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Harvey Weinstein Fires Back at Peter Jackson Over Ashley Judd, Mira Sorvino Blacklisting (Update)

“After the success of ‘Lord of the Rings,’ Peter Jackson was so powerful he could have cast anyone he wanted in the ‘Hobbit,'” Weinstein’s spokesperson writes

Last Updated: December 16, 2017 @ 4:11 PM

UPDATE: A spokesperson issued a statement on behalf of Harvey Weinstein on Saturday in response to Peter Jackson’s accusations that Weinstein was denying blacklisting actresses Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino from being cast in the “Lord of the Rings.” Weinstein claims to have “had nothing to do with ‘Lord of the Rings.'” The disgraced movie mogul also denies being involved in casting decisions for “Bad Santa,” following director Terry Zwigoff’s claims Weinstein blacklisted Sorvino from that film as well.

Below is Weinstein’s statement in full.

As Peter Jackson explained in his own statement, Bob and Harvey Weinstein had nothing to do with “Lord of the Rings.”

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.

Around the time of “Rings,” Mr. Weinstein cast Ms. Judd in “Frida” and years later, in “Crossing Over.” Miramax had flown Ashley to New York for casting discussions and to meet the production team for “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. Minnie did a brilliant job and he believes Ashley would have as well.

Mr. Weinstein did not blacklist Mira Sorvino, and was in fact working with her during the timeframe in question on “Mimic,” the Guillermo Del Toro film. Also during that time, she was dating Quentin Tarantino, who was the foundation and backbone of Miramax.

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.

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.

Re: Terry Zwigoff

Mr. Weinstein denies speaking with Terry regarding casting. That was a Dimension film and Harvey had nothing to do with it.

PREVIOUSLY: Peter Jackson accused Harvey Weinstein of pushing actresses Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino out of the “Lord of the Rings” — and he isn’t changing his tune following Weinstein’s “insincere” denial.

The Oscar-winning director released a statement obtained by TheWrap on Friday, after disgraced movie mogul Weinstein rebuked claims that he had blacklisted Judd and Sorvino from being cast in Jackson’s fantasy flick. Jackson doubled down on his initial statement following Weinstein’s denial — which Jackson said is ” a deflection from the truth.”

Added the “LOTR” director: “We stand by what we were told by Miramax when we raised both of their names.” (See his full statement below.)

Judd and Sorvino both responded to Jackson’s original comments on the matter, made to New Zealand’s Stuff, in which he said Weinstein told him the actresses were a “nightmare” to work with.

Judd retweeted Stuff’s story Thursday night, saying of Weinstein’s alleged blacklisting of she and Sorvino: “I remember this well.”

Sorvino also retweeted it, adding: “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.”

Jackson’s statement in full:

Aspects of Harvey’s denial are insincere. He is basically saying that “this blacklisting couldn’t be true because New Line cast the movie”. That’s a deflection from the truth.

In the 18 months we developed the Lord of the Rings at Miramax, we had many casting conversations with Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein and their executives.

During this period, no offers were made to actors because that occurs after a film is greenlit, and Miramax never greenlit these films.

However, many conversations occurred internally regarding potential casting. Fran Walsh and I recall that Morgan Freeman, Paul Scofield, David Bowie, Liam Neeson, Natascha McElhone, Claire Forlani, Francesca Annis, Max von Sydow, and Daniel Day Lewis were some of the names discussed with Miramax for possible roles in The Lord of the Rings movies.

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.

We were not in a position to offer Ashley or Mira a role in the movies, but we attempted to have their names added to a list, for when casting began. Each role can have many actors’ names listed for future auditions and meetings.

In these film maker/studio relationships, there has to be consensus in casting choices – either side can generally veto suggested names for various reasons, and in pre-Lord of the Rings days, we didn’t have the power to override the studio on casting choices.

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.

Nearly 20 years later, we read about the sexual misconduct allegations being made against Harvey Weinstein and we saw comments by both Mira and Ashley, who felt they had been blacklisted by Miramax after rejecting Harvey’s sexual advances.

Fran and I immediately remembered Miramax’s negative reaction when we put their names forward, and we wondered if we had unwittingly been part of the alleged damage to their careers, at the hands of Miramax.

We have no direct evidence linking Ashley and Mira’s allegations to our Lord of the Rings casting conversations of 20 years ago – but we stand by what we were told by Miramax when we raised both of their names, and we are recounting it accurately.

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

Deadline first reported Jackson’s newest statement.

Umberto Gonzalez contributed to this report.