As the Harvey Weinstein scandal has unfolded, a constant theme has been Weinstein's accusers claiming that the disgraced mogul threatened to end their careers if they did not submit to his requests.
In a chilling new interview with New Zealand media outlet Stuff, director Peter Jackson recalled that Weinstein told him not to cast actresses Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino, both among Weinstein's recent accusers, in his Lord of the Rings trilogy.
"Just seeing this after I awoke, I burst out crying," Sorvino wrote on Twitter, linking to the interview. "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."
Judd also shared the story on Twitter, writing, "I remember this well."
In the interview, Jackson recalled meeting with Weinstein in the late 1990s to pitch The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films to Weinstein's Miramax studio, which had distributed his 1994 film Heavenly Creatures.
"I recall Miramax telling us (Judd and Sorvino) were a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs. This was probably in 1998," Jackson said. "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."
Sorvino has said her problems with Weinstein began in 1995; Judd's occurred in 1997.
"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, who likened Weinstein and his brother Bob to "second-rate Mafia bullies," instructed his wife, writer/producer Fran Walsh, to find a new studio home for Lord of the Rings after Miramax insisted on only making one film instead of the two he desired.
"Movie-making is much more fun when you work with nice people," noted Jackson, who ended up turning his J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation into three movies with New Line.
"Although (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," he said.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy went on to earn over $1 billion at the box office and 17 Oscars, including best picture, director and adapted screenplay for the third film, 2003's The Return of the King.
In a statement to USA TODAY, Holly K. Baird, a spokeswoman for Weinstein, noted the producer has "nothing but the utmost respect for Peter Jackson. 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. While Bob and Harvey Weinstein were executive producers of the film, they had no input into the casting whatsoever."
As for Jackson's comments about Weinstein blacklisting Judd and Sorvino, Baird's statement said, "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."
© 2018 USATODAY.COM