Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson has claimed he dropped actresses Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino from the casting list of the blockbuster franchise because Harvey Weinstein said they were ‘a nightmare to work with.’
Weinstein has denied the claims, insisting he had “no input into the casting whatsoever,” but Jackson alleges that the movie mogul launched a ‘smear campaign’ against the women – who have both since accused Weinstein of sexual harrassment.
“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,” Jackson told Stuff on December 14.
“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.”
“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,” he added.
After seeing the story, Ashley Judd spoke out, revealing that she was offered her choice of roles in the franchise but then all communication suddenly stopped.
“Peter & Fran had me in – showed me all the creative, the boards, costumes, everything,” she said.
“They asked which if the two roles I preferred, and then I abruptly never heard from hem again. I appreciate the truth coming out. Thank you, Peter. (sic)”
And Sorvino also tweeted, “Just seeing this after I awoke, 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.”
However, Weinstein released a statement refuting the claims.
“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,” his rep said.
“While Bob and Harvey Weinstein were executive producers of the film they had no input into the casting whatsoever.”
The statement continued: “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.
“There was no indication that Mira Sorvino had any issues until Mr Weinstein read about the complaints in the news.
“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 peruse the opportunity.”
Mirror Online has contacted Weinstein and Miramax for comment.