Ashley Judd (ABC News)
Actor Ashley Judd has filed a lawsuit against producer Harvey Weinstein, accusing him of blacklisting her in Hollywood and thwarting her career. “I lost career opportunity. I lost money. I lost status and prestige and power in my career as a direct result of having been sexually harassed and rebuffing the sexual harassment,” she told ABC News. “My career opportunities, after having been defamed by Harvey Weinstein, were significantly diminished… My career was damaged because I rebuffed Mr. Weinstein’s sexual advances. I know it for a fact.”
The NY Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of Weinstein’s decades of predatory behavior opened with Judd’s experience: she says Weinstein lured her to his hotel room for a meeting and, once there, invited her watch him take a shower, then asked to give her a massage. Judd, who had alluded to Weinstein (though never by name) when discussing sexual harassment in Hollywood in 2015, was the first celebrity to come forward, encouraging others, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Lupita N’yongo, and Annabella Sciorra, to share their stories and opening the gates for the #MeToo movement to take hold.
Two months after the NY Times’s and New Yorker’s investigations into how Weinstein allegedly targeted, and, in some cases, assault, young actress and models, writer-director Peter Jackson of The Lord of the Rings revealed that he was interested in both Judd and Mira Sorvino, another actress who refused Weinstein’s advance, for roles in the trilogy but Weinstein told him, “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… 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… 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.”
In an interview with ABC News, Judd said that any monetary damages she receives would be given to the Time’s Up fund: “What I want is for Mr. Weinstein to be held accountable for his illegal conduct. … His behavior and his conduct [were] illegal. And, that accountability is not just for me, but it’s for all people who experience sexual harassment in the workplace with a particular — and this is really important in why this case is groundbreaking — emphasis on economic retaliation and damage to our careers over time.”
My legal complaint. I am suing for economic remedy due to damage done to my career as a result of sexual harassment. Financial recuperation goes to @TIMESUPNOW @TIMESUPLDF so that American workers who experince sexual harassment & retaliation have help. https://t.co/Nod3fXgVk3
— ashley judd (@AshleyJudd) April 30, 2018
Weinstein’s lawyer responded, “The most basic investigation of the facts will reveal that Mr. Weinstein neither defamed Ms. Judd nor ever interfered with Ms. Judd’s career, and instead not only championed her work but also repeatedly approved her casting for two of his movies over the next decade. The actual facts will show that Mr. Weinstein was widely known for having fought for Ms. Judd as his first choice for the lead role in Good Will Hunting and, in fact, arranged for Ms. Judd to fly to New York to be considered for the role. Thereafter, Ms. Judd was hired for not one, but two of Mr. Weinstein’s movies, ‘Frida’ in 2002 and ‘Crossing Over’ with Harrison Ford in 2009. We look forward to a vigorous defense of these claims.”
The disgraced producer, who was ousted from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, has been keeping a low profile as his former company, the Weinstein Company, tries to sell off its assets in bankruptcy. Creditors, including Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Julia Roberts, Jake Gyllenhaal and Bill Murray, claim they are still owed money. Quentin Tarantino says he’s owed “$300,000 for Grindhouse, $575,000 for Inglorious Basterds, $1.25 million for Django [Unchained] and nearly $2.5 million for Hateful Eight.”
The NYPD is still investigating numerous accusations that Weinstein attacked women.