SANTA MONICA (CNS) - Actress Ashley Judd, one of the first women to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, sued the disgraced film producer today, alleging he defamed her after she rejected his sexual advances and damaged her career.
The Santa Monica Superior Court complaint alleges Weinstein ruined her chance to be cast in the ``Lord of the Rings'' trilogy by making false statements to director Peter Jackson and production partner Fran Walsh that he had a bad experience with Judd, calling her a ``nightmare'' to work with.
``With those baseless smears, Weinstein succeeded in blacklisting Ms. Judd and destroying her ability to work on what became a multibillion-dollar franchise with 17 Academy Award wins and many more nominations,'' the suit states.
``... 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,'' the suit states. ``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.''
While Weinstein profited, actresses such as Judd can never ``fully be made whole'' for their lost opportunities, the suit states.The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. Judd said in a prepared statement that any damages she wins will be donated to the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund ``so that women and men in all professions may have legal redress for sexual harassment, economic retaliation and damage to their careers.''
Weinstein has previously denied having any input into casting decision involving ``Lord of the Rings,'' which began pre-production work under the Miramax studio but later moved to New Line Cinema. The film's director, Peter Jackson, has said he remembers Weinstein making negative comments about Judd and another actress who has accused Weinstein of misconduct, Mira Sorvino.