EXCLUSIVE: Shortly after Harvey Weinstein denied claims that he blackballed Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino from being cast in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies, Jackson has chimed back in, calling parts of Weinstein’s denial “insincere.” Here is Jackson’s rebuttal 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 apologise to both Ashley and Mira.