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Two Directors Say They Were Told Not To Cast Weinstein Accusers Mira Sorvino And Ashley Judd

Sorvino said the news made her burst into tears: "There it is, confirmation that Harvey Weinstein derailed my career, something I suspected but was unsure."

Posted on December 16, 2017, at 3:12 p.m. ET

Actors Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino were two of the most famous women to come forward with allegations of sexual harassment against producer Harvey Weinstein in the New Yorker and New York Times reports in October that spurred a flood of other allegations against powerful men.

Judd said she was filming Kiss the Girls in 1997 when Weinstein invited her to his hotel room and offered to massage her and watch him shower. Sorvino said she was promoting Mighty Aphrodite, produced by Weinstein's then-company Miramax, when the producer invited her to his hotel rom and massaged her in 1995.Both said they believed their rebuff of his sexual advances had negatively impacted their careers.“There may have been other factors, but I definitely felt iced out and that my rejection of Harvey had something to do with it," Sorvino told the New Yorker.
Cindy Ord / Getty Images for Women's Media Center and Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

Judd said she was filming Kiss the Girls in 1997 when Weinstein invited her to his hotel room and offered to massage her and watch him shower. Sorvino said she was promoting Mighty Aphrodite, produced by Weinstein's then-company Miramax, when the producer invited her to his hotel rom and massaged her in 1995.

Both said they believed their rebuff of his sexual advances had negatively impacted their careers.

“There may have been other factors, but I definitely felt iced out and that my rejection of Harvey had something to do with it," Sorvino told the New Yorker.

Peter Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, on Thursday revealed he had not cast Sorvino and Judd in his films on the advice of Weinstein and his brother Bob, who he called "second-rate Mafia bullies."

"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," he told New Zealand news 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," said Jackson. "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 added.
Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

"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," he told New Zealand news 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," said Jackson.

"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 added.

Sorvino said Friday she burst into tears when she read Jackson's interview, finding "confirmation that Harvey Weinstein derailed my career."

Just seeing this after I awoke, I burst out crying. There it is, confirmation that Harvey Weinstein derailed my car… https://t.co/D4AkmZuFqC

Judd also responded on Twitter, recounting how she'd met with Jackson and his producer wife, Fran Walsh, and how they had asked her which of two roles she was most interested in taking — but then they suddenly cut off all contact with her.

I remember this well. https://t.co/wctEhESAS9

Peter & Fran had me in - showed me all the creative, the boards, costumes, everything. They asked which if the two… https://t.co/zKNdGlEJKl

The Lord of the Rings is one of the most successful movie franchises of all times, winning 17 Oscars and earning over $5 billion from all the films combined.

New Line

In a statement, Weinstein’s spokesperson said Harvey and his brother Bob “had no input into the casting whatsoever” in The Lord of the Rings.

"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," read the statement, published in the New York Post.“While Bob and Harvey Weinstein were executive producers of the film they had no input into the casting whatsoever,” it read.The statement also said that Judd later appeared in two other Weinstein films, Frida and Crossing Over, and that Sorvino had asked Weinstein earlier this year for her husband to be cast in a series he was producing.Frida was written and produced by Salma Hayek, who wrote in the New York Times on Wednesday that Weinstein had tried to destroy her project unless she attached more celebrities to the film, and so she convinced Judd, a close friend, to play a role in it. Hayek also said Weinstein repeatedly sexually harassed her and even threatened her during filming.
Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images

"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," read the statement, published in the New York Post.

“While Bob and Harvey Weinstein were executive producers of the film they had no input into the casting whatsoever,” it read.

The statement also said that Judd later appeared in two other Weinstein films, Frida and Crossing Over, and that Sorvino had asked Weinstein earlier this year for her husband to be cast in a series he was producing.

Frida was written and produced by Salma Hayek, who wrote in the New York Times on Wednesday that Weinstein had tried to destroy her project unless she attached more celebrities to the film, and so she convinced Judd, a close friend, to play a role in it. Hayek also said Weinstein repeatedly sexually harassed her and even threatened her during filming.

Late Friday, Jackson rebuffed Weinstein's claims about he and his brother having no control over the casting, calling Weinstein's comments "a deflection of the truth" in a lengthy statement released to Deadline.

Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

Jackson explained that in the 18 months the film was being developed with Miramax, there were many conversations over casting possibilities:

Amongst the many names raised, Fran and I expressed our enthusiasm for Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino. In fact we met with Ashley and discussed two possible roles with her. After this meeting we were told by Miramax to steer clear of both Ashley and Mira, because they claimed to have had 'bad experiences' with these particular actresses in the past.

Fran Walsh was in the same meeting, and remembers these negative comments about Ashley and Mira as clearly as I do. We have no reason to make it up.

This type of comment is not unusual – it can happen with any studio on any film, when different actor’s names come up in conversation – but once you hear negative feedback about somebody, you don’t forget it.

... The movies changed hands from Miramax to New Line before casting actually got underway – but because we had been warned off Ashley and Mira by Miramax, and we were naive enough to assume we’d been told the truth, Fran and I did not raise their names in New Line casting conversations.

... If we were unwitting accomplices in harming their careers, Fran and I unreservedly apologise to both Ashley and Mira.

Jackson's statement prompted another director to say that he too had been pushed not to cast Sorvino in a film. Terry Zwigoff wrote on Twitter that he'd wanted to put Sorvino in his film, Bad Santa, but had been turned off her by Weinstein.

I was interested in casting Mira Sorvino in BAD SANTA, but every time I mentioned her over the phone to the Weinste… https://t.co/rozTyFaBLh

Bad Santa, released in 2003 and starring Billy Bob Thornton, earned a Golden Globe nomination and over $75 million.

Miramax

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