Director Peter Jackson Says Harvey Weinstein’s Company Told Him To Blacklist Actresses

"In hindsight, I realise that this was very likely the Miramax smear campaign in full swing."

Filmmaker Peter Jackson has spoken out about his experience working with disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein on Lord of the Rings, claiming that he was advised not to cast certain actresses in the fantasy trilogy — actresses who subsequently accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct.

In a recent interview with New Zealand news outlet Stuff, Jackson recalls pitching his adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels to Miramax in the late ’90s, when the studio was run by Harvey Weinstein and his brother Bob. Jackson says he had expressed interest in casting actresses Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino in the films, but was told by Miramax they were both “a nightmare” to work with and he “should avoid them at all costs”.

“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,” said Jackson. “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.”

Jackson also described the Weinsteins as behaving “like second-rate Mafia bullies”.

“They weren’t the type of guys I wanted to work with – so I haven’t,” said the filmmaker, who ultimately took Lord of the Rings to New Line Cinema instead.

“Although [Harvey Weinstein’s] name had to be on the Lord of the Rings credits for contractual reasons, he was not involved in the movies we ended up making,” Jackson added.

Sorvino and Judd are among the more than 50 actresses who have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault. Following Jackson’s interview with Stuff, they both took to social media to thank the director for speaking up.

Harvey Weinstein has disputed Jackson’s blacklisting claims. “While Bob and Harvey Weinstein were executive producers of the film, they had no input into the casting whatsoever,” read a statement from his spokesperson.

In response to Weinstein’s denial, Jackson issued a statement — on behalf of both himself and his wife and producer Fran Walsh — in which they both stood by their recollections.

“[Weinstein] is basically saying that ‘this blacklisting couldn’t be true because New Line cast the movie’. That’s a deflection from the truth,” said Jackson. “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.”

“If we were unwitting accomplices in harming their careers, Fran and I unreservedly apologise to both Ashley and Mira,” he added.