Ashley Judd Sues Harvey Weinstein for Sexual Harassment, Defamation

"It's time that Mr. Weinstein be held accountable for that conduct and for the ways in which he’s damaged careers," actress says

Ashley Judd filed a lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein Monday, accusing the disgraced producer of sexual harassment and defamation. Credit: Jae C. Hong/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Ashley Judd filed a lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein Monday, accusing the disgraced producer of sexual harassment and defamation.

"Mr. Weinstein's abusive conduct toward others has caused no end of damage to aspiring actors and others in the film and entertainment industry," Judd said in a statement (via Variety). "As my experience and the experience of others shows, even a few false statements from Mr. Weinstein could destroy potentially career-changing professional opportunities. It's time that Mr. Weinstein be held accountable for that conduct and for the ways in which he's damaged careers."

The lawsuit claims that Weinstein spread "false and malicious statements" about Judd to Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, who had met with Judd in 1998 regarding two possible roles in the blockbuster trilogy.

"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," Judd's attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr. wrote in the lawsuit. "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."

In interviews following the Weinstein scandal, Jackson revealed that Weinstein, whose Miramax originally owned the film rights to Lord of the Rings, persuaded him not to cast Judd in the trilogy. Weinstein allegedly told the director that Judd "was a 'nightmare' to work with and should be avoided 'at all costs,'" the lawsuit claims, adding that Weinstein similarly discredited Mira Sorvino, another actress up for a Lord of the Rings role, to Jackson.

"Acting is a unique job that offers incredible opportunities for creative and personal fulfillment. But it is still a job. And like any professional, an actor like Ms. Judd must rely on her experience and her reputation to find work in the face of fierce competition," the lawsuit states.

"What Ms. Judd did not know until December 2017 was that something unseen was holding her back from obtaining the work she wanted, and had been doing so for decades. The headwind limiting her career was Harvey Weinstein."

In addition to sexual harassment and defamation, Judd is also suing Weinstein for intentional interference with prospective economic advantage and unfair competition. A lawyer for Weinstein did not respond to the lawsuit, New York Times reports.

Judd added that "financial recuperation [from the lawsuit] 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."