Lord Of The Rings director says Weinstein waged smear campaign against actresses

Director Peter Jackson (above) says Harvey Weinstein pressured him not to hire Ashley Judd or Mira Sorvino. PHOTO: TOURISM NEW ZEALAND

Wellington (AFP) - Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson on Friday (Dec 15) accused Harvey Weinstein of orchestrating a smear campaign in the late 1990s against actresses who have since come forward to accuse the producer of sexual harassment.

Jackson worked with Weinstein and his brother Bob early in the development of The Lord Of The Rings, saying the pair acted like "second-rate Mafia bullies".

The director said he had no direct knowledge of sexual misconduct allegations against Weinstein but the producer pressured him not to hire Ashley Judd or Mira Sorvino.

Both actresses were among the first to publicly accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct.

Jackson said in the late 1990s Judd and Sorvino were in the running for roles in his Tolkien blockbuster before Weinstein's Miramax stepped in.

"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," he told Fairfax New Zealand.

"At the time, we had no reason to question what these guys were telling us - but in hindsight, I realise 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."

Miramax pulled out of Lord Of The Rings, which was taken over by New Line and released as a trilogy that went on to be a critical and commercial success, winning multiple Academy Awards.

"My experience, when Miramax controlled The Lord Of The Rings, was of Weinstein and his brother behaving like second-rate Mafia bullies," said Jackson.

"They weren't the type of guys I wanted to work with - so I haven't. Movie-making is much more fun when you work with nice people."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.