Peter Jackson has revealed that he dropped Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino from the trilogy The Lord of the Rings after Harvey Weinstein and his brother, Bob, claimed that the actresses were “a nightmare to work with” and “we should avoid them at all costs”.
The revelation that the Weinstein brothers put into place a smear campaign against Judd and Sorvino backs up their statements that they had been sexually harassed by Harvey Weinstein, and had missed out on Jackson’s trilogy because of the Weinstein brothers.
Jackson told the New Zealand website Stuff on Friday that while he had “no direct experience or knowledge of the sexual allegations” against Weinstein, he had made a decision to never work with him again. Jackson had approached Miramax studio, which was headed by the Weinstein brothers, in 1998 with the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. “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 told Stuff. “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… 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.”
Jackson initially wanted to make a two-part adaptation of the JRR Tolkien books. He finally took his project to New Line Studio, which spread the adaptations across a trilogy that went on to become one of the high-grossing franchises of all time.
“Movie making is much more fun when you work with nice people,” Jackson told Stuff.
Judd put out a cryptic tweet in response to the story, while Sorvino thanked Jackson for confirming her suspicion that Weinstein had actively worked towards derailing her career. The actresses are among 90 women who have publicly accused Weinstein of rape and sexual harassment that went unreported and unchecked for decades. Salma Hayek has spoken up too against the powerful producer. In an essay in the New York Times, Hayek wrote about dealing with repeated advances by Weinstein during the the filming of her 2002 biopic on Frida Kahlo. Hayek’s refusal to those advances would be met with Weinstein’s “Machiavellian rage,” she wrote, and at one time, he allegedly threatened her with death, saying, “I will kill you, don’t think I can’t.
Weinstein has disputed Jackson’s claims. In a statement, the disgraced producer said, “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. While Bob and Harvey Weinstein were executive producers of the film they had no input into the casting whatsoever.”
Weinstein added, “As recently as this year, Mira Sorvino called Mr. Weinstein and asked if her husband could be part of the SEAL television series [Six] 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.”