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Rose McGowan and Ronan Farrow explain how the Harvey Weinstein story came together

“This time, I’m gonna win.”

Rose McGowan and Ronan Farrow Maricela Magana/Michael Priest Photography

Last Thursday, Rose McGowan sat down with Ronan Farrow at New York’s 92nd Street Y to make what she’s since said will be her last public appearance for a little while.

McGowan has been promoting her new memoir, Brave, and an E! docuseries called Citizen Rose, both about her advocacy for women in Hollywood. But last Wednesday at a book reading, activist Andi Dier, the founder of Transgender Advocates for Revolution, challenged McGowan over transphobic comments she’s made in the past.

“I have a suggestion,” Dier said. “Talk about what you said on RuPaul. Trans women are dying and you said that we, as trans women, are not like regular women. We get raped more often. We go through domestic violence more often. There was a trans woman killed here a few blocks [away]. I have been followed home —”

McGowan and Dier began shouting over each other, and eventually Barnes & Noble security dragged Dier out as McGowan wept.

“Cis people keep pretending trans women are a third gender or something,” Dier said in an interview after the altercation. “To be frank — that’s getting us killed. Trans issues are women’s issues. If we’re not fighting for trans women, we are not fighting for women.”

McGowan has since canceled her planned book tour and has said that she believes Dier was paid to confront her.

That’s the kind of statement that McGowan is prone to making, which sounds completely nonsensical until you remember that the New Yorker published a paper trail showing that Harvey Weinstein, whom McGowan has accused of rape, actually did hire ex-Israeli military agents to spend an entire year infiltrating her life. In this case, there’s no reason to think that Dier is a paid agent — she’s an activist with a long history of work — but you can see how someone with McGowan’s past might get there.

Rose McGowan has said some pretty transphobic things in the past. She’s also working out her trauma in an incredibly public forum, and she’s doing so while also attempting to advocate for women — albeit in a way that tends to center cis white women.

There are enormous issues with a lot of what she says, but there’s also incredible value in her thoughts on what it’s like to have grown up in one cult (McGowan lived with the Children of God until she was 9) and then escaped it for the cult of Hollywood, and on being assaulted by some of our culture’s most prominent and influential storytellers.

The day after the confrontation with Dier, McGowan was joined at the 92nd Street Y by Ronan Farrow, who helped break the Weinstein story for the New Yorker — and who, as the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, knows a few things about standing up to powerful Hollywood men accused of sexual assault. Together, they talked about what it was like to put the Weinstein story together, about when to call a rape a rape, and about the Hollywood machine that keeps the whole system of predators going. Their conversation would become McGowan’s last appearance on her truncated publicity tour.

Highlights from their conversation follow, lightly edited for length and clarity.

What it’s like to watch Harvey Weinstein deny everything

Rose McGowan and Ronan Farrow Maricela Magana/Michael Priest Photography

Rose McGowan

If you want to keep sanity, I can’t recommend ever writing a book. I now understand all these things about writers that I previously didn’t quite get. I also now understand why people don’t launch three massive enterprises in one day, with a giant social enterprise going on behind them.

Ronan Farrow

Admittedly, most writers don’t have Mossad agents chasing them — former ones, anyway — trying to get portions of your manuscript.

Rose McGowan

Successfully.

Ronan Farrow

It certainly appears that at the very least, we were able to report in the New Yorker that transcripts describing the manuscript in detail were delivered back to your alleged attacker.

What was it like, after so many years of being disbelieved, waking up, seeing things like that in print, having the conversation change in a way where people actually accepted what you had been saying for so long?

Rose McGowan

I think that I’m still fighting, Ronan, because you see, people don’t like — and I don’t understand this: If someone’s really just trying to stop either a pedophile or a rapist, that seems like you wouldn’t be able to hire the world’s most talented lawyers, like David Boies and Charles Harder. You would think that they would want to steer clear of something as ugly as that. But no. In fact, they lean in. And in fact, they both go up against me. You know, Variety and Peter Bart was paid off for years, I mean, we all know these things, right? Allegedly, let me just say that. We have to keep saying that. He was consensually paid off.

Ronan Farrow

There’s been a lot of denials of nonconsensual behavior.

Rose McGowan

Certainly.

I can’t tell you what it feels like. It feels violent. It feels degrading.

Ronan Farrow

The denials feel violent to you.

Rose McGowan

I don’t know what it’s like to get to face down my attacker in court. But I do know that they lie. They lie.

How the Weinstein story came together

Rose McGowan in 1997
McGowan circa 1997.
Ron Galella/WireImage

Rose McGowan

I worked at this for three years. I worked at this for 20 years, to bring this man down. Strategically.

Ronan Farrow

And I will say, Rose was telling this story to reporters much earlier than this was public. That is certainly the case, and a lot of this [the reporting of the Weinstein story] quotes from those conversations. There were a lot of great people who came forward, but you did early on do work that was instrumental in setting this in motion.

So for those who have come forward, anyone in the audience who this is resonating with and who has stepped out of the shadows with a story about sexual harassment or assault, she did that in a climate where it was very, very difficult, as any of you who have those experiences understand. You did that alone, as far as I can tell.

Rose McGowan

Yes. I decided to embark on a social reengineering project, because why not, I was bored. I thought people were quite stupid, and maybe they could be better.

I trademarked Rose Army three years ago [per trademark records, it was in 2016] and I started shooting for the documentary that I knew was going to be on E!. I also got the Kardashian producers. Why? Because of Marshall McLuhan. I really believe the medium is the message, and I really believe in being egalitarian and smashing the 99 and 1 percent. So I knew if I did anything, and talked about Brave or any of this, on HBO or Netflix, for people with extra money — E! actually has a wide audience reach. But the book had to come out.

It had to be bam bam bam. The articles — I didn’t know if was going to be articles, no offense, sorry about the cease and desist, Ronan. Twice.

Ronan Farrow

Rose told her story when she was ready. And before she was ready, she was … not ready.

Rose McGowan

I’ll say, it wasn’t the right place. I just needed you to get in a race. Sorry.

Ronan Farrow

What she’s referring to is, we did an interview on camera, on the record, in January, a little more than a year ago.

Rose McGowan

After I’d already been speaking to the New York Times.

Ronan Farrow

So she was talking to multiple reporters, and then there was a period where you were in a lot of legal jeopardy, right? Spent a lot of money on legal bills. And she said, “The legal angle’s coming after me, he’s coming after me,” and then bowed out.

Rose McGowan

That’s not really true. Sorry. What it was was that I did not want … NBC was not the right place. It was never the right place. It was never going to be aired by them if I could have helped it. I needed to get two newsrooms in a fight. Because I’ve lost out by men having ego contests for years, and I thought, this time, I’m gonna win.

Ronan Farrow

But you’ll recall, you were on board with being on the record in that format on NBC right through July, because I went to your home, remember?

Rose McGowan

I know what I did.

Ronan Farrow

We had an intensive conversation about what’s the right way to break this story. And you recommitted even at that late point. And then at the end, you said — it was an exact quote, we used it in the New Yorker: “The legal angle is coming after me.”

Rose McGowan

Yes, but I had to use that angle. Sorry. I knew my book was going to come out, I knew my voice was going to be louder.

These women — Asia Argento, Annabella Sciorra — there’s all these women, over 100-something now by our count, there’s many many more — I didn’t want to stomp on their voice. They haven’t been heard.

Ronan Farrow

But I will say, the fact that you were on the record for all those months, until you did pull out, send cease-and-desist letters, and then you did go back on subsequently for those other articles — but those months of being on the record did empower countless other women.

So even when you look at that initial body of reporting, I really do feel you have to owe Rose a significant debt of gratitude and credit for creating that story. Because many of the women you just mentioned went on the record at a time when you were, for all those months during the NBC reporting, on the record. And they knew that someone had come first. And then many of them went on talking to you in the months after.

Rose McGowan

That’s why I went back on after so long. We’re just talking about this now for the first time, we’re figuring it out together.

It was kind of like doing weird undercover work, or something. That’s not the right word. Playing two news organizations that are very powerful off of each other is a dicey business at best. What I knew to do — I knew when I was about a year out from the book most likely being finished, was that I had to puncture. I had to get people to look askance at the propaganda machine that fills their brain.

We know, right? We know what we’re seeing. But a lot of times we’re just chilled out about it. But the thing is, I know the people behind those messages that you get. As do you, a lot of them.

Someone asked me, if you were in Oz, who would you be?

Ronan Farrow

Who would you be, Rose?

Rose McGowan

The curtain. I would be the curtain.

Ronan Farrow

And not the man behind the curtain. You are the curtain.

Rose McGowan

I’d be the curtain. The curtain’s very pretty. The curtain gets used, it can’t decide. Nobody really notices the curtain. They appreciate that it’s there, but they just pull it aside when it’s done. The fabric gets shredded, ripped. But it absorbs everything from both sides.

From this side, presentationally, it looks so great to you, right? This is the curtain that we see from the back side. You see everything too, but nobody notices the curtain. The curtain’s taking notes.

Ronan Farrow

Talking about that journey, of, as you say, making news organizations your pawn, getting the story out in the right way —

Rose McGowan

Because so many people had tried to break it. David Carr at the New York Times —

Ronan Farrow

Yes, and I did an article about the intimidation a lot of those reporters face.

Rose McGowan

You know, I’ll talk to anyone about it. That’s the thing. People will come and sit next to me at a dinner, and I would throw it out there. Because I knew someday, that stone was going to help somebody. And that somebody was you.

“The only perfect rape victim is a dead rape victim”

Rose McGowan and Ronan Farrow Maricela Magana/Michael Priest Photography

Ronan Farrow

I spent a year listening to a lot of powerful men call these women, who were relating the worst experiences of a lifetime, crazy. Call them unstable. Call them unreliable narrators, and a lot worse things that I won’t repeat on this stage. That was something that was lobbed at your story. Countless times I’ve sat in rooms and defended the fact that that on-the-record testimony from you mattered.

In an environment like that, where people are so reluctant to believe — and in particular, to believe women — you were smart, in that at least for those six months where we had you on the record, it was enough time that there were always multiple women on the record on that story. And unfortunately, while we now live in an environment where a heavily corroborated story from a single individual woman can run if it has the right news value — that’s always a tough decision, but it can — back then, we needed that. We needed multiple women. And we always met that threshold.

That is why the story survived for those months; it’s why it ended up at the New Yorker eventually. That complicated saga, of you being on the record that long and then falling out and then circling back into the story: It raised an interesting larger thematic question for me. Which is: There are people who react to the periods of silence — the years and years of silence before, the strategic periods around these stories and then coming back in — and have said publicly, “Well, why not earlier? Why didn’t you share this story? Did you have feelings of guilt about not sharing this story earlier?”

In the periods of silence, there are other women who claim that they were attacked. Do you ever feel, at any time on any day, conflicted about the fact that you hadn’t spoken?

Rose McGowan

No, that was the first thing I did. And then the head manager at my agency said, “Goddammit. I just had an exposé about him killed at the LA Times. He owes it to me not to do this.” This is 1997.

I tried. I tried. Who was going to believe me, Ronan? Who? This society? No. Come on. The only perfect rape victim is a dead rape victim, and that is a fact and we all know it.

And all that “you took a payout.” I didn’t take a payout. I demanded it. It was my only way of saying, “F you, I don’t want this, I don’t like this,” and I tried to buy a billboard with it. General Outdoor did not go for “Harvey Weinstein is a rapist” on Sunset Boulevard, I’m truly shocked.

What it was like to grow up with the Children of God

Television Press Tour
McGowan at a 2001 panel discussion promoting The Killing Yard.
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Rose McGowan

We’re in this palazzo, incredibly beautiful, in Tuscany. It sounds lovely. It was multinational, multicultural — not that I knew what that meant. But there was always danger. And every room I looked in, I’d try to find what could protect me. And what I could kill somebody with if I needed to.

So I was walking down a hallway, this stone hallway. I remember because I always loved light, these light shafts. I was just staring, watching dust dance. And this door opens, and the man picks me up. Like most things, it happens quick and slow. He took a razor blade, he cut a wart that I had on my thumb off, and then he set me down, shut the door, and I was there, blood coursing down me.

Ronan Farrow

You’re 4 at the time.

Rose McGowan

Yes.

Ronan Farrow

The reason that I ask about that incident, and it struck me — first of all, knowing you in the present day. You talk about entering rooms and searching for weapons, and that being an instinct that you have.

Rose McGowan

I still do.

Ronan Farrow

And I know that even when you talk about the saga of how you engineered your relationships with reporters — even those months later, after those months on the record, there was this period where you really went to 11 and said, you know, “I’ll send lawyers after you” — and then you were back in.

Rose McGowan

I had to, sorry.

Ronan Farrow

What was striking to me was, when you went back on the record, you came to me and said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know who to trust. I didn’t know what was real.”

I was immensely moved by that. Because even though it had made my life hell for a little while — nothing on the order of the hell you were going through, of course — it was revealing about who you are. That there is some desire to open up and connect, but also you have this long, long history of being wronged.

Rose McGowan

Yeah.

Ronan Farrow

How do you contend with that?

Rose McGowan

[Crying] I don’t know. I just do.

I contend with it to push me through the atmosphere. I contend with it because it’s wrong, and it’s wronged so many of us. I contend with it because I hear women’s voices everywhere I go. I contend with it because I’ve always heard the underdog; I believe you have too. I hear their voices, and I’ve worked so hard to get to a place, you guys, where I could speak.

When to call a rape a rape

Rose McGowan and Ronan Farrow Maricela Magana/Michael Priest Photography

Ronan Farrow

You told me that long before the Harvey Weinstein incident that you recounted to me, there was a statutory rape by a prominent man in Hollywood.

Rose McGowan

Yes. And I didn’t process that, actually, until … I’ll get to him.

Ronan Farrow

Is that a story you’re ready to tell?

Rose McGowan

Right now? In general, sure. Right now at this moment, I had a big day. I only had a banana, I’m busy, sorry. It would make this night very spectacular, wouldn’t it?

Let me tell you: He worked for my rapist and won Oscars. And let me tell you, this man picked me up when I was 15 years old. This man, he’s very famous. He took me home after he met me, and he showed me a soft porn movie he’d made for Showtime. Under a different name, of course. And then he had sex with me. And then he left me on a street corner.

But in my mind, playing it back, I had always thought I had been attracted to him. So I had always filed it away under a sexual experience, even though I had not, you know, other than somebody else at a clothing store, had, uh. … Like, I thought my period was going to last an hour when I first got it. I don’t know what a normal trajectory is. I don’t know if you do either.

Ronan Farrow

I do not.

But you said something that I think is important there. You’re describing a powerful man in Hollywood with a 15-year-old girl. That’s quite a stark moral question. But you did say, “This was something that I reassessed years later. That at the time I didn’t think of it as an assault.”

Rose McGowan

Two minutes after your story came out, is when … I had processed it, but I didn’t really process it in terms of … I removed myself from the situation. I was like, “That creep did this to a 15-year-old.”

It was not until about two weeks after your story broke — our story, everyone’s, the world’s story — that I was in bed. All this stuff, it’s been intense, the stress level. I started crying, and I thought, “Oh, my god, I think that’s molestation. Is it?” I don’t know the words, you know? Men get to name these things.

Ronan Farrow

You were an underaged person at the time. In that case, it is a very bright-line situation where a crime was committed. In other cases, that kind of reassessment years later of something that maybe both parties found acceptable at the time is happening around the country. I think a lot of women got woken up at that same moment, and many men too.

Rose McGowan

Yes, you can go back and trace the breadcrumbs of your life.

Ronan Farrow

So that, what we just described, is a phenomenon that is going to be very frightening and troubling to many people. Should people be worried about that kind of reassessment? Is there a pitfall of innocent situations being turned into something else in retrospect?

Rose McGowan

I’ve been pulled over speeding a couple times. But I’ll tell you what, I’ve sped a lot more than I’ve been pulled over.

Ronan Farrow

So you think that the benefits of what’s happening right now outweigh the costs.

Rose McGowan

It’s 2 percent. It’s 2 percent. It’s 2 percent of all reported cases are false — 2 percent. And that’s very few rape cases that even get brought. It’s such a minute, infinitesimally small amount because often you don’t know quite what happened to you, honestly.

Ronan Farrow

But it was very clear, because you were on the record from stage one, saying, “This is a rape.” We had a conversation where I said, “Look, I think we’re going to be able to say the word misconduct, but I’m getting a lot of pushback from a lot of lawyers.” And you said, “Show the lawyers this footage: This is a rape.”

Rose McGowan

I spoke into the camera.

Ronan Farrow

And you used the word. And you were emotional. But I could not get anyone to watch that.

Rose McGowan

They wouldn’t watch it, the lawyers at NBC.

Ronan Farrow

Transcripts were reviewed, and it was indeed hard to use the word rape.

Rose McGowan

You know why that makes me mad? Not just because they didn’t watch it. But the etymology of the word rape. Who gets to name what happens to my body? Men. Who gets to vote on how much time it’s punishable for what’s happened to my body? Men. Who gets to invent all the words that go along with this, that are not nuanced. Misconduct, come on. It sounds like a sports thing, it’s so trivial.

Ronan Farrow

Once this story was at the New Yorker, we had a conversation about this. This wonderful woman editor, Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn, was one of the people in the room who advocated for, “You have to use the term rape when it is, in fact, a rape.” And that is, in fact, deceptive and disingenuous with your readers to use a term like misconduct if it is in fact, by any legal definition, a rape.

I hope that one of the things to come out of this moment and this conversation and your candor about what you went through is people understanding that that is the term that is important to use. And that the definition of it is broader than maybe some people traditionally understood.

What it means to separate the artist from the art

Vital Voices Global Partnership: 2017 Voices Against Solidarity
Farrow with Rosanna Arquette and guests at the 2017 Voices Against Solidarity Awards.
Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Vital Voices Global Partnership

Rose McGowan

The thing is, you guys see people on your TV, you like them, you become friends with them. They’re affable, right? “Bill Cosby is America’s dad.” No, he’s not. He’s America’s No. 1 rapist. Get it right.

Our heroes have to be better. I’m not saying they should necessarily fall, but they have to be better.

Ronan Farrow

The role of hero worship in this entire phenomenon and this conversation is fascinating. Because if you look at the reaction to those Cosby stories, many of those women were viciously smeared. It was not all that many years ago, but I remember reporting on this, and the tenor was much more, “But hey, what about his art, what about what he contributed to comedy and to race in America?”

Rose McGowan

I bet you’ve heard those arguments a lot too, haven’t you?

Ronan Farrow

I’m familiar with some of them.

You know what I will say, if there’s a credible allegation about sexual assault, the conversation about art can continue. But it is separate, and it should not preclude the discussion of a rape allegation.

“Am I angry? Goddamn right I am.”

Rose McGowan Maricela Magana/Michael Priest Photography

Ronan Farrow

I think one thing that you get a very real sense of from reporting a story like this is there is nothing in it for this woman. Rose did not stand to profit off this. Certainly to the extent that she’s now got a book deal, it’s nothing compared to the hell that was inflicted on you.

Rose McGowan

That’s something that drives me insane right there. Profiting. You’re right. I should never make any money, ever again, off of my art or my talent. You are completely correct.

I had my body violated. I had my career stolen. I had millions of dollars and awards and who knows what else — not that I want those — taken from me. I was smeared viciously, worldwide, worldwide, by paid-off journalists in your profession, your esteemed profession. They were paid to slam me and slander me. It affected every area of my life. Every single person I met, my family, treated me like that person. Men treated me like they own me. Women hate me. Thanks a lot!

But you’re right, I shouldn’t profit off any work that I do. But all of you can. Go for it.

Am I angry? Goddamn right I am.

The Barnes & Noble controversy

Rose McGowan

I was always scared. I’m still scared.

Ronan Farrow

What are you scared of now, Rose?

Rose McGowan

Assassination.

Ronan Farrow

You really think you could be killed? Someone laughed, but I know you’re not joking.

Rose McGowan

Why is that funny?

Ronan Farrow

I don’t think they’re laughing insensitively. I think people think that’s ridiculous.

Rose McGowan

Yeah, but I don’t care what you think. I know my life, and I know my reality, and I know that people like me get killed.

Ronan Farrow

And this is not new. When we had our very first interview, you said, “He could kill me.”

Rose McGowan

Yeah, and he could. He’s been after me for a while.

There was a plant last night. I had my first reading — something I’ve only seen in movies, by the way — and there was definitely a paid plant that got up and started screaming at me and yelling at me.

Ronan Farrow

What made you think that was a paid plant?

Rose McGowan

I have people who were watching the exchange and how it got handed off.

Ronan Farrow

There are people who will hear that and say, “Just an angry member of the public.”

Rose McGowan

I don’t care what people say. Please get that straight.

Why there are no perfect victims

Barrymore '98
McGowan with Drew Barrymore in 1998.
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

Ronan Farrow

What I have learned, in hearing you bravely recount your story, and then woman after woman, is there are no perfect victims.

Rose McGowan

Are there perfect people?

Ronan Farrow

There is no, “Oh, she’s educated enough, straitlaced enough, stable-seeming enough in whatever traditional way” —

Rose McGowan

I would like to put the men who say all those things and the women who say all those things on trial.

Ronan Farrow

Well, I understand where they come from. I understand that even with good intentions, people try to insulate stories like this from attack, look for those things. But it’s very important for reporters to separate two different things: how someone appears and the credibility of the underlying claims.

It was never a question for me whether Rose’s underlying claims checked out. Because from square one, the first thing I did was I found the people you said you told right after; I found the paper trail of the documents you had talked about. And that was the relevant thing.

Why the reckoning came now

Ronan Farrow

There was a chain of events, and a lot of it began to emerge around the time that you’re talking about. The Cosby accusers came forward. My sister came forward with that allegation against a powerful man. After that, there was the Roger Ailes story, the Bill O’Reilly story, and on and on and on.

Now, that climate was very different. We talked about the reaction to the Cosby accusers.

Rose McGowan

It wasn’t time yet.

Ronan Farrow

What changed?

Rose McGowan

Anger. The permission to have a voice.

I think Trump changed things for liberal men. Like, “Oh, this is what that is?” “Yes, that’s what that is.” And it became hard to lie about to themselves. It became so obvious, and it became so blatant, and it became so obviously a crime that it helped to reframe.

It’s like that whole misnomer with Time magazine, “the Silence Breakers,” which drives me nuts. You just took your damn earplugs out. Or rather, I kicked them out of your head.

We have always been talking collectively. Women have always been talking collectively. People of color have been talking, since I was 14, about black men getting killed by police, and only recently are people suddenly, “Oh! Black people are getting killed by police!”

Being willfully obtuse will no longer fly.

The problems with Time’s Up

Focus Features Golden Globe Awards After Party - Arrivals Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic

Rose McGowan

The thing with Time’s Up, it’s a great slogan. The point of it is great. I agree, time is up. You’re boring. Stop.

The problem I have is there are four CAA [Creative Artists Agency] agents behind it, okay? Who I have publicly accused of being human traffickers. Because they are. Because I know these people. I’m not from Enid, Oklahoma, and being like, “You’re a trafficker!”

You make money off negotiating how long a woman’s right breast can be seen. You send women to these rooms.

Ronan Farrow

I want to break down this critique because it’s two separate things. One is the money itself and how it’s going to be used.

Rose McGowan

Is there a dispersal person?

Ronan Farrow

I don’t know the answer to that. [Time’s Up is administered by the National Women’s Law Center.] Do you think it’s being used in the right way?

Rose McGowan

Not my business. Do what you want. But it’s not helping, I don’t know — I just sent one of Weinstein’s victims $1,500 so she could buy her children shoes. But guess what! That Time’s Up fund is going to farmworkers. That’s fine. Farmworkers need help. But how are those people at CAA going to find farmworkers? Have they thought about that? Do they know a lot of farmworkers?

Ronan Farrow

It is true that if they set up a legitimate philanthropic enterprise, there could be a structure by which farmworkers could bring claims.

Rose McGowan

So could you! We could all set up things to help farmworkers, as we should. CAA? Please. And all the other agencies too, by the way; they’re not different.

Ronan Farrow

So that brings me to the other half of this critique, which is — and Rose is not alone in this. There are other women who spoke out to me who have similar misgivings about this. It sounds to me like you see this as a smokescreen or cover for these guys on the board.

Rose McGowan

I don’t think it sounds like it. I think it is. Don’t forget, I live there. I am the curtain.

Ronan Farrow

And what would you have them do differently? Should those guys not be doing anything? Even if it’s a cover-your-ass move, should those guys not be starting a philanthropic movement?

Rose McGowan

No, they shouldn’t. They’re dirty people. They’re bad people. They’re bad humans.

And they put this stuff in your brain. They orchestrate things onscreen, they orchestrate who’s writing it, they orchestrate who’s directing it, they orchestrate who’s producing it, and they orchestrate who’s acting it. They orchestrate what’s going into your TV, your lives, your bedrooms. That’s who’s doing it, these people.

And I know them. One of them pushed me up against a wall and jammed his tongue down my throat. Could have put that in the book, but I didn’t. I could also say another time, one of them stuck his finger up my skirt in a photo and put his finger inside me. But I didn’t.

Ronan Farrow

Why aren’t you naming those names?

Rose McGowan

Because I’m about broader and bigger things. I’m about a construct. I don’t fuck with low-level shit; I’m bored with it.

The ever-present threat of Harvey Weinstein

Celebrity Guy Is Unveiled For Edenbridge Bonfire Night
Preparations to burn a Weinstein effigy at the Edenbridge Bonfire Society.
Carl Court/Getty Images

Ronan Farrow

I did report things which indicated that there were people coming after you, and that there was a well-funded machine set up to gaslight you.

Rose McGowan

And you. Everybody, not just me.

Ronan Farrow

But since this fall, we’re talking about territory that I have not published anything on, so I want to just be precise: You believe that Harvey Weinstein is, in an ongoing way, after you.

Rose McGowan

Yes.

Ronan Farrow

In what way?

Rose McGowan

I’m boxing in the dark, aren’t I? Someone was just offered $100,000 to say where my hotel room was.

Ronan Farrow

And you believe that this is emanating from …

Rose McGowan

Who else cares? Seriously, who else is going to stalk me this long?

Advice for women who want to tell their own stories

Rose McGowan

You’ll have to be stronger than you can ever imagine. And I’m so sorry that you have to be because it’s not fair. It’s not fair.

Your voice matters. And you have to understand that people will react badly. They will shame you. They will lie about you. They will do everything they can unless you are one of the lucky ones, and I really hope you are. I really hope you have a soft place to land.

I get a lot of messages. I was just talking to a woman who is getting raped every single day, and it’s just — I don’t know what to do! I don’t know what to do.

Ronan Farrow

For all the problems with our law enforcement, there are actually times when it should be reported to the authorities.

Rose McGowan

Absolutely. It’s just, the deck is so stacked against women or children, and with all the crimes being committed, it’s just so glaring and obvious. And that becomes hard.

What I can say is, it’s a journey, and that journey will leave you changed.

Why you should go around the system if it isn’t working for you

Rose McGowan and Ronan Farrow Maricela Magana/Michael Priest Photography

Ronan Farrow

I want to get to this one before we wrap, because this may be a woman who needs advice. She says, “How do you suggest women dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace handle this in a professional manner?”

Rose McGowan

Professional manner?

Ronan Farrow

“Is there a way to avoid it?” this person adds.

Rose McGowan

Avoid how to deal with it? Or avoid …

Ronan Farrow

It’s an interesting way to phrase the question, right? Like it’s incumbent on this individual to stop it.

Rose McGowan

This is where the complicity machine comes in, okay? Because I’m going to guarantee other people in that office or wherever. … Look, I’m sure we’ve all been in those places where it was like, “Ugh, if that person was not here, the ride would be so much better.”

Go around the system, is my thing. The system doesn’t work. The system didn’t work for me; it doesn’t seem to work for an awful lot of people.

And the system is not the laws; the system is ingrained thought. It’s the fact that all around us there are those bars that aren’t there. So if you submit that, you must find creative ways around this. You have to think, you have to plan.

And sometimes it takes 20 years. Sometimes you have to fight really hard. Sometimes you have to play a lot of chess to fix it.

Ronan Farrow

“What kind of punishment do you think is appropriate for a sexual predator like Weinstein?” says this individual.

Rose McGowan

Ha. See that’s the thing. I just want him to fall off the planet. It’s the others. It’s the machine around him. It’s Fabrizio Lombardo, who took Asia Argento to that room and told her it was a party, and that party was just a rapist. That’s what’s wrong.

What does it look like? I don’t know because I don’t know from justice. I don’t know. I can hope.

I hate that handcuffs have been on me and not on him. [McGowan has been arrested on drug charges, which she says were trumped up to silence her.] When they slapped those handcuffs on me, they were cold and heavy. I had a plan for my mug shot of looking tough. I was not in my body. When they did that, I did what I did when I was raped. I floated out of my body. And that photo …

Ronan Farrow

It’s a hard photo to look at.

Rose McGowan

I’m not there. I’m literally not there. And I knew … that was probably the expression in my eyes when it happened to me.

And from that, there must be some kind of justice, mustn’t there?

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