Peter Jackson says Weinstein made him blacklist Ashley Judd & Mira Sorvino

Once upon a time, Peter Jackson pitched his ambitious THE LORD OF THE RINGS project to Miramax, which at the time consisted of two movies instead of three. The project was in development at Miramax for over a year, during which many casting conversations took place. It was during this time when Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh expressed their enthusiasm for Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino, but Jackson told Stuff that Harvey Weinstein warned them away from casting either of the actresses, saying that they were "a nightmare to work with" and that Jackson should "avoid them at all costs."

If you recall, both Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino have gone public with their claims that Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed them, as well as their suspicions that Weinstein had derailed their careers. "At the time, we had no reason to question what these guys were telling us - but in hindsight, I realise that this was very likely the Miramax smear campaign in full swing," Jackson 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." In fact, both Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh met with Ashley Judd to discuss two possible roles with her, which is something Judd remembers.

Mira Sorvino also tweeted her response to the news, saying "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." Harvey Weinstein has since denied the allegations that he black-listed Ashley Judd or Mira Sorvino, but Peter Jackson issued a rebuttal in response to what he calls Weinstein's "insincere" denial. Here is Jackson's full response:

Aspects of Harvey’s denial are insincere. He is basically saying that “this blacklisting couldn’t be true because New Line cast the movie”. That’s a deflection from the truth.

In the 18 months we developed the Lord of the Rings at Miramax, we had many casting conversations with Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein and their executives.

During this period, no offers were made to actors because that occurs after a film is greenlit, and Miramax never greenlit these films.

However, many conversations occurred internally regarding potential casting. Fran Walsh and I recall that Morgan Freeman, Paul Scofield, David Bowie, Liam Neeson, Natascha McElhone, Claire Forlani, Francesca Annis, Max von Sydow, and Daniel Day Lewis were some of the names discussed with Miramax for possible roles in The Lord of the Rings movies.

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.

We were not in a position to offer Ashley or Mira a role in the movies, but we attempted to have their names added to a list, for when casting began. Each role can have many actors names listed for future auditions and meetings.

In these film maker/studio relationships, there has to be consensus in casting choices – either side can generally veto suggested names for various reasons, and in pre-Lord of the Rings days, we didn’t have the power to override the studio on casting choices.

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.

Nearly 20 years later, we read about the sexual misconduct allegations being made against Harvey Weinstein and we saw comments by both Mira and Ashley, who felt they had been blacklisted by Miramax after rejecting Harvey’s sexual advances.

Fran and I immediately remembered Miramax’s negative reaction when we put their names forward, and we wondered if we had unwittingly been part of the alleged damage to their careers, at the hands of Miramax.

We have no direct evidence linking Ashley and Mira’s allegations to our Lord of the Rings casting conversations of 20 years ago – but we stand by what we were told by Miramax when we raised both of their names, and we are recounting it accurately.

If we were unwitting accomplices in harming their careers, Fran and I unreservedly apologise to both Ashley and Mira.

Because of Harvey Weinstein's behavior while THE LORD OF THE RINGS was being developed at Miramax, Jackson likened both Harvey and his brother to "second-rate Mafia bullies," the director made the choice not to work with them again. "They weren't the type of guys I wanted to work with - so I haven't," Jackson said. "Although his name had to be on the Lord of the Rings credits for contractual reasons, he was not involved in the movies we ended up making."

Source: StuffDeadline



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