Ashley Judd is suing Harvey Weinstein for allegedly “blacklisting” her by spreading “false and malicious statements” that prevented her from winning acting jobs – including a major role in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
After filing a lawsuit in Los Angeles, the actress wrote on Twitter: “I am suing for economic remedy due to damage done to my career as a result of sexual harassment.” She promised to donate any compensation to the Time’s Up organisation.
The complaint specifically refers to recent reports that disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein dissuaded The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson and screenwriter Fran Walsh from casting Judd, as payback for rebuffing his sexual advances.
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Late last year, Jackson told New Zealand publication Stuff that when he proposed his plans for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to Miramax, the Weinstein brothers warned him that Judd and actress Mira Sorvino were difficult to work with.
“I recall Miramax telling us they were a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs… 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.”
Judd’s lawyers write: “What Ms Judd did not know until December 2017 was that something unseen was holding her back from obtaining the work she wanted, and had been doing so for decades. The headwind limiting her career was Harvey Weinstein.”
Referring to Jackson’s interview, the suit argues that “with [Weinstein’s] baseless smears, [he] succeeded in blacklisting Ms Judd and destroying her ability to work on what became a multibillion-dollar franchise with 17 Academy Award wins and many more nominations. He also effectively blocked Ms Judd from future opportunities to work with Mr Jackson and Ms Walsh.”
According to the suit, Jackson and Walsh had already met with Judd to discuss playing one of two major roles in the film trilogy, indicating that she could choose which role to play. But after this meeting, Weinstein “torpedoed” the casting with “baseless smears”.
Weinstein has previously denied having any input into the casting of Lord of the Rings “whatsoever”, with a spokesperson saying “there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.” He also denies all allegations of sexual assault.
Since the story broke in The New York Times in October 2017, over 60 women have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct, assault and rape, including many top Hollywood actresses.
Judd, whose credits include Missing and Divergent, said a business meeting with Weinstein at his hotel room two decades ago led to a situation where she had to repeatedly fend off his advances, his attempts to get her to give him a massage, and his requests that she watch him shower.
“No person – in whatever job, in whatever industry – should have to forfeit professional aspirations and the right to earn a living to the abusive whims of the powerful,” the lawsuit reads. “Ms Judd brings this complaint to vindicate that principle, and to right the wrongs that Weinstein committed against her, among so many others.”