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Peter Jackson says Weinsteins blacklisted Ashley Judd, Mira Sorvino; Harvey Weinstein disagrees

Filmmaker Peter Jackson. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Filmmaker Peter Jackson. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

After director Peter Jackson publicized his suspicion that actresses Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino were blacklisted by Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced producer has denied the “Lord of the Rings” filmmaker’s accusations.

According to Jackson, the actresses had been chosen to star in his “Lord of the Rings” franchise when it was still under the umbrella of Weinstein’s Miramax studio, but contended that Weinstein intervened in the late 1990s.

“I recall Miramax telling us they were a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs,” Jackson told New Zealand’s Stuff on Thursday.

“At the time, we had no reason to question what these guys were telling us — but in hindsight, I realize that this was very likely the Miramax smear campaign in full swing,” he said. "I now suspect we were fed false information about both of these talented women — and as a direct result their names were removed from our casting list.”

"I remember this well,” Judd tweeted Thursday night in response to Jackson’s interview.

“Just seeing this after I awoke, I burst out crying,” Sorvino tweeted on Friday. “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.”

In a statement issued by his spokesperson on Friday, Weinstein rebutted Jackson’s account, explaining how Miramax lost the project to New Line Cinema, and refuted the notion that Judd and Sorvino were blacklisted.

“Mr. Weinstein has nothing but the utmost respect for Peter Jackson. However, as Mr. Jackson will probably remember, because [Miramax parent company] Disney would not finance the ‘Lord of the Rings,’ Miramax lost the project and all casting was done by New Line,” the statement said.

“While Bob and Harvey Weinstein were executive producers of the film they had no input into the casting whatsoever,” it continued.

“Until Ashley Judd wrote a piece for Variety two years ago, no one at the Company knew that she had a complaint and she was cast in two other films by Mr. Weinstein [‘Frida’ and ‘Crossing Over’] and Mira Sorvino was always considered for other films as well,” the statement said. “There was no indication that Mira Sorvino had any issues until Mr. Weinstein read about the complaints in the news.”

“Just seeing this after I awoke, I burst out crying,” Mira Sorvino tweeted Friday in response to Peter Jackson's comments. (Chris Pizzello / Invision)
“Just seeing this after I awoke, I burst out crying,” Mira Sorvino tweeted Friday in response to Peter Jackson's comments. (Chris Pizzello / Invision)

The statement also said that as recently as this year, Sorvino called Weinstein to ask if her husband, Christopher Backus, could be part of the “SEAL” television series he was producing. Weinstein said he cast him but allowed Backus “to amicably break his contact” to pursue a different opportunity.

Judd was among the first women to publicly accuse Weinstein of harassment this year, detailing encounters with the mogul and rebuffing his alleged advances in the New York Times story that broke the scandal wide open in October. Sorvino was also among the scores of accusers who detailed Weinstein’s alleged misconduct in the avalanche of accounts that followed.

Three-time Oscar winner Jackson, who described Weinstein and his brother, Bob Weinstein, as “behaving like second-rate Mafia bullies,” also said he feuded with the studio about the number of films in the franchise and has chosen not to work with the brothers since.

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