In an interview with the New Zealand website Stuff, director Peter Jackson said that in the process of pitching his Lord of the Rings series in the late 1990s, Harvey Weinstein told him to not work with Mira Sorvino or Ashley Judd, two women we now know were sexually harassed by the producer.
“I recall Miramax telling us they were a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs,” Jackson told the site, estimating that it happened in 1998. He says that at the time he had “no reason” to question this information but now believes it was most likely a Miramax “smear campaign in full swing.”
“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,” Jackson said.
“Just seeing this after I awoke, I burst out crying,” Sorvino tweeted after reading the article. “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.” Ashley Judd also tweeted “I remember this well.”
In a statement about the story Weinstein wrote:
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.
Secondly, until Ashley Judd wrote a piece for Variety two years ago, no one at the Company knew that she had a complaint and she was cast in two other films by Mr. Weinstein [“Frida” and “Crossing Over”] and Mira Sorvino was always considered for other films as well.
There was no indication that Mira Sorvino had any issues until Mr. Weinstein read about the complaints in the news.
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.
Jackson also says that both Harvey and Bob Weinstein were difficult to work with, describing them as “second-rate Mafia bullies.” Weinstein threatened to fire Jackson from the Lord of the Rings adaptation if he didn’t make the initially two-part movie into one. After giving Jackson and his wife Fran Walsh four weeks to find a studio that would make the two-part movie, the project was moved to New Line who actually extended it to three films.
But it’s Weinstein’s deliberate attempt to derail Sorvino’s and Judd’s careers that is sickening. Because as each new actress comes forward with a story about Weinstein harassing and assaulting them, I keep asking myself questions about what movies they could have made, what might have been, had Weinstein not gone out of his way to make their lives hell.