-- It was one of the most important nights of the “Me Too” movement.
For McGowan, the night of the Golden Globes was all for show.
“Every time I thought about those black dresses, I would get a body flashback. Every time, even right now,” McGowan said.
“I can feel him there,” McGowan added.
The “him” McGowan was speaking of is Harvey Weinstein. More than 90 women, including McGowan, have come forward to accuse the once powerful movie mogul of acts ranging from sexual misconduct to rape.
McGowan claims others were aware of Weinstein’s alleged exploits.
“This is an international rapist, okay? This is the truth of what it is. This is an international rape factory. Every single place he ever stayed, there were people there set up to help him rape,” McGowan said. “This is how it went. This is what it was. People, women, girls would be said, ‘Oh, you have a meeting,’ or, ‘Come to a party.’”
“They would show up, and that party is just him. Who got them there? Who were the assistants?” continued McGowan.
McGowan alleges that there was machinery in place that enabled Weinstein.
“He is a sociopathic predator. He thinks he’s done nothing wrong,” McGowan said. “I wish just one person would’ve stood up and said, ‘No more,’ because so many people had so many chances to put a stop to this.”
Now, McGowan herself is saying “no more.” In her book, “Brave,” she goes after the Hollywood establishment and tells the story of the day she says Weinstein raped her.
“My life changed. I thought my life was getting easier,” McGowan said.
By this point in her young career, the then-23 year-old actress was known as an “Indie darling,” having played leading roles in films like, “The Doom Generation.” She then catapulted to mainstream success with the movie “Scream.”
“My thought actually was just really, like, ‘Oh, he’ll realize I’m not like the other actresses, that I actually have a brain.’ And that was my goal of the meeting,” she said.
She says her first impression of Weinstein was that “he was a warthog from hell.”
“I thought he was terrifying-looking. I thought he was the single most ugly person I’d ever seen in my life,” McGowan said.
Despite that, the meeting went well; but, as she walked towards the door to leave, McGowan says, things took a turn.
“In my head, I was on my way out a door. My brain was on the next moment of what I had to do that day. And the next thing I know, I’m in a totally completely different situation that is not anywhere my brain had anticipated going. So my poor brain is just, like, shocked. And my poor body is left behind,” McGowan said.
In her book, McGowan wrote that Weinstein pushed her into the suite’s Jacuzzi and undressed her.
McGowan says Weinstein picked her up and placed her on the edge of the Jacuzzi. Then, she said, he began to perform forced oral sex on her.
In a statement to ABC News, Ben Brafman, an attorney for Weinstein said: "Mr. Weinstein denies Rose McGowan’s allegations of non-consensual sexual contact and it is erroneous and irresponsible to conflate claims of inappropriate behavior and consensual sexual contact later regretted, with an untrue claim of rape."
What allegedly happened in that hotel room has had an emotional impact on her, McGowan said.
“I would have night terrors. I would sweat through to the mattress, an inch down into the mattress. I would wake up screaming. And this went on for years,” McGowan said.
McGowan said she met with a female criminal attorney about pressing charges, but was talked out of it.
“She told me, ‘You’re an actress. You did a sex scene. You’re done. You’ll never win,’ and she was right. She’s not wrong,” McGowan said. “I was like, ‘I’m going to have to seek justice in a different way.’”
She would eventually reach a settlement with Weinstein for $100,000. In exchange, she would not pursue legal action against him. A copy of the settlement was posted by The New Yorker.
McGowan said she doesn’t regret signing the settlement.
“It’s a non-factor. He didn’t buy my silence, clearly. I didn’t take money for what happened to me. I took money because it was my only way of saying -- literally my only way of saying, ‘I did not like this. I did not want this. This was not consensual. Get off me. No. Stand back.’ That was it. This was my only recourse,” she said.
In the 20 years since, McGowan said she never thought of breaking her silence and coming forward with what she says happened.
“People were too stupid. The language in the media was not anywhere close to what it needed to be,” McGowan said.
In tweets she posted in 2016, McGowan says she hinted at the alleged attack, writing, “Because my ex sold our movie to my rapist for distribution” and “because it's been an open secret in Hollywood/Media & they shamed me while adulating my rapist."
“When I released that tweet, that was my, like, ‘Okay, come find me, reporters. I’ve given you every single thing but a name. Let’s go.’ It was time. And that’s exactly what happened. My plan worked,” said McGowan.
She says she began talking with reporters from The New York Times and with Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker. Their reporting -- based on her accounts and those of other Hollywood actresses -- finally broke last fall, inspiring dozens upon dozens of other accusers to go public against Weinstein.
McGowan calls the women who came forward “pure beings. They’re wonderful women.”
“Thank you for being brave,” McGowan said tearing up. “I know they’re having nightmares. I know it’s really triggering for so many of us out there. It’s traumatizing for all of us, you know? But it’s so necessary because it’s been there all along anyway, whether you want to look at it or not.”
As a result of the investigations, Weinstein was fired from The Weinstein Company, losing his studio and his status in Hollywood.
But McGowan doesn’t feel like justice has been served.
“This man should be behind bars for the rest of his life. He has stolen. He has hijacked. He has smeared. He has lied. He has purchased. He has done diabolical things in the name of being able to stick his face between women’s legs and literally eat their essence. It’s chilling, and it’s real,” she said.
Weinstein is currently under investigation in Los Angeles, New York and the United Kingdom.
For McGowan, this story doesn’t end with Weinstein. She wants to put a stop to what she calls "the system" -- all the people that she alleges protected Weinstein by turning a blind eye to his misconduct, thus allowing it to continue for decades.
“[Weinstein] was the de facto leader,” McGowan said.
McGowan says she no longer has any desire to act and is instead embracing a different career where she gets to control the narrative. In recent years, she found her voice as a director with the film “Dawn.”
“’Dawn’ I shot about three years ago, and I’m incredibly proud of it. It’s metaphorical about what happens to girls in this society, and what happens to us in the world when we're sent out to be polite,” McGowan said. “The moral of the story is that the predator can either be a monster, he can look like a monster, or he can be the beautiful young man. But they're doing the same psychological damage.”
McGowan’s activism focuses on combating sexism not just in Hollywood, but in all industries.
“My movement is Rose Army. … I trademarked that three years ago in all forms,” McGowan said. “[What I’m doing is] raising consciousness by 10 percent unilaterally across the board, globally. That’s my message. That is my point.”
Brafman's full statement to ABC News read: "Mr. Weinstein denies Rose McGowan’s allegations of non-consensual sexual contact and it is erroneous and irresponsible to conflate claims of inappropriate behavior and consensual sexual contact later regretted, with an untrue claim of rape. This allegation, like her others of being in the CIA and equating a red carpet with being raped, are unsupported. It was Ms. McGowan, and only Ms. McGowan, who chose to demand money from Mr. Weinstein; it was Ms. McGowan who later chose to work with Mr. Weinstein professionally, and it was Ms. McGowan who later elected to personally appear with Mr. Weinstein at his charity event in Cannes. Ms. McGowan also approached Mr. Weinstein to finance a 30 million film she was starring in, a remake of 'Barbarella.'"