By David Canfield
October 27, 2017 at 03:43 PM EDT

Robert Rodriguez casting Rose McGowan in the film Grindhouse was meant to spite Harvey Weinstein, the filmmaker revealed to Variety on Friday.

Rodriguez, who dated McGowan from 2006 to 2009, reportedly knew of Weinstein allegedly sexually assaulting the actress. He said he was “inspired” to cast McGowan as a “bad ass” in the film, part of a double-feature co-helmed by Quentin Tarantino and distributed by Bob Weinstein’s Dimension Films. The director claims this is one reason Weinstein ultimately “buried” the release.

In a statement to Variety, Rodriguez recounted how McGowan told him of her alleged experience with Weinstein and what he tried to do about it.

“My first reaction was one of shock. I recall clearly what I said next, ‘My God, why didn’t you say anything? People would have stood up for you! And where was your fiancé during all this? I would have at least beaten the crap out of Harvey if I had heard that,'” Rodriguez said of when McGowan told him her claim that Weinstein sexually assaulted her. “Rose said they didn’t know what to do. She confided that a female attorney had told her that because she had done nudity in movies that no jury would believe her and that it would turn into a he said/she said case.”

Rodriguez says he made clear to McGowan that she’d never be blacklisted from his movies, and that he “wanted her to have a starring role in a big movie to take her OFF the blacklist, and the best part is that we would have Harvey’s new Weinstein Company pay for the whole damn thing.” He later adds that the scheme would “literally make [Weinstein] pay.”

He then recalled the first joint encounter between himself, McGowan, and Weinstein. “I called Harvey over to our table, and as soon as he got close enough to see that I was sitting with Rose, his face dropped and went ghostly white,” Rodriguez said. “I said, ‘Hey Harvey, this is Rose McGowan. I think she’s amazing and really talented and I’m going to cast her in my next movie.’ Harvey then dribbled all over himself in the most over the top performance I’d ever seen as he gushed, ‘Oh she’s wonderful, oh she’s amazing, oh she’s fantastic, oh she’s so talented… You two should definitely work together.’ And then he skittered off. I knew right then that every word Rose told me was true, you could see it all over his face.”

McGowan was reported to have reached a $100,000 settlement with Weinstein after an undisclosed hotel room encounter between them during the1997 Sundance Film Festival. After the information was made public, McGowan alleged on Twitter that “HW raped me.” She is among the more than 50 women to allege sexual misconduct by Weinstein. (Weinstein has denied any allegation of non-consensual sex.)

Reps for McGowan and Weinstein did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday.

Rodriguez says that he had kept quiet until now out of respect for McGowan’s wishes and the NDA she signed at Weinstein’s behest, and adds that this was equally true during the making of Grindhouse. Nonetheless, Rodriguez claims, Weinstein sought to sabotage the film. “To our horror, Harvey buried our movie anyway, and because we did not want to risk getting sued, we never spoke publicly about the matter,” he explains. “It would have been much easier on both of us if we could have just revealed why we were doing it.”

Grindhouse was a box office failure despite strong reviews, netting less than half of what was projected on its opening weekend.

Rodriguez concludes the statement by expressing support for McGowan and the other women coming forward. “Once someone like Harvey Weinstein strikes, the waves, ripple effects, and the collateral damage that takes place are far-reaching, unstoppable, and unending,” he says. “Once a predator strikes, it’s simply too late. We have to stop these actions from happening to begin with through education, harsher consequences, and zero tolerance. We must ensure that justice is served and demand cultural change in our country so that this never happens again.”