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Peter Jackson admits blacklisting Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino after ‘smear campaign’ by Harvey Weinstein

Director says he was told to avoid casting two actresses in Lord of the Rings because they were difficult to work with. Several of Weinstein’s accusers claim their careers were ruined after they refused his advances

Roisin O'Connor
Saturday 16 December 2017 11:18
Peter Jackson says he was told Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd were 'difficult to work with'
Peter Jackson says he was told Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd were 'difficult to work with'

Peter Jackson has admitted he blacklisted actresses Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino after a "smear campaign" orchestrated by Harvey Weinstein.

Weinstein has been at the centre of a criminal investigation by police in New York, Los Angeles and London after more than 50 women - including Judd and Sorvino - came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct, assault and rape. Weinstein unequivocally denies any allegations of non-consensual sex.

Jackson, who directed the successful Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films, spoke out after several of Weinstein's accusers said they believed their careers had been derailed after refusing Weinstein's advances.

Harvey Weinstein: The celebrities who have accused him of sexual misconduct so far

“I recall Miramax telling us they were a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs,” Jackson told Stuff Entertainment in New Zealand, referencing the production company Weinstein ran with his brother Bob.

He said both women were removed from the Lord of the Rings casting list as a direct result of the smear.

"At the time, we had no reason to question what these guys were telling us," he said. "But in hindsight, I realise that this was very likely the Miramax smear campaign in full swing. I now suspect we were fed false information about both of these talented women."

Jackson's revelation is the latest insight into how Weinstein allegedly used informants, gossip and threats to protect himself against sexual assault claims, and punish those who defied him.​

His comments were backed by Bad Santa director Terry Zwigoff who claims the Weinsteins hung up on him after hearing he was planning on casting Sorvino.

In response to Jackson's comments, Sorvino wrote: “I burst out crying. There it is, confirmation that Harvey Weinstein derailed my career, something I suspected but was unsure. Thank you Peter Jackson for being honest. I’m just heartsick.”

Judd wrote: “I remember this well,” later adding: “Peter & Fran had me in – showed me all the creative, the boards, costumes, everything. They asked which if the two roles I preferred, and then I abruptly never heard from them again. I appreciate the truth coming out. Thank you, Peter."

Jackson denied having any knowledge about the sexual assault allegations against Weinstein.

He said he has not worked with the Weinstein brothers in 20 years because they acted like “second-rate Mafia bullies”.

A spokesperson for Harvey Weinstein denied he and his brother, who were credited as executive producers on the series, had any input on casting choices.

“Mr Weinstein has nothing but the utmost respect for Peter Jackson. However, as Mr Jackson will probably remember, because Disney would not finance the Lord of the Rings, Miramax lost the project and all casting was done by New Line,” the spokesperson said in an email.

The spokesperson said Weinstein cast Judd for other films after Weinstein’s harassment was alleged to have occurred and “Sorvino was always considered for other films as well”.

In response to Weinstein's denial, Jackson wrote a rebuke in Deadline and said it was a "deflection from the truth".

Weinstein is alleged to have told multiple women he could either "make" their careers or destroy them depending on how they responded to his sexual advances.

One actor, Annabella Sciorra, accused Weinstein of violently raping her and said she believed he had ruined her reputation.

Matt Damon admits he knew Harvey Weinstein harassed Gwyneth Paltrow

“From 1992, I didn’t work again until 1995,” she told the New Yorker. “I just kept getting this pushback of: 'We heard you were difficult; we heard this or that.' I think that that was the Harvey machine."

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