UPDATED with statement from Weinstein’s rep: Ashley Judd has filed a lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein alleging that his pattern of retaliation, defamation, and sabotage against women who refused his sexual advances damaged her career.
The suit’s claims partly hinge on the news reports about Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh wanting to cast Judd in their Lord of the Rings movies backed by Weinstein’s Miramax in 1998. The suit says that, in retaliation for Judd rebuffing Weinstein, he “torpedoed Ms. Judd’s incredible professional opportunity” when he told Jackson and Walsh “that [his] studio had had a ‘bad experience’ with Ms. Judd, and that Ms. Judd was a ‘nightmare’ to work with and should be avoided ‘at all costs.’ ”
“With those baseless smears, Weinstein succeeded in blacklisting Ms. Judd and destroying her ability to work on what became a multibillion-dollar franchise with 17 Academy Award wins and
many more nominations,” the suit reads.
It adds: “The pathetic reality, however, was that Weinstein was retaliating against Ms. Judd for rejecting his sexual demands approximately one year earlier, when he cornered her in a hotel room under the guise of discussing business. A self-described ‘benevolent dictator’ who has bragged that ‘I can be scary,’ Weinstein used his power in the entertainment industry to damage Ms. Judd’s reputation and limit her ability to find work.”
At the time the alleged LOTR conversations surrounding Judd and fellow Weinstein accuser Mira Sorvino surfaced via Jackson, a Weinstein spokesman denied he blacklisted Judd, saying New Line not Miramax had casting authority.
Today’s filing comes as Weinstein’s former company, The Weinstein Company, is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, awaiting bidder submissions for the right to take over the film and TV producer-financier. The company was decimated soon after a pair of Weinstein exposes alleging decades of sexual harassment and abuse appeared in October 2017 first in the New York Times and then the New Yorker. Judd was a key component of the NYT story.
“Mr. Weinstein’s abusive conduct toward others has caused no end of damage to aspiring actors and others in the film and entertainment industry,” said Judd, who is donating any money recovered in the suit to charity. “As my experience and the experience of others shows, even a few false statements from Mr. Weinstein could destroy potentially career-changing professional opportunities. It’s time that Mr. Weinstein be held accountable for that conduct and for the ways in which he’s damaged careers.”
Weinstein, who was fired by the TWC board of directors in October, is under investigation in Los Angeles, New York, London and Beverly Hills for alleged sexual assault. As many as 100 women of have come forward since last October’s bombshell reporting, though he has denied throughout via his spokesperson any allegations of non-consensual sex.
Weinstein’s representatives issued the following statement in response Judd’s lawsuit:
The most basic investigation of the facts will reveal that Mr. Weinstein neither defamed Ms. Judd nor ever interfered with Ms. Judd’s career, and instead not only championed her work but also repeatedly approved her casting for two of his movies over the next decade. The actual facts will show that Mr. Weinstein was widely known for having fought for Ms. Judd as his first choice for the lead role in Good Will Hunting and, in fact, arranged for Ms. Judd to fly to New York to be considered for the role. Thereafter, Ms. Judd was hired for not one, but two of Mr. Weinstein’s movies, Frida in 2002 and Crossing Over with Harrison Ford in 2009. We look forward to a vigorous defense of these claims.