Sir Peter Jackson is engaging in a war of words with disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein over accusations that Weinstein blacklisted both Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino.
The two Hollywood actresses were among the first to come forward with accusations of sexual misconduct against Weinstein, all of which he denies.
In their subsequent interviews, Judd and Sorvino both questioned if their careers had been hindered because they resisted Weinstein's alleged advances - although both acknowledged that they'd never received proof of a blacklist.
Now Judd and Sorvino have both been named directly by Sir Peter Jackson as two actresses who he was advised not to work with when Weinstein's Miramax briefly developed the first Lord of the Rings movie.
"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," he told New Zealand's Stuff.
The filmmaker said he had "no direct experience or knowledge of the sexual allegations" against Weinstein when they worked together, so he agreed not to cast the aforementioned actresses.
"At the time, we had no reason to question what these guys were telling us – but in hindsight, I realise that this was very likely the Miramax smear campaign in full swing," he recalled.
"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."
His statements were met with thanks from both Judd and Sorvino, who tweeted that they were relieved to have their suspicions apparently validated after all of these years. Their tweets are below:
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 https://t.co/ljK9NqICbm- Mira Sorvino (@MiraSorvino) December 15, 2017
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 hem again. I appreciate the truth coming out. Thank you, Peter. https://t.co/iXKuK6Xqtx- ashley judd (@AshleyJudd) December 15, 2017
However, Weinstein's representatives later denied that the producer ever engaged in blacklisting, pointing to Judd's work in his films into the 2000s.
"Mr. Weinstein has nothing but the utmost respect for Peter Jackson," his spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter. "However, as Mr. Jackson will probably remember, because Disney would not finance the Lord of the Rings, Miramax lost the project and all casting was done by New Line."
The Weinstein camp also said that they were not aware of any ill will from Judd until just two years ago, and claimed that Sorvino called the producer to ask about a job for her husband earlier this year - which she denies.
In spite of that strenuous denial, Sir Peter Jackson countered later Friday with an extensive statement detailing what he alleges was interference from Miramax early in his Lord of the Rings development process.
"Aspects of Harvey's denial are insincere," Jackson told Deadline. "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."
The filmmaker continued: "Many conversations occurred internally regarding potential casting… Amongst the many names raised, [producing partner] 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."
Jackson ended his statement with an apology to Judd and Sorvino, saying: "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."
Weinstein's representatives have yet to respond to this second statement from the director.
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