"What I did was marginalize the incidents," the director recalls. "Anything I say now will sound like a crappy excuse."
Quentin Tarantino -- a longtime friend and collaborator of Harvey Weinstein's -- revealed Thursday he knew for decades about about the producer's sexual misconduct despite saying last week that he was "stunned and heartbroken about the revelations."
Tarantino told The New York Times he feels ashamed for not having spoken up sooner and regrets having continued to work with Weinstein despite having firsthand knowledge of the mogul's inappropriate behavior toward women.
"I knew enough to do more than I did," Tarantino admitted. "There was more to it than just the normal rumors, the normal gossip. It wasn't secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things."
"I wish I had taken responsibility for what I heard," he added. "If I had done the work I should have done then, I would have had to not work with him."
Tarantino said his own former girlfriend, Mira Sorvino, told him about unwanted advances and touching by Weinstein, including massaging her without asking, chasing her around a hotel room and showing up at her apartment in the middle of the night, a story Sorvino recently shared with The New Yorker.
"I was shocked and appalled," Tarantino said of the alleged harassment toward his then-girlfriend. "I couldn't believe he would do that so openly. I was like: 'Really? Really?' But the thing I thought then, at the time, was that he was particularly hung up on Mira.' She had won accolades for her performance in 'Mighty Aphrodite,' and 'I thought Harvey was hung up on her in this Svengali kind of way. Because he was infatuated with her, he horribly crossed the line."
Tarantin said his attitude was, "I'm with her, he knows that, he won't mess with her, he knows that she's my girlfriend."
Tarantino said he continued to hear of incidents involving Weinstein and other women and knew of the settlement the producer had reached with actress Rose McGowan after an episode during the Sundance Film Festival. He said he didn't think it was part of a larger issue.
"What I did was marginalize the incidents," Tarantino said. "Anything I say now will sound like a crappy excuse."
"I chalked it up to a '50s-'60s era image of a boss chasing a secretary around the desk," he continued. "As if that's O.K. That's the egg on my face right now."
Tarantino said it was nearly "impossible" for people who have worked closely with Weinstein to not have heard the rumors and admitted that Hollywood has been "operating under an almost Jim Crow-like system that us males have almost tolerated."
"We allowed it to exist because that's the way it was," he said.
"I'm calling on the other guys who knew more to not be scared. Don't just give out statements," Tarantino said in a call to action. "Acknowledge that there was something rotten in Denmark. Vow to do better by our sisters. What was previously accepted is now untenable to anyone of a certain consciousness."
Weinstein and Tarantino have collaborated on some of the most iconic films of all time, including "Reservoir Dogs," "Pulp Fiction," the "Kill Bill" films, "Inglorious Bastards" and "The Hateful Eight." Weinstein even threw the director an engagement party a few weeks ago.
When asked how the allegations surrounding Weinstein would affect how the public views the producer's films, Tarantino replied, "I don't know. I hope it doesn't."
"Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein," a spokesperson for the mogul previously said. "Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances."