Ever since the New York Times broke the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal, rumours have been rife that Weinstein also abused his power by putting roadblocks in the careers of actresses who refused his sexual advances.
Now, Peter Jackson is coming forward to allege that he experienced exactly that, recalling that Harvey and Bob Weinstein discouraged him from hiring actresses Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd, both of whom have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexually harassing them.
In an interview with Stuff, Jackson (director of such blockbusters as King Kong and the Lord of the Rings trilogy) stated that while he had “no direct experience or knowledge of the sexual allegations” that have been made against Weinstein, his experience working with the brothers led him to decide to never do so again.
As Jackson told Stuff, he met with the Weinsteins in the late 1990s when he was pitching his initial plans for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films to Miramax, which was still controlled by the brothers prior to the studio’s sale to Disney. According to Jackson, he was specifically warned to stay away from Judd and Sorvino when casting.
“I recall Miramax telling us they were a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs. This was probably in 1998,” said Jackson.
“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 added.
“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,” declared Jackson.
However, it was the Weinsteins’ behaviour in general that led Jackson to avoid them in all his future projects. “My experience, when Miramax controlled the Lord of the Rings (before New Line took over production of the film), was of Weinstein and his brother behaving like second-rate Mafia bullies. They weren’t the type of guys I wanted to work with — so I haven’t,” he noted.
Both Judd and Sorvino are speaking out about Jackson’s claims, with Sorvino issuing a tweet admitting that she “burst out crying” to see Jackson confirming her longtime suspicions “that Harvey Weinstein derailed my career.”
Judd also responded via Twitter, remarking, “I remember this well.”
Meanwhile, a rep for Harvey Weinstein has also responded to Jackson’s allegations, issuing a statement denying Jackson’s statements, as well as denying that Weinstein had ever put either actress on a “blacklist.”
“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,” reads a statement from a spokesperson for Weinstein.
“While Bob and Harvey Weinstein were executive producers of the film they had no input into the casting whatsoever,”the statement continues.
“Secondly, 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 adds.
“There was no indication that Mira Sorvino had any issues until Mr. Weinstein read about the complaints in the news,” the statement concludes. “As recently as this year, Mira Sorvino called Mr. Weinstein and asked if her husband could be part of the SEAL television series he was producing and Mr. Weinstein cast him; when Christopher Backus received a better offer, Mr. Weinstein allowed him to amicably break his contact to pursue the opportunity.”
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