Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd are speaking out against Harvey Weinstein, following director Peter Jackson’s claim that the producer and his brother Bob Weinstein attempted to prevent the two women from starring in his Lord of the Rings franchise.
Speaking with New Zealand publication Stuff, Jackson said that when he pitched his initial plans for both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings to Miramax, the Weinstein brothers — whom he described as “second-rate Mafia bullies” — warned him that Sorvino and Ashley Judd 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. 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,” he said.
Jackson also added that “Although [Weinstein’s] name had to be on the Lord of the Rings credits for contractual reasons, he was not involved in the movies we ended up making.” Jackson ultimately worked with NewLine to develop the blockbuster franchise.
In response to Jackson’s claims, Sorvino wrote on social media that she was “heartsick” over the news.
“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,” she added.
Judd also responded to the allegation saying, “I remember this well.”
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A spokesperson for Weinstein said in a statement to PEOPLE that “while Bob and Harvey Weinstein were executive producers of the film [Lord of the Rings] they had no input into the casting whatsoever.” It went on to add that “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.”
Over 50 women have accused Weinstein, 65, of sexual misconduct since The New York Times and The New Yorker documented decades of alleged sexual misconduct and sexual assault involving a number of women in detailed articles in October.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Weinstein’s attorneys, Blair Berk and Benjamin Brafman, previously said: “Mr. Weinstein has never at any time committed an act of sexual assault, and it is wrong and irresponsible to conflate claims of impolitic behavior or consensual sexual contact later regretted, with an untrue claim of criminal conduct. There is a wide canyon between mere allegation and truth, and we are confident that any sober calculation of the facts will prove no legal wrongdoing occurred.
“Nonetheless, to those offended by Mr. Weinstein’s behavior, he remains deeply apologetic.”