Rose McGowan is Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered by her new role on Charmed

She's done time in a cult, lived on the streets and been engaged to Marilyn Manson. And still, Rose McGowan is a little unnerved by the recent behind-the-scenes intrigue on Charmed. "It's very strange," says McGowan, who joins the show as younger sib Paige this fall. "If I thought about it too much, it'd freak me out."

Not that you'd know it. The outspoken movie minx tends to rise to the occasion, like when she met uberproducer Aaron Spellin, who considered Denise Richards and Jennifer Love Hewitt for the part. "When I first walked into Aaron's office, I wanted to run," recalls Charmed executive producer Brad Kern. "It's the size of Rhode Island. But Rose was so poised. She might as well have been [getting] the dry cleaning." McGowan recalls "A butler asked if I wanted anything to drink. I looked at him and said, 'Well, hello, Mr. Fancypants.' The whole expe-

rience was hysterical."

Her upbringing, however, was no laughing matter. Born in Florence, Italy, to parents who belonged to the religious cult Children of God, McGowan remembers "seeing weird people [dancing] naked in fields." Her father left the cult when McGowan was 9, moving her and her five siblings to the U.S. She rebelled, dabbling in drugs and running away. ("I'll bet I'm the only Spelling babe to ever

be homeless." she cracks.)

After her breakthrough in the Sundance sensation "The Doom Generation" in 1995, McGowan was memorably crushed by a garage door in "Scream." But until Charmed, she was perhaps best-known for her real-life role as shock rocker Manson's fiancee. Though the two split in January, he's still a sensitive subject. "It was better to realize [our differences] before we got married," she says, blinking back tears. "But that didn't make it easy."

These days, she's trying to adjust to her charmed life. "I've never had a job that's lasted more than two and a half months, so [I'm] still grappling with the fact that this isn't gonna be over anytime soon," says McGowan. "And I don't think I've ever been more tired. I've laughed, cried, been shot at by demons, and we're [only on] the first episode." -----------------------------------------SM

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