Harvey Weinstein is under investigation by prosecutors in New York, Los Angeles, and London for his alleged sex crimes, but he still may never face criminal charges for sexual assault, let alone sexual harassment. But one woman who says that her career was derailed by the disgraced producer is hitting him where it really hurts: His wallet. Actress Ashley Judd is suing Weinstein for an alleged smear campaign that lost her a role in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, The New York Times reports.
The charge itself is nothing new: Back when the allegations against Weinstein were first made public last fall, Judd said in The New York Times that Weinstein had made inappropriate advances on her on several occasions, advances she was thankfully able to dodge. But her career suffered after that, she reports. Peter Jackson confirmed Judd’s suspicions in an interview with New Zealand’s Stuff magazine in December, saying that he had taken Judd and Mira Sorvino’s names off of a casting list for the Lord Of The Rings films after being told by the Weinsteins that they were “nightmares” to work with and should be avoided “at all costs.” (Judd had previously met with Jackson and writer/producer Fran Walsh, who asked her which of two roles in the trilogy she would prefer to play.) “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 said, apologizing to them both.
Jackson’s statement is now at the center of Judd’s lawsuit, as concrete evidence of something that otherwise would be very difficult to prove in court due to the inherently secretive nature of the rumors Judd says harmed her career. She’s suing Weinstein for defamation, sexual harassment, and violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law, which prohibits “unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business acts and practices.”
The complaint reads: “Weinstein’s wrongful and outrageous conduct has not just deprived Ms. Judd of the specific opportunity to play a prominent role in a blockbuster film trilogy; it has had a long-lasting ripple effect on her whole career. No person—in whatever job, in whatever industry—should have to forfeit professional aspirations and the right to earn a living to the abusive whims of the powerful.” Judd says that any financial damages she receives from the lawsuit will be donated to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which represents victims of workplace sexual misconduct across multiple industries.
Weinstein denied Jackson’s statement after his interview was first published—a denial Jackson rejected, saying, “Fran Walsh was in the same meeting, and remembers these negative comments about Ashley and Mira as clearly as I do”—and issued another denial through a spokesman after Judd filed her lawsuit on Monday. He’s also currently being sued in a class-action lawsuit in New York, as well as by British actress Kadian Noble, who’s suing him for sex trafficking.