Sir Peter Jackson and wife Fran Walsh are sticking to their guns after Harvey Weinstein denied blacklisting sexual misconduct accusers Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino while The Lord of the Rings casting was taking place.
Sir Peter last week told Fairfax that representatives of Miramax - owned by Weinstein - warned him and Walsh off working with either of the actresses, saying they were a "nightmare" in what he now believes was a deliberate smear campaign due to the women rebuffing Weinstein's advances.
Weinstein, speaking to Entertainment Weekly, has rebuffed these claims, saying casting for LOTR was not up to Miramax, but New Line Cinema, which eventually took over the production after Miramax could not greenlight the films.
A spokesperson for Weinstein said in a statement: "Bob and Harvey Weinstein had nothing to do with Lord of the Rings".
The spokesperson said no blacklisting had taken place, and that both Judd and Sorvino had been cast in other Miramax productions like Frida, Crossing Over and Mimic.
"Around the time of 'Rings', Mr. Weinstein cast Ms. Judd in 'Frida' and years later, in 'Crossing Over'," the statement read.
"Miramax had flown Ashley to New York for casting discussions and to meet the production team for 'Good Will Hunting'.
"While Ashley was the top choice for Miramax and Mr. Weinstein, the role went to Minnie Driver, who was the star and director's preference.
"At the time in question, no one could have blacklisted or derailed the career of Ms. Sorvino, who had recently won both an Academy and a Golden Globe award and was being courted for leading roles by all seven studios and every major broadcast network.
"Mr. Weinstein continues to admire Mr. Jackson for his creative genius, but he firmly denies these accusations."
However, Sir Peter has hit back at the denial, saying both he and Walsh remember very clearly being warned off working with either of the women by Weinstein's studio representatives.
"Aspects of Harvey's denial are insincere ... he is basically saying that "this blacklisting couldn't be true because New Line cast the movie" ... that's a deflection from the truth," Sir Peter said in a statement to EW.
"In the 18 months we developed the Lord of the Rings at Miramax, we had many casting conversations with Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein and their executives.
"Amongst the many names raised, Fran and I expressed our enthusiasm for Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino ... in fact, we met with Ashley and discussed two possible roles with her ... after this meeting, we were told by Miramax to steer clear of both Ashley and Mira, because they claimed to have had 'bad experiences' with these particular actresses in the past.
"Fran Walsh was in the same meeting, and remembers these negative comments about Ashley and Mira as clearly as I do - we have no reason to make it up.
"Once you hear negative feedback about somebody, you don't forget it.
"In these film-maker/studio relationships, there has to be consensus in casting choices - either side can generally veto suggested names for various reasons, and in pre-Lord of the Rings days, we didn't have the power to override the studio on casting choices.
"The movies changed hands from Miramax to New Line before casting actually got underway – but because we had been warned off Ashley and Mira by Miramax, and we were naive enough to assume we'd been told the truth, Fran and I did not raise their names in New Line casting conversations.
"Nearly 20 years later, we read about the sexual misconduct allegations being made against Harvey Weinstein and we saw comments by both Mira and Ashley, who felt they had been blacklisted by Miramax after rejecting Harvey’s sexual advances.
"Fran and I immediately remembered Miramax’s negative reaction when we put their names forward, and we wondered if we had unwittingly been part of the alleged damage to their careers, at the hands of Miramax.
"We have no direct evidence linking Ashley and Mira's allegations to our Lord of the Rings casting conversations of 20 years ago – but we stand by what we were told by Miramax when we raised both of their names, and we are recounting it accurately.
"If we were unwitting accomplices in harming their careers, Fran and I unreservedly apologise to both Ashley and Mira."
Both Judd and Mira have tweeted about Sir Peter's revelations, thanking Sir Peter for speaking up.
"Peter & Fran had me in - showed me all the creative, the boards, costumes, everything," Judd tweeted.
"They asked which if the two roles I preferred, and then I abruptly never heard from them again ... I appreciate the truth coming out - Thank you, Peter."
Sorvino said the revelations had confirmed suspicions she had long held.
"I burst out crying ... there it is, confirmation that Harvey Weinstein derailed my career, something I suspected but was unsure," Sorvino tweeted. "Thank you Peter Jackson for being honest ... I'm just heartsick."