Peter Jackson gave an interview to the New Zealand publication Stuff in which he recounted being told by Harvey and Bob Weinstein’s Miramax in the 1990s that Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino were “a nightmare.”
Saying he had “no direct experience or knowledge of the sexual allegations” against Harvey Weinstein, which were made public and led to the Hollywood mogul’s downfall earlier this year, Jackson did tell Stuff he crossed paths with the Weinsteins-backed company Miramax in the ’90s, when he was pitching The Lord of the Rings, and that he was given some unusual advice.
“I recall Miramax telling us they were a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs. This was probably in 1998,” Jackson said. “At the time, we had no reason to question what these guys were telling us — but in hindsight, I realize 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 — and as a direct result their names were removed from our casting list.”
Ashley Judd alleged Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed her in the ’90s, when, she claimed, he invited her to his hotel room and greeted her in a bathrobe, asking for a massage and to take a shower with him. “I said no, a lot of ways, a lot of times, and he always came back at me with some new ask,” Judd said to The New York Times. “It was all this bargaining, this coercive bargaining.” Sorvino, meanwhile, told The New Yorker‘s Ronan Farrow that Harvey Weinstein behaved inappropriately with her around the same time. “He started massaging my shoulders, which made me very uncomfortable, and then tried to get more physical, sort of chasing me around,” Sorvino claimed of an incident in a Toronto hotel room around the release of Mighty Aphrodite in 1995.
They are among the dozens of women to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. Harvey Weinstein has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex — as well as claims that he retaliated against women who rebuffed him. “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein,” his representatives said in a statement released in October. “Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances. Mr. Weinstein obviously can’t speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr. Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual. Mr. Weinstein has begun counseling, has listened to the community and is pursuing a better path. Mr. Weinstein is hoping that, if he makes enough progress, he will be given a second chance.”
In a statement provided to EW about Jackson’s claim, representatives for Harvey Weinstein 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.
“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 contract to pursue the opportunity.”
On Friday, Judd and Sorvino reacted to Jackson’s comments. “Just seeing this after I awoke, I burst out crying,” Sorvino tweeted. “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, tweeting out a link to the Stuff story featuring Jackson’s comments, said simply, “I remember this well.”
Judd later added, “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.”
Jackson also made comments about how difficult Harvey Weinstein was to work with. It previously became public knowledge that Weinstein threatened to derail the Lord of the Rings franchise if Jackson didn’t turn his pitch into a single film. He added, speaking to Stuff, that he had no interest in working with Weinstein and his brother. “My experience, when Miramax controlled the Lord of the Rings … was of Weinstein and his brother behaving like second-rate Mafia bullies,” Jackson said.” They weren’t the type of guys I wanted to work with — so I haven’t.”