Peter Jackson: ‘I fear I was an unwitting accomplice in Hollywood smear campaign’

Peter Jackson is standing by comments he has made about not casting Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino in Lord of the Rings, confessing he fears he may have been an “unwitting accomplice” of a smear campaign.
The filmmaker told website Stuff that he was warned about working with the two stars when he was involved in early negotiations with bosses at Harvey Weinstein’s film company Miramax.
Peter, who eventually chose to tie himself to executives at New Line Cinema for the trilogy, told the website, “I recall Miramax telling us they were a nightmare to work with and we 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. 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.”
Disgraced producer Weinstein responded to Jackson’s claims, insisting the director was “fed false information” about the actresses.
Representatives for Harvey issued a statement on Friday (15Dec17), which read: “Mr. Weinstein 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.”
Jackson has now taken issue with the Weinstein statement, insisting parts of the producer’s statement are “insincere”, adding, “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.”
But the director admits that Judd and Sorvino’s names were raised as possible stars, and he and his production partner and wife Fran Walsh 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.”
He adds, “The movies changed hands from Miramax to New Line before casting actually got underway, but because we had been warned off Ashley and Mira by Miramax, and we were naive enough to assume we’d been told the truth, Fran and I did not raise their names in New Line casting conversations.
“Nearly 20 years later, we read about the sexual misconduct allegations being made against Harvey Weinstein and we saw comments by both Mira and Ashley, who felt they had been blacklisted by Miramax after rejecting Harvey’s sexual advances. Fran and I immediately remembered Miramax’s negative reaction when we put their names forward, and we wondered if we had unwittingly been part of the alleged damage to their careers, at the hands of Miramax.
“If we were unwitting accomplices in harming their careers, Fran and I unreservedly apologise to both Ashley and Mira.”
Both actresses have claimed their careers were ruined by Weinstein after they spurned his unwanted sexual advances.
Mira previously praised Jackson for confirming her worst fears about a smear campaign, tweeting: “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.”