Ashley Judd Is Suing Harvey Weinstein
Ashley Judd is suing Harvey Weinstein for allegedly torpedoing her career by spreading “false and malicious statements” regarding her “professionalism as an actor,” according to a complaint filed in Los Angeles on Monday.
Specifically, the complaint refers to recent reports that the disgraced mogul succeeded in dissuading director Peter Jackson and screenwriter Fran Walsh from casting Judd in their Lord of the Rings movies after she says she rebuffed his sexual advances.
“My legal complaint,” Judd tweeted Monday, along with a link to the complaint. “I am suing for economic remedy due to damage done to my career as a result of sexual harassment. Financial recuperation goes to @TIMESUPNOW @TIMESUPLDF so that American workers who experience sexual harassment & retaliation have help.”
Earlier this year, while speaking with New Zealand publication Stuff, Jackson said that when he pitched his initial plans for both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings to Miramax, the Weinstein brothers—whom he described as “second-rate Mafia bullies”—warned him that actress Mira Sorvino and Judd were difficult to work with.
“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,” Jackson told the outlet. “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.”
He added, “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.”
Citing Jackson’s admission that Weinstein’s warning influenced his casting decision, the complaint argues that “with [Weinstein’s] baseless smears, [he] 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. He also effectively blocked Ms. Judd from future opportunities to work with Mr. Jackson and Ms. Walsh.”
When Jackson first came forward with the accusation against Weinstein, a spokesperson for the former producer said in a statement to People that “while Bob and Harvey Weinstein were executive producers of the film [Lord of the Rings] they had no input into the casting whatsoever.” It went on to add that “until Ashley Judd wrote a piece for Variety two years ago, no one at the Company knew that she had a complaint and she was cast in two other films by Mr. Weinstein [Frida and Crossing Over] and Mira Sorvino was always considered for other films as well.”
A spokesperson also noted, “Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.”
In response to Judd’s new complaint, a representative for Weinstein said, “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.”
Over 60 women have accused Weinstein, 65, of sexual misconduct since The New York Times and The New Yorker documented decades of alleged sexual misconduct and sexual assault involving a number of women in detailed articles in October.
In a statement to People, Weinstein’s attorneys, Blair Berk and Benjamin Brafman, previously said: “Mr. Weinstein has never at any time committed an act of sexual assault, and it is wrong and irresponsible to conflate claims of impolitic behavior or consensual sexual contact later regretted, with an untrue claim of criminal conduct. There is a wide canyon between mere allegation and truth, and we are confident that any sober calculation of the facts will prove no legal wrongdoing occurred.
“Nonetheless, to those offended by Mr. Weinstein’s behavior, he remains deeply apologetic.”
Judd has spoken candidly about her experience since the report, opening up to ABC News’ Diane Sawyer in October about the business meeting with Weinstein at his hotel room two decades ago that she says resulted in her repeatedly having to fend off his advances.
“I thought no meant no,” she said, after alleging that Weinstein appeared in a bathrobe, asked to give her a massage and told her to watch him shower.
“I fought with this volley of ‘no’s’ which he ignored. Who knows, maybe he heard them as ‘maybe.’ Maybe he heard them as ‘yes’s.’ Maybe they turned him on. I don’t know.”
Judd recalled how she got herself out of the situation by promising she’d help him pick out his suit for the day, “When I win an Oscar in one of your movies.”
“He’s like, ‘Yeah, when you get nominated.’ I said, ‘No! When I win an Oscar.’ And then I just fled.’”
Judd is suing for unspecified damages.