SANTA MONICA (CN) — Ashley Judd sued Harvey Weinstein for punitive damages Monday, claiming he sexually harassed her and defamed her after she rejected him, costing her a role in the “Lord of the Rings” and blacklisting her to major studios.
Represented in Los Angeles County Superior Court by Theodore Boutrous Jr. with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Judd alleges common-law defamation, sexual harassment, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, and violation of business and professional codes.
Judd, 50, a veteran of many movies and an Emmy-nominated actress for a television series, comes from a well-known artistic family that includes her half-sister, Wynona, and mother, Naomi Judd. She claims that she did not know until December 2017 “that something unseen was holding her back from obtaining the work she wanted, and had been doing so for decades.”
Holding her back was Weinstein, she says, because she rejected his advances in late 1996 or early 1997.
In 1998, she says, she met with director Peter Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh, to discuss playing one of two major roles in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
“They shared confidential creative details about the films with her and indicated that she could choose which role she wanted to play,” the complaint states. “Mr. Jackson and Ms. Walsh then told Weinstein’s company, Miramax, which owned the rights to ‘The Lord of the Rings’ at the time, that they wanted to cast Ms. Judd in the films. But Weinstein torpedoed Ms. Judd’s incredible professional opportunity when he told Mr. Jackson and Ms. Walsh that the studio had had a ‘bad experience’ with Ms. Judd, and that Ms. Judd was a ‘nightmare’ to work with and should be avoided ‘at all costs.’”
The complaint continues: “With those baseless smears, Weinstein succeeded in blacklisting Ms. Judd and destroying her ability to work on what became a multibillion-dollar franchise …
“The pathetic reality, however, was the Weinstein was retaliating against Ms. Judd for rejecting his sexual demands approximately one year earlier, when he cornered her in a hotel room under the guise of discussing business.”
The 28-page lawsuit cites claims from several other (nonparty) actresses who have made similar claims against Weinstein, including Salma Hayek; Uma Thurman, who “has said publicly that she knew Weinstein ‘pretty well before he attacked me;’” Rosanna Arquette; Annabelle Sciorra, who “stated publicly that Weinstein raped her;” and claims that Weinstein defamed and/or threatened to defame them and others if they revealed what he had done.
Judd and Weinstein are the only parties to this lawsuit. Neither side could be reached for comment after office hours Monday or before office hours Tuesday.