"Everybody knew. I know that. I was there," McGowan said in an exclusive interview today on "Good Morning America." "People kind of think like I don’t know these people, that I’m on the outside, like they are, looking in."
McGowan, now a filmmaker, activist and author, said she would describe herself as a "curtain" in the movie industry that "absorbed all information from both sides."
"I would be the one that saw both sides, that nobody noticed, that was pretty and there just to be used and discarded when they were done," she said.
The "Brave" author says someone from her management team set up the meeting during the film festival at the restaurant at Weinstein's hotel, the Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley, in Park City, Utah. McGowan said Weinstein moved the meeting to his palatial suite.
"A lot of victims and survivors will say they detach and you really do," said McGowan, who was 23 at the time. "You float up above your body because you’re trying to figure out ... Literally when he grabbed me I was thinking, ‘Oh I hope I still have lipstick on for the camera.’
"Your brain is in another place and all of a sudden your body is like, ‘What, what, what,'" she said. "This is not what I expected at 10 in the morning."
McGowan 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 initially tried to use the settlement money to purchase a billboard.
"It was my only way of saying, ‘I didn’t like this. I didn’t want this.’ It was my only form of voice," she said.
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."
Weinstein has been accused by dozens of women of sexual misconduct. Though the former studio head has sought professional help, his spokeswoman has said that "any allegations of nonconsensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein." Following these claims and reports, Weinstein was fired from The Weinstein Company, banned from the Producer's Guild of America and expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Weinstein is currently under investigation in Los Angeles, New York and the United Kingdom.
"I wish there were charges because I find it very strange, like how many women does it take?," McGowan said. "We’re at over 100 on the list ... We keep adding to it. I would probably estimate like there’s got to be over 1,000, 2,000, because this is a lifelong career of rape for this man."
'It's a complicity machine.'
McGowan alleges there was an orbit of people around Weinstein that allowed his alleged behaviors to continue unchecked for decades.
"For me he’s a sick person. He’s a sick mind, but what about all the others?" she said. "There were so many. The machinery set up in every country he would go to. For the handlers to hand him the victims, from starting with the agents and managers."
"When I say it’s a complicity machine, it is," she said.
McGowan, who is set to star in a five-part documentary series on E!, has become a prominent figure in the #MeToo movement after criticizing Weinstein. She has used Twitter as her voice to address the allegations, hold people accountable and encourage other women to come forward.
"It’s nice being able to speak for myself," she said. "Every interview I did for so many years … started with, ‘What was it like to work with this man?’ Well, it’s exactly like what you’d think."
Acting career ‘was like doing drag as a woman.'
McGowan said her acting career was “like doing drag as a woman, for me."
“The wrong in my life, in that life, I couldn’t pinpoint. I thought it was like micro things,” she said. “I thought it was smaller things that were wrong and in fact I was like, ‘Ah it’s the entire system that’s wrong. OK, got it. I can be free.’"
McGowan stayed in the entertainment industry for so long because she said she felt she couldn’t get a job elsewhere, and acting had been her job since the age of 14.
She described growing up in what she calls a cult and said the entertainment industry employs the same cult-like tactics.
“I thought, ‘Well, God, they’re really spreading misinformation,’” McGowan recalled. “All the suspicions about Hollywood that a lot of people have, they’re true. I wish it weren’t so. I wish everybody was super awesome but sometimes you’ve got to clean house a little bit, and the world.
“And it’s not just Hollywood. It’s just a systemic thing and it’s for men and women. It’s for everybody. Just be free,” she added.
McGowan, who has an album along with her memoir and documentary, said she felt her role in movies was to make female moviegoers “uncomfortable” and to be attractive to men.
“There are messages and everything counts. I believe every detail counts,” she said. “That’s why I say in the beginning of ‘Brave,’ ‘thank you.’ I take it very seriously that my words will rest in your brain. I really considered that.”
McGowan said she trademarked the name “Rose’s Army,” which has become known as the name for her supporters in the #MeToo movement, three years ago as part of a project to see if she could make people “10 percent more awesome.”
“The broader message is about thought. It’s about just looking at things,” she said. “I realized there are no lobbyists for critical thinking and I realized there are no lobbyists for bravery.”
“I say, ‘Be brave. Do it even if your ankles shake, because they will,’” McGowan said.
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.'"
ABC News' Lesley Messer, Alexa Valiente and George Constantino contributed to this report.