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Very Real

Ashley Judd Says Harvey Weinstein Damaged Her Career After Rebuffing Sexual Harassment

Actress and activist Ashley Judd says that rejecting Weinstein’s advances cost her career-defining roles including one in the "Lord of the Rings" franchise. 

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

Less than a day after announcing her lawsuit against disgraced Hollywood exec Harvey Weinstein, Ashley Judd is opening up about her claims.

In a suit filed Monday alleging sexual harassment and defamation, Judd argues that Weinstein’s disparaging remarks damaged her career, CNN reports. The actress paid a visit to Good Morning America on Tuesday, where she revealed what saying “no” cost her.

“I lost 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,” Judd said. “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,” she continued.

Judd’s suit alleges that Weinstein’s influence is the reason she was denied a role in the Academy Award-winning "Lord of the Rings" franchise, USA Today reports. Judd said that she met with director Peter Jackson and his producing partner Fran Walsh around 1998 to discuss two possible roles in the films, but the talks ultimately lead nowhere. Judd said that after Jackson and Walsh told Weinstein's company, which owned the rights to the "Lord of the Rings" films, about their interest in casting her, Weinstein told them that his studio had had a “bad experience” with Judd and called her a “nightmare” to work with who should be avoided at all costs. Jackson spoke about the situation himself in December last year, during an interview with New Zealand publication Stuff, where he revealed that Weinstein told him not to cast Judd nor actress Mira Sorvino.

Judd alleges that Weinstein blocked her from working with Jackson as retaliation for turning down his sexual advances a year earlier. In 1997, Judd claims, Weinstein sexually harassed her during a meeting in his hotel room. Before she was able to remove herself from the situation, Weinstein tried to convince her to give him a massage and watch him take a shower, Judd claims.

Through a representative, Weinstein denied Judd’s allegations against him in a statement to CNN.

“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,” Weinstein’s statement reads. “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.”

Judd says that she wasn’t the only victim of Weinstein’s retaliatory blacklisting either, in a statement sent to USA Today by Judd's lawyers. “Mr. Weinstein’s abusive conduct toward others has caused no end of damage to aspiring actors and others in the film and entertainment industry. As my experience and the experience of others shows, even a few false statements from Mr. Weinstein could destroy potentially career-changing professional opportunities,” Judd said.

Judd said that she would donate any monetary damages from the lawsuit to the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund, ABC News reports. What she wants, her suit explained, is for Weinstein to be held accountable for his “illegal conduct.”

“His behavior and his conduct [were] illegal,” the suit reads. “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.”

(Photo: Ashley Judd attends the Women's Media Center 2017 Women's Media Awards at Capitale on October 26, 2017 in New York City. By Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Women's Media Center)