James Dean and Marilyn Manson (and another interesting comparison)


At the peak of his career at the age of 24, James Dean died on September 30, 1955 after crashing his Porsche Spyder, which he nicknamed "Little Bastard", on the highway. Within a year of the accident nearly four million people had joined his fan club and his studio was receiving up to 4,000 letters every day.

Since today is the anniversary of his death, I thought I would share what I think is a relevant interview with Natalie Wood, his co-star in Rebel Without A Cause, where she analyzes the James Dean she came to know in the months before his death, as opposed to the pop culture icon the world came to love. Listen to this interview in light of the Marilyn Manson allegations, and the perception of Marilyn Manson and his art as opposed to the reality, and see if you can take from it what I took from it, which I think Natalie Wood explains eloquently and sincerely.

  
 
Since we are on the subject of Natalie Wood as well, I thought it would be fun to share something I wrote on a social media platform on February 5, 2021, just days after Evan Rachel Wood came out against Marilyn Manson.

A Comparison of Natalie Wood and Evan Rachel Wood

Natalie Wood


- She was a child actress since a very young age.

- As a teenager she co-starred along with James Dean in her break out role Rebel Without a Cause, in which she plays a depressed Los Angeles student with family problems that finds acceptance in relationships that lead her on a path of no repair.

- While filming Rebel Without a Cause, she was 15 and in a relationship with the director Nicholas Ray who was 43. Nicholas Ray lived at the Chateau Marmont at this time, and this is where they met and had their sexual encounters.

- Also at the age of 15, Natalie Wood was brutally raped by a famous celebrity at the Chateau Marmont. She never revealed this while she was alive, and therefore never named her rapist, except to a few family members, but there were rumors circulating in Hollywood, the most famous being Kirk Douglas.

- She dated many famous people like Dennis Hopper, Elvis Presley, Robert Wagner and Warren Beatty, and she married much older men twice and divorced twice, one of whom was Robert Wagner.

- Though she was obligated to do certain films because she was under contract with her studio, she became so famous and powerful in Hollywood after Rebel Without a Cause that she was allowed to sometimes take on roles she chose, and usually those roles were either very provocative or very dark, especially roles dealing with sexuality and mental illness that were ahead of her time.

- As a child actress who was practically owned by the studios all her life and with a very controlling mother, Natalie Wood found it difficult to function normally and suffered from mental illnesses, especially loneliness, which led her on a destructive path of rebellion, drinking, drugs and sex. She attempted suicide a few times and came close to being successful. This led her to psychoanalysis for a number of years, but being at the peak of her career and perhaps the most powerful actress in Hollywood she had to turn down many now famous roles in order to concentrate on fixing herself and her mental health.

- Though Natalie obsessed with superstardom as a young girl, the older she got the more she just wanted a family and children. To pursue this, she dropped out of making Hollywood films at the peak of her career and concentrated on having a family and later doing mostly television movies in order to be closer to her family. She had remarried Robert Wagner and had one child with him and one child from her previous marriage.

- Natalie had an inner circle of friends that she trusted and confided in, mostly famous, but it also included a few homosexual men she was very close with, such as her long time assistant, and she was ahead of her time on helping them get their careers started in show business and supporting their projects.

Evan Rachel Wood

- She was a child actress since a very young age.

- As a teenager she co-starred along with Nikki Reed in her break out role Thirteen, in which she plays a depressed Los Angeles student with family problems that finds acceptance in relationships that lead her on a path of no repair.

- From a young age Evan was obsessed with the novel and film Lolitta, about an older man in a relationship with a teenage girl. In Down in the Valley, she was sixteen and her character had a relationship with Edward Norton, who was 36. It is said they even dated in real life.

- When she was 19 she met 37 year old Marilyn Manson at the Chateau Marmont, and they started an off and on relationship that eventually became an engagement. She would later accuse Marilyn Manson and someone else from this time period that she has not named of raping and abusing her. She never named her alleged rapist till February of 2021. Also, when Evan met Manson, she had recently finished filming the movie King of California, in which she stars alongside Michael Douglas, the son of Kirk Douglas.

- She dated many famous people like Sean Wallace, Alexander Skarsgard, Jamie Bell and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and she was engaged twice and married and divorced once with Jamie Bell, with whom she had gotten back together after many years.

- She is known most for her very provocative or very dark acting roles, especially roles dealing with sexuality and mental illness.

- As a child actress who grew up in the theater world and the Hollywood studio system, Evan Rachel Wood found it difficult to function normally and suffered from mental illnesses, which led her on a destructive path of rebellion, drinking, drugs and sex. She attempted suicide a few times and came close to being successful. This led her to psychoanalysis for a number of years, which included going to a psychiatric clinic.

- Though Evan was obsessed with superstardom as a young girl, the older she got the more she just wanted a family and children. To pursue this, she left Hollywood for the most part and concentrated on having a family and doing mostly television work.

- In 2011 Evan came out as a bisexual before anyone else, which in her younger years caused her much confusion and depression to which she ascribes her slip into near destruction, and went on to become very vocal as a bisexual and has made much effort to spread awareness.

Last but not least, the most obvious comparison is that 
both have "Wood" as their last name.

Natalie Wood is my favorite actress and during the pandemic I watched all her films and read some books about her. When Evan Rachel Wood, my least favorite actress, came out publicly against Manson, Natalie Wood was fresh in my mind. So I wrote this out to make the comparison which was running through my head. I wondered at the time if she, who has the same last name as Natalie Wood, and has such an appreciation for old Hollywood, was perhaps trying to model her life on Natalie's, even to the point of making a false accusation of rape with an older man to emulate Natalie. The more I thought about it, however, the more I leaned against it. The comparison is pretty eerie nonetheless, and perhaps says something about Hollywood. But Natalie Wood, who had a tragic death, was in a good place personally towards the end of her life (she died at 43), never causing public controversies, but always being sweet and mature and positive, yet always working behind the scenes to help others and  make progressive changes in ways that mattered, instead of being loud and annoying and self-righteous. Her main focus was her family and children and friends and then her career. She was also discovering more and more her Russian heritage, and wanted to write an autobiography. Despite all the tragedies in her life, she never talked about them publicly, but always moved forward and was a truly strong woman who overcame many obstacles, and had a great sense of humor about everything. Evan Rachel Wood had the potential of being the same, but she took a wrong turn and became the opposite of Natalie Wood, projecting her pain and beliefs to everyone to the point that it is what she is now known for, and if you don't understand or care about her vocalized pain then there is something wrong with you. It is for reasons like this that I never refer to her as just "Wood", such as if I were to say in an article "Manson and Wood", but I always call her "Evan" because as far as I'm concerned she is unworthy of the last name of my favorite actress who made a name for herself for her great talent and her outer and inner beauty, Natalie Wood.