Harvey Weinstein has denied trying to derail the careers of Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd after director Peter Jackson claimed the disgraced producer attempted to prevent the two women from starring in his Lord of the Rings franchise.
In a statement issued on Saturday to PEOPLE, a spokesperson for Weinstein renounced the accusations against Weinstein and his brother, Bob.
“As Peter Jackson explained in his own statement, Bob and Harvey Weinstein had nothing to do with Lord of the Rings,” the spokesperson said. “If Ashley Judd said she was in conversations with Mr. Jackson and reviewed sketches, it was under New Line, which had casting authority, not Miramax. Miramax never provided sketches to anyone.”
The spokesperson continued that Weinstein cast Judd in 2002’s Frida and years later in Crossing Over. They also added that Weinstein pulled for Judd to star in Good Will Hunting.
“While Ashley was the top choice for Miramax and Mr. Weinstein, the role went to Minnie Driver, who was the star and director’s preference,” the statement says. “Minnie did a brilliant job and he believes Ashley would have as well.”
The spokesperson also said Weinstein was working with Sorvino around the time of the Lord of the Rings casting on Guillermo Del Toro’s film Mimic. They also noted that the actress was dating Quentin Tarantino, “the foundation and backbone of Miramax,” at the time.
“At the time in question, no one could have blacklisted or derailed the career of Ms. Sorvino, who had recently won both an Academy and a Golden Globe award and was being courted for leading roles by all seven studios and every major broadcast network,” the spokesperson stated.
The spokesperson continued, “After the success of Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson was so powerful he could have cast anyone he wanted in the Hobbit. Neither Ms. Judd nor Ms. Sorvino had roles in the film. Mr. Weinstein continues to admire Mr. Jackson for his creative genius, but he firmly denies these accusations.”
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Jackson, speaking with New Zealand publication Stuff, said he received word to avoid working with Judd and Sorvino.
“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,” said the director. “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.”
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.”
Talks with Miramax for Lord of the Rings ultimately fell apart due to “contractual reasons,” Jackson went on to say. The blockbuster film franchise would ultimately be developed through New Line.
Over 50 women — including Judd and Sorvino — 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 previous statement to PEOPLE, Weinstein’s attorneys denied any allegations of sexual assault.
“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,” his lawyers said. “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.”