale Kit Kats in his barn and show us old Playboys. We didn’t understand what we were looking at, exactly. I just wanted to play with all the little lambs and sheep that were in the barn. So I looked at Playboy as a way to get to the sheep. I think old Fernando might have been a perv. I lit his barn on fire, so I got him back.
What movie scared you the most as a kid?
It took me ten years to get through The Omen. I have a notoriously bad time with horror movies, or psychologically stressful movies. I would have a heart attack around the time they said, “It’s all for you, Damien.”
I know exactly what it would be. It would be Steak au Poivre from Balthazar Restaurant in New York. And then I would have spinach and then I would have Cherry Garcia ice cream. I’ve thought about that.
What’s your favorite mistake in life?
God. Favorite mistake? Well, I suppose that could be every relationship. It must be a favorite if you keep doing it.
What’s your pop culture blind spot?
My pop culture blind spot is probably modern music. I kind of live in the ‘20s, lately I’ve been listening to a lot of World War I era music, so I kind of stick with the past.
What’s the first song you knew the words to?
“Darling Nikki,” by Prince, and I didn’t understand entirely what the words meant until later. I’m like, “Oh, a nice song for a 10 year old to go around singing.”
What was your first car?
My first car was amazing. It was a 1976 yellow VW bug. I bought it in what was, like, a gang area in south Seattle and I had no idea how to drive a stick shift. My dad was, “Okay, drive it home, figure it out.” And it took me four hours to get out of gang-warfare land. It was awesome. I loved that car.