Rose McGowan says she would "absolutely" like to testify if given the chance against Harvey Weinstein. McGowan spoke to NPR's Michel Martin a day after the mogul turned himself into police in New York after months of fighting sexual abuse investigations.
"I have had to have his arm around me and smile in photos," McGowan says on Weinstein embracing her at public events. "The cameras would flash and you're just kind of out of your body and [think], 'Don't cause a scene and just go with it,' because what else are you going to do? You're trapped.
"And I would like to have the opportunity to be able to sit right across from him and stare directly in the eye, but not in any way with the camera around me. And no evening gowns."
McGowan was among the first women to go public with allegations against the movie mogul. She reached a $100,000 settlement with Weinstein in 1997 following a hotel room encounter at the Sundance Film Festival that she has described as rape.
Weinstein surrendered his passport, posted a $1 million bail and was fitted with a tracking device. His lawyer has said he will plead not guilty. He is under investigation by authorities in three other cities: Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and London.
McGowan has said Weinstein hired a firm staffed by ex-members of Israel's intelligence agency, Mossad, to track her and try to deter her from going public. An investigation in The New Yorker found that the agents posed as financial advisers and friends, secretly capturing hours of conversation with McGowan and sending the recordings to Weinstein.
"Investigate isn't quite the word I would use — more like terrorize and harass," McGowan says.
She published a book, Brave, about her experience, and a TV documentary, Citizen Rose, that followed her fight to bring down Weinstein. At one book event she got into a shouting match with a transgender woman who interrupted McGowan.
"The altercation I believe was completely paid off by [Weinstein's] side," she says.
She was also charged with felony drug possession after plane cleaners said they found her wallet with cocaine inside at Dulles International Airport in January 2017. McGowan has said she believes she was framed, and she says other women who might testify should steel themselves.
"He has a lot of tricks up his sleeves," McGowan says of Weinstein. "And your life will be gone over with a fine-tooth comb."
Despite the challenges, McGowan says she has no regrets about coming forward.
"I don't regret coming out," McGowan says. "I had ex-Mossad infiltrate my life. This is not normal. ... I would still come out. I would do it all over again."
Still, the experience was traumatic, and McGowan says she had to take time off at a horse farm and living at an old-age home to heal.
Seeing Weinstein face charges has been a release, the actress says. When she heard the news, she says she went to Central Park and cried.
"It really felt like it wasn't me crying, it was like the 23-year-old me that got attacked that was crying," she says. "It was kind of like going back in time, being like, 'We did it. I did it. You got him.' "
McGowan says she did not expect Weinstein to be charged. Now, she hopes he will be convicted.
"It's strange, simultaneously not anticipating him to be arrested and not wanting him to be free," McGowan says. "I'm just going to stay and hope for a while. I know it's going to be a tough slog and a hard road and I hope people stick with it and know that it's for the greater good, and that this man hurt a lot of people whose biggest crime was dreaming."
NPR's Gemma Watters and Natalie Friedman Winston produced and edited this story for broadcast.
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We're going to start today's program with the latest developments in the case of the once-powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. And, as you might imagine, this is a story with elements that may be hard for some to hear. Weinstein turned himself in to police in New York City yesterday to face charges of first-and-third-degree rape and a first-degree criminal sex act. More than 80 women have now come forward with allegations of sexual harassment, assault and rape against Weinstein. The actor Rose McGowan was one of the first, and she's with us on the line now from New York.
Rose McGowan, thanks so much for being with us.
ROSE MCGOWAN: Thanks so much for having me.
MARTIN: As we are speaking, it's been about 24 hours since Harvey Weinstein was formally charged. And I just have to start by asking, what was going through your mind when you saw him present himself to the authorities?
MCGOWAN: It was like watching kind of "Dante's Inferno" come to life - the bad parts. It was kind of like watching hell in handcuffs. I've been, you know, asked a few times yesterday what it felt like. Like, what do you feel? What do you feel? And it's just too big, and it wasn't - the words aren't there for this kind of thing - not, at least, in the language I can speak, that I know of yet.
And, last night, I went to Central Park, and I sat down by the fountain, and I finally cried - but in a kind of half-laughing, half-crying way. And it wasn't - it really felt like it wasn't me crying. It was, like, the 23-year-old me that got attacked that was crying. And it was kind of like going back in time and being, like, we did it. I did it. You got him.
MARTIN: Would you like to testify if there were an opportunity to do so? I mean, the fact is, these particular charges in New York relate to two specific cases that meet specific criteria. But if there were an opportunity to testify, would you like to?
MCGOWAN: Absolutely, I would like to. I have had to have his arm around me and smile in photos, you know. Because he would come up, and he would - they run that photo all the time - and he would stick his arm around his - he did - he liked to do this to the people he had attacked - and put his big, meaty hand around your rib cage and pull you in and smile pretty. And then the cameras would flash, and you're just kind of out of your body and don't cause a scene and just go with it because what else are you going to do? You're trapped.
And I would like to have the opportunity to be able to sit right across from him and stare him directly in the eye - but not in any way with a camera around me and no evening gowns. That's for sure.
MARTIN: Do you have any advice for the women who are going to testify at trial, given, as I said, that you were one of the first to go public, and you were one of the first to offer a detailed account of what you said was your experience with him? The two women who are the - part of this legal complaint have not been as well-known. And do you have some advice for the women who have now been thrust into the spotlight?
MCGOWAN: Hang on. Hang on. He has a lot of tricks up his sleeves. And your life will be gone over with a fine-tooth comb, and it will be hard, and it will be long. But I think the tide has turned, and I hope there's enough evidence that he could be found guilty.
MARTIN: Now, you've written a book about your experiences. It's called "Brave." But, since the book came out in January, it has still been a difficult experience for you. You ended up canceling public appearances after an altercation between you and somebody in the audience at one of your book talks. You were recently in court for a cocaine possession charge. It hasn't been easy for you. And I wonder - forgive me for asking, but I do wonder if you ever regret coming out with your story since all this has transpired since then.
MCGOWAN: I don't regret coming out. I regret that people - especially in the court case in Virginia, you know - I mean, I had ex-Mossad infiltrate my life. Like, this is not normal. I don't know what normal is, to tell you the truth. But if I did know what normal was, I'm pretty sure this would not be it.
MARTIN: It's been documented by a number of journalists that Mr. Weinstein or his organization in his behalf had hired former intelligence agents to investigate people who had made accusations against him. Is that what you are referring to?
MCGOWAN: Well, investigate isn't quite the word I would use - more like terrorize and harass. And I had a million-dollar bounty on my book, as it turned out - the manuscript before it was published. And he succeeded in stealing 125 pages. So it wasn't investigative - it was to terrorize. And it was to extinguish. And it was to stop.
MARTIN: So before we let you go, you said yesterday in a conversation with another news program - "The Today Show" - you said that - and I'm quoting you - you said that "Harvey Weinstein ate a lot of my life." Do you think you're getting it back now? Do you think you'll ever get it back?
MCGOWAN: I think he and I - you know, and I think this is for any human who's been assaulted, but maybe particularly for ones who have to constantly see their assaulter - you're in lockstep with them forever in a lot of ways. Maybe I'll be free someday, but not yet. But I can see his face now and not have a body spasm.
I think, you know, what really saved me was making my art project, which goes with, you know, "Brave," my book. And it - I think that saved me, and I think I came out the other side. And so many people would say, oh, writing a book is cathartic. And I'd say, if you would like to hold onto a shred of your sanity, I don't recommend it. But actually, it was - at the end, with that kind of crescendo finale to it - you know, that week of horrible press. I do feel really free in a lot of ways that I haven't felt before - not for a long, long time.
MARTIN: I do have to ask that, under the law, Harvey Weinstein is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. These are not easy cases to prosecute, as we saw with, for example, the Bill Cosby case. I mean, there were multiple trials. There was a mistrial. There is certainly the possibility that he will be acquitted. And, as I said, under the law, he is innocent until proven guilty. If he is acquitted, how do you think you can handle that? How do you think you'll handle that?
MCGOWAN: I really - it's strange simultaneously not anticipating him to be arrested and not wanting him to be free. It's - I think I'm just going to stay and hope for a while. I just - I know it's going to be a tough slog and a hard road, and I hope people stick with it and know that it's for the greater good and that this man hurt a lot of people whose biggest crime was dreaming.
MARTIN: That's Rose McGowan. Her memoir is called "Brave." Rose McGowan, thank you so much for speaking with us.
MCGOWAN: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.