The Double Jeopardy actress, 50, announced Monday that she was taking legal action against disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein, alleging that he ruined her career by spreading “false and malicious statements” regarding her “professionalism as an actor.” Judd’s fellow Time’s Up advocates had nothing but encouragement.
“Go forth @AshleyJudd,” Witherspoon, 42, said on Twitter. “I am the wind at your back.”
Judd also received backing from Amber Tamblyn, Rose McGowan and more.
“You are a damn national treasure. Thank you,” wrote Tamblyn. “I’m here for you.”
McGowan added, “Proud of you .@AshleyJudd My We, the public, lost out on the unique artist that is you.”
A complaint filed in Los Angeles on Monday refers to recent reports that Weinstein succeeded in dissuading director Peter Jackson and screenwriter Fran Walsh from casting Judd in their Lord of the Rings movies after she says she rebuffed his sexual advances.
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Jackson said earlier this year that when he pitched his initial plans for both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings to Miramax, the Weinstein brothers warned him that actress Mira Sorvino and 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 told New Zealand publication Stuff. “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.”
He added, “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.”
Citing Jackson’s admission that Weinstein’s warning influenced his casting decision, the complaint 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.”
“I lost career opportunity. I lost money. I lost status and prestige and power in my career as a direct result of having been sexually harassed and rebuffing the sexual harassment,” Judd told ABC News about the lawsuit.
She added, “My career opportunities, after having been defamed by Harvey Weinstein, were significantly diminished.”
Judd hopes her legal action will contribute to “safe and equal workplaces,” especially for women, she told ABC.
In response to Judd’s new complaint, a representative for Weinstein said, “The most basic investigation of the facts will reveal that Mr. Weinstein neither defamed Ms. Judd nor ever interfered with Ms. Judd’s career, and instead not only championed her work but also repeatedly approved her casting for two of his movies over the next decade. The actual facts will show that Mr. Weinstein was widely known for having fought for Ms. Judd as his first choice for the lead role in Good Will Hunting and, in fact, arranged for Ms. Judd to fly to New York to be considered for the role. Thereafter, Ms. Judd was hired for not one, but two of Mr. Weinstein’s movies, Frida in 2002 and Crossing Over with Harrison Ford in 2009. We look forward to a vigorous defense of these claims.”
Over 60 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.”