Peter Jackson said that Harvey and Bob Weinstein blacklisted Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino from appearing in the Lord of the Rings film series.
Both Weinstein brothers have faced allegations of sexual misconduct, but Harvey in particular has come to represent the prevalence of sexism in Hollywood due to the sheer quantity of allegations made against him. Judd and Sorvino were among those who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual violence in October, initiating an outpouring of allegations against the film producer. But now, Jackson has confirmed suspicions that their rejections of Weinstein's advances impacted their careers.
Variety reports that, according to Jackson, when he was working on The Lord of the Rings in the late 1990s, Miramax dissuaded him from casting Judd and Sorvino. At the time, Miramax — the production company handling the film — was run by the Weinsteins. And today, Jackson explained that he believes Miramax misled him about Judd and Sorvino. “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.”
The Lord of the Rings eventually ended up with New Line Cinema, another production company, and the Weinsteins were not involved in its production. Jackson claims to have had no knowledge about sexual allegations against Harvey Weinstein during his time working with the producer.
Since Jackson shared his story, both Judd and Sorvino have tweeted responses thanking him for his honesty.
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 https://t.co/ljK9NqICbm— Mira Sorvino (@MiraSorvino) December 15, 2017
Peter & Fran had me in - showed me all the creative, the boards, costumes, everything. 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. https://t.co/iXKuK6Xqtx— ashley judd (@AshleyJudd) December 15, 2017
Harvey Weinstein has denied Jackson's claims through a spokesperson. “While Bob and Harvey Weinstein were executive producers of the film, they had no input into the casting whatsoever,” the spokesperson said as part of a longer statement.
The blacklisting of Judd and Sorvino makes undeniable the fact that, in addition to tremendous emotional, psychological, and physical effects, sexual violence can have profound implications on the careers of women in Hollywood. Jackson's claims also reveal the degree to which those in the film industry are in thrall to big-money forces, like production companies. The possibility that Judd, as she says in her tweet, was on the verge of being cast in The Lord of the Rings — only to be turned away because of a smear campaign by Miramax, according to Jackson — puts Hollywood's warped power dynamics on full display. And with Salma Hayek recently sharing how Weinstein's behavior influenced her artistic project in Frida, the industry has a lot to consider. There are fundamental, rampant inequalities in Hollywood and elsewhere, and a reckoning is long overdue.