'Ms. Judd reasonably believed that Weinstein intended to physically assault her.'
Another lawsuit has landed on Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s lap, this time from a familiar Hollywood face. Allegiant star Ashley Judd has filed a claim against the man, which accuses him of sexual harassment, defamation and essentially tanking her acting career.
In court documents reviewed by Reuters, the Los Angeles suit alleges that, ‘Weinstein used his power in the entertainment industry to damage Ms Judd’s reputation and limit her ability to find work.’
Weinstein, who has previously been accused of sexual harassment, rape and similar methods of intimidation by the likes of Rose McGowan, Asia Argento and Lupita N’yongo, was a powerful figure in the film industry as a mega producer and head of Miramax. Judd’s lawsuit follows an interview with director Peter Jackson, who revealed that he had actually wanted to cast her in The Lord of the Rings but was told by the Weinstein Company that the actress alongside Mira Sorvino were ‘blacklisted’.
Peter Jackson said at the time to Stuff, ‘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 realise this was very likely the Miramax smear campagin 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.’
Consequently, the suit claims that Weinstein ‘torpedoed’ her chances at starring in the Oscar-winning film and also ruined her reputation in Hollywood after he said she ‘was a “nightmare” to work with and should be avoided “at all costs”’. She posted the full document to her Twitter, which can be viewed below.
It continues, ‘With these baseless smears, Weinstein succeeded in blacklisting Ms. Judd and destroying her ability to work on what became a multi-billion-dollar franchise with 17 Academy Award wins and many more nominations.’
She was one of the first women to come out in opposition to the producer amidst the Time’s Up movement, revealing that she had reportedly been invited to Weinstein’s hotel room. The court documents go into further detail about her experience of alleged harassment, claiming that she was invited to Harvey Weinstein’s private hotel room on the pretence of a breakfast meeting.
It read, ‘When Ms Judd arrived at the room, Weinstein appeared in a bathrobe, and, instead of discussing film roles, asked if he could give her a massage. She refused. He asked her to help him pick out clothes and to watch him shower. She refused again. There was no one else in the room and no way for someone to come in to help her because the door was locked to the outside. Ms. Judd reasonably believed that Weinstein intended to physically assault her.’
Judd claims she was able to get away through a ‘mock bargain’, where she suggested that she would let him touch her if she won an Academy Award in one of his films and took her opportunity to escape. Her experience follows a similar trend that stars like Uma Thurman, Salma Hayek, Emma de Caunes and other Harvey Weinstein accusers have detailed at the producer’s hands.
Ashley Judd said to The New York Times previously, ‘I said no, a lot of ways, a lot of times, and he always came back at me with some new ask. It was all this bargaining, this coercive bargaining.’
Weinstein’s spokesperson told the BBC that he had ‘neither defamed Ms Judd nor ever interfered with Ms Judd’s career’.
The actor has said that if she wins her case, she plans on donating any financial proceeds to the Time’s Up movement’s legal defense fund. According to the GoFundMe, the fund ‘connects those who experience sexual harassment, abuse or related retaliation in the workplace or trying to advance their careers with legal and public relations assistance’.