Director says Weinstein told him not to cast Judd and Sorvino

Peter Jackson says Miramax told him not to cast duo in Lord of the Rings series

Harvey Weinstein: director Peter Jackson says producer acted like a “second-rate mafia bully”. Photograph: Yann Coatsaliou/AFP/Getty Images

Harvey Weinstein: director Peter Jackson says producer acted like a “second-rate mafia bully”. Photograph: Yann Coatsaliou/AFP/Getty Images

 

Film director Peter Jackson has admitted to blacklisting actors Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino in response to a “smear campaign” orchestrated by Harvey Weinstein.

“I recall Miramax telling us they were a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs,” Jackson said, referencing the production company Weinstein ran with his brother, Bob. As a direct result, he said, both women fell out of the running for parts in his Lord of the Rings series.

“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. I now suspect we were fed false information about both of these talented women.”

His admission in an interview offers the latest glimpse into the Weinstein machine: the Byzantine network of alleged enablers and informants, and the gossip and threats Weinstein is accused of using to protect himself against sexual assault claims and punish those who rejected his advances.

Sorvino and Judd have both claimed they refused Weinstein’s pressure to have physical relationships, and Sorvino has said she felt “iced out” of the industry after rejecting his advances.

On seeing Jackson’s interview, Sorvino tweeted on Friday: “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.”

Judd said, “I remember this well.”

Second-rate mafia bullies

Jackson denied knowing about sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein and said he has long since ceased to work with the Weinstein brothers because they acted like “second-rate mafia bullies”.

Although Jackson was, in the early 1990s, developing the Lord of the Rings series for Miramax, production eventually moved to New Line Cinema.

A spokesperson for Harvey Weinstein denied he and his brother, who were credited as executive producers on the series, had any input on casting choices.

“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,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

The spokesperson said Weinstein cast Judd for other films after Weinstein’s harassment was alleged to have occurred and “Sorvino was always considered for other films as well”.

Earlier this year, the spokesperson claimed, Sorvino asked Weinstein to cast her husband, Christopher Backus, in a television series.

Weinstein is alleged to have told multiple women he could enhance their careers or ruin them depending on how they responded to his sexual advances.

Meanwhile, the New York police department has announced it was opening an investigation into Russell Simmons, the rap mogul and founder of Def Jam Recordings, after multiple women accused the powerful music producer of rape and sexual assault. – Guardian