Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson has admitted to blacklisting two Hollywood actresses from the trilogy on the advice of now-disgraced Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein’s production company Miramax.
Now, he says he’s starting to realise that was likely to be part of a smear campaign.So, what did Peter Jackson say?
Jackson has revealed he showed interest in hiring Mira Sorvino and Ashley Judd to work on the Lord of the Rings films while pitching to Miramax in the late 1990s, but was advised to avoid working with them.
While the film ended up going to New Line Cinema, he told New Zealand news website Stuff that Miramax said they were “a nightmare” to work with, affecting his decision to not consider them for his Lord of the Rings films, which were released from 2001.
“I recall Miramax telling us they were a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs,” Jackson said.
“This was probably in 1998.
“At the time, we had no reason to question what these guys were telling us … 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.”
The films went on to win more than 400 industry awards and grossed more than $US2.9 billion in ticket sales worldwide.
What’s been the reaction?
Sorvino admitted she “burst out crying” when she saw the article, saying it was confirmation Weinstein had derailed her career.
She took to Twitter and wrote:
“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.”
Earlier this month, Sorvino wrote a column for The Hollywood Reporter claiming she was never offered another role after winning the Oscar for best actress in 1996 for Mighty Aphrodite.
“As for my career, I can’t say for certain if it was impacted — there are other variables, like the fact that I had four children in eight years… But I won an Oscar with Miramax,” she wrote.
“To not continue and star in their movies much past that doesn’t make sense.
“I felt if I had accepted Harvey’s advances, I would have continued to make movies with them, and they were the people winning the Oscars for that decade.
“I was not offered any movie roles past 1996.”
Judd also responded to Jackson’s comments on Twitter and recalled having detailed talks with the director about the Lord of the Rings film before “abruptly” never hearing from him again.
“Peter & Fran had me in — showed me all the creative, the boards, costumes, everything. They asked which if the two roles I preferred, and then I abruptly never heard from them again. I appreciate the truth coming out. Thank you, Peter.”
What’s Weinstein said?
He’s denied the claims he blacklisted them from the film and other projects.
He’s also denied accusations of sexual harassment by more than 50 women, including Judd and Sorvino.
A spokesperson for Weinstein said Miramax and Weinstein had “had no input into the casting whatsoever”, which was handled by New Line.
The statement said Judd was subsequently cast by Weinstein in two other movies — Frida and Crossing Over.
It also went on to add Sorvino had contacted Weinstein earlier this year to ask if her husband — actor Christopher Backus — could be cast in the television series Six that he was producing, and he went on to cast him.
In a following statement, Jackson said aspects of Harvey’s denial were “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,” Jackson wrote.
In the statement — on behalf of himself and producer Fran Walsh — Jackson said they had both expressed enthusiasm for Judd and Sorvino.
“We were immediately told by Miramax to steer clear of them, because they claimed to have had “bad experiences” with these particular actresses in the past,” Jackson wrote.
“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 apologise to both Ashley and Mira.”