Actors Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino were two of the most famous women to come forward with allegations of sexual harassment against producer Harvey Weinstein in the New Yorker and New York Times reports in October that spurred a flood of other allegations against powerful men.
Peter Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, on Thursday revealed he had not cast Sorvino and Judd in his films on the advice of Weinstein and his brother Bob, who he called "second-rate Mafia bullies."
Sorvino said Friday she burst into tears when she read Jackson's interview, finding "confirmation that Harvey Weinstein derailed my career."
Judd also responded on Twitter, recounting how she'd met with Jackson and his producer wife, Fran Walsh, and how they had asked her which of two roles she was most interested in taking — but then they suddenly cut off all contact with her.
The Lord of the Rings is one of the most successful movie franchises of all times, winning 17 Oscars and earning over $5 billion from all the films combined.
In a statement, Weinstein’s spokesperson said Harvey and his brother Bob “had no input into the casting whatsoever” in The Lord of the Rings.
Late Friday, Jackson rebuffed Weinstein's claims about he and his brother having no control over the casting, calling Weinstein's comments "a deflection of the truth" in a lengthy statement released to Deadline.
Jackson explained that in the 18 months the film was being developed with Miramax, there were many conversations over casting possibilities:
Amongst the many names raised, Fran and I expressed our enthusiasm for Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino. In fact we met with Ashley and discussed two possible roles with her. After this meeting we were told by Miramax to steer clear of both Ashley and Mira, because they claimed to have had 'bad experiences' with these particular actresses in the past.
Fran Walsh was in the same meeting, and remembers these negative comments about Ashley and Mira as clearly as I do. We have no reason to make it up.
This type of comment is not unusual – it can happen with any studio on any film, when different actor’s names come up in conversation – but once you hear negative feedback about somebody, you don’t forget it.
... The movies changed hands from Miramax to New Line before casting actually got underway – but because we had been warned off Ashley and Mira by Miramax, and we were naive enough to assume we’d been told the truth, Fran and I did not raise their names in New Line casting conversations.
... If we were unwitting accomplices in harming their careers, Fran and I unreservedly apologise to both Ashley and Mira.
Jackson's statement prompted another director to say that he too had been pushed not to cast Sorvino in a film. Terry Zwigoff wrote on Twitter that he'd wanted to put Sorvino in his film, Bad Santa, but had been turned off her by Weinstein.
Bad Santa, released in 2003 and starring Billy Bob Thornton, earned a Golden Globe nomination and over $75 million.
Amber Jamieson is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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