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Ashley Judd is suing film mogul Harvey Weinstein for defamation, sexual harassment, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, and unfair competition.
The American actress claims that he cost her a role in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy by smearing her name to director Peter Jackson, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The lawsuit was filed on Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court and notes that in 1998, the 50-year-old was up for one of two major roles in the famed fantasy films. However, this professional opportunity was 'torpedoed' when Weinstein claimed Judd 'was a "nightmare" to work with and should be avoided "at all costs."'
Judd's attorney, Theodore Boutrous Jr, wrote, "The pathetic reality, however, was that 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.
"A self-described 'benevolent dictator' who has bragged that 'I can be scary,' Weinstein used his power in the entertainment industry to damage Ms. Judd’s reputation and limit her ability to find work."
Judd had no idea that this was the reason she wasn't cast in the film, until an interview with Jackson came out in December 2017 revealing that he was told it would be a bad idea to cast her. The Academy Award winner said he had no reason to question this assertion at the time, but now suspects he was given false information.
Her lawsuit also mentions allegations made by actresses, including Uma Thurman and Salma Hayek, pertaining to Weinstein. They claim that the studio boss threatened their careers after they rejected his sexual advances.
Weinstein's rep responded to the lawsuit yesterday evening, saying, “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 defence of these claims.”
Judd's claims of sexual harassment were not addressed in the statement.
Judd was among the first of the 'Silence Breakers' to speak out in October 2017, alleging that Weinstein had sexually harassed her.