In Rose McGowan’s Brave, the actress and activist recounts exactly what she remembers when she met Harvey Weinstein in his hotel suite during the Sundance Film Festival in 1997. As dozens of women accused the former Weinstein Co. boss of sexual assault and harassment last fall, McGowan continually hinted at her alleged assault before tweeting an accusation, and giving more details to The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow. Both The New Yorker and the New York Times reported that McGowan received a $100,000 settlement from her encounter with Weinstein during the festival, but in her new memoir McGowan gives a vivid description of the alleged assault. McGowan claims that her manager sent her to meet with Weinstein, he cornered her in a small room with a jacuzzi, raped her, and she promptly fled the festival to return home.
On the day of the meeting, McGowan says, an MTV crew was following her around, filming for “A Day in the Life of Rose McGowan.” During the meeting, McGowan says Weinstein asked her a series of innocuous questions about her career and the industry, at one point mentioning that his hotel suite had a jacuzzi. McGowan said she thought the aside was odd, but didn’t think anything of it. As he walked her out of his suite, McGowan says Weinstein pushed her into the jacuzzi room where he allegedly forced oral sex on her.
I try to make sense of what the fuck is going on. How could I get pulled into this position and pushed up against this wall? When did my clothes come off? I don’t know what to do. It goes on and on and on. My skin feels like it wants to fall off. His disgusting tongue is INSIDE of me. Oh my God. Tears roll down my face. The water is splashing because he is grabbing himself underwater. One hand is holding me, his other holding it. His tongue stabs inside of me again.
Shaken and upset, McGowan left the hotel immediately after, ran into the MTV crew waiting for her, and was taken to a photo op with a co-star. She left the festival that day. In Brave’s chapter “Death of Self,” McGowan recalls the responses she got when she alerted her team to the alleged assault:
During the photo op, McGowan told another actor in Phantoms what happened in the hotel room.
I am shaking and my eyes fill up with tears; I say where I’ve just come from, and my costar says, “Goddamn it. I told him to stop doing that.”
Though McGowan doesn’t name the actor directly in Brave, in October she called her Phantoms co-star Ben Affleck a liar and identified him as the actor that said this.
McGowan says her manager “counseled me to see it as something that could help my career in the long run.” The actress threw up during the call, and began suspecting that the manager was aware of Weinstein’s alleged intentions.
Her managing agency
McGowan doesn’t name the manager or the agency she was working with at the time, but she called them to tell them what happened in Weinstein’s suite:
I called my management agency. The man who answered was a player, a powerful guy in the town at the time. I told him what happened to him. And he said: “Goddamn it, I just had an exposé about him killed in the LA Times; he owes it to me to not do this.”
At the time McGowan says she wanted to press charges so she spoke with a lawyer who then discouraged her:
Someone connected me with a brusque female criminal attorney who said, “You are an actress. You’ve done a sex scene. You’ll never win. You’re done.” I was cold all over. I was alone. I was all alone.
After speaking with the first lawyer, McGowan got a call from the head of a law firm that she doesn’t name. She proceeds to tell him the story, too, only to feel like he was pushing her to press charges for his own ulterior motive.
I had to tell him the truth once again, feeling violated by sharing a deep open wound with some industry creep I didn’t even know, which felt violating in and of itself. The big lawyer urged, “I really want you to publicly come out against the studio head. It would be a great thing to do.”
Weinstein has denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.