Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers are calling on a US judge to dismiss a lawsuit from actress Ashley Judd — who accuses the disgraced mogul of torpedoing her career — on the grounds that she had made a sexual “deal” with him.
The 50-year-old actress says the once-influential Hollywood producer sabotaged her career by convincing Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson not to cast Judd after she rejected Weinstein’s sexual advances.
Weinstein fell from grace after scores of women came forward with allegations against him ranging from harassment to rape.
But in a motion filed Tuesday in a Los Angeles court, Weinstein’s defense team insisted Judd had struck a “deal” with Weinstein allowing him to touch her if she “won an Academy Award in one of his films.”
Weinstein’s attorneys claim the ex-movie mogul then “attempted to live up to his part of the bargain” by working to cast Judd in “as many roles as possible” — including opposite Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, a role for which Minnie Driver ultimately won an Oscar nomination.
His action “reflects his motivation to advance her career, not ruin it” and undermines Judd’s “defamation claim (as well as her retaliation claim) in its entirety,” the court documents say.
In a statement responding to the filing, a spokesperson for Judd said: “Mr. Weinstein’s arguments seeking to escape the consequences of his despicable misconduct are not only baseless, they are offensive.”
“We look forward to opposing his flawed motion, moving forward with discovery into his outrageous behavior, and proving to a jury that Mr. Weinstein maliciously damaged Ms. Judd’s career because she resisted his sexual advances.”
Judd says Weinstein told director Jackson he’d had a bad experience with Judd, calling her a “nightmare.”
The New Zealand filmmaker said he had no direct knowledge of sexual misconduct allegations against Weinstein, but that the producer pressured him not to hire Judd or Mira Sorvino.
“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,” Jackson was quoted as telling 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.”
Weinstein, 66, is fighting rape and sexual assault charges against three women, as New York prosecutors build a high-stakes legal battle targeting the father of five.
The #MeToo movement that grew in the wake of his downfall has seen people around the world come forward with cases of sexual mistreatment, leading to the ouster of powerful men across multiple industries.
© Agence France-Presse