Ashley Judd sues Harvey Weinstein: 'My career was damaged' because I rebuffed him

She claims he damaged her career by blocking her from getting major movie roles.

April 30, 2018, 10:35 PM

Actress Ashley Judd and her lawyers have filed a lawsuit today against disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein, claiming that he damaged her career by blocking her from getting major movie roles in retaliation for turning down his advances.

"I lost career 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 told ABC News today. "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."

In October, Judd sat down with ABC News' Diane Sawyer in her first television interview about her Weinstein allegations.

Ashley Judd and her lawyers have filed a lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein, whom she alleges sexually harassed her and then blacklisted her in Hollywood.
ABC News

Nearly seven months since then, Judd said her experiences have been really positive.

"I feel good. I feel optimistic and empowered. ... What has surprised me the most ... was the joy of the stampede," she said today. "When I stand up for myself or I choose to work on my own liberation it cannot but help other people stand more fully in their truths and in their light."

Judd, who said she had not heard from Weinstein, said she would donate any monetary damages from the lawsuit to the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund.

"What I want is for Mr. Weinstein to be held accountable for his illegal conduct. ... His behavior and his conduct [were] illegal. 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," she said.

In 1997, Judd was filming a movie when she said Weinstein invited her to a Beverly Hills hotel for a business meeting.

When she got there, she said Weinstein, now 65, had her sent up to his room. When she got to Weinstein's room, Judd said Weinstein asked to give her a massage and then asked for her to give him one, she added.

"I fought with this volley of 'no's,' which he ignored," Judd told Sawyer in October. "Who knows? Maybe he heard them as 'maybe.' Maybe he heard them as 'yeses.' Maybe they turned him on."

She said he steered her into a hallway near a closet and asked her to pick out his suit to wear for the day. Judd said she wouldn't sit down, but remained standing as she cowered in the hall for a few minutes. At one point, she said Weinstein asked her to come into the bathroom and watch him take a shower.

PHOTO: Harvey Weinstein attends the Academy Awards, March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, California.
Harvey Weinstein attends the Academy Awards, March 2, 2014 in Hollywood, Calif.
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images, FILE

Exasperated, Judd said she offered a sort of deal to Weinstein to get him to back off so she could leave.

"He kept coming back at me with all this other stuff," she said. "And finally I just said, 'When I win an Oscar in one of your movies, OK?' And he was like, 'Yeah, when you get nominated.' I said, 'No, when I win an Oscar.' And then I just fled.'"

A year later, she said she was in talks with "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson to play a role in the blockbuster trilogy "Lord of the Rings." She said she went from being invited to consider two roles to "poof," nothing.

"We never heard anything back and I remember calling my agent multiple times," Judd said.

She claims that Weinstein allegedly told filmmakers that she was a "nightmare" to work with and should be avoided at all costs.

In December, "Lord of the Rings" director Jackson spoke to the New Zealand publication Stuff and said that Weinstein made him blacklist certain female stars, including Judd.

Judd said today that learning of that had made her feel "very sad."

She said that back then, at the time, her career was on "a roll" but she didn't reach out to a producer to find out why she was being overlooked for certain films.

She said today that the ultimate goal of her lawsuit is "safe and equal workplaces and for economic damage to women's careers, in particular, to end and for the threat and action of retaliation to end."

Ashley Judd during "Norma Jean & Marilyn" HBO Los Angeles Premiere at Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, Calif., May 15, 1996.
Jim Smeal/WireImage/Getty Images

Weinstein has denied all allegations of sexual assault. Last year, Weinstein's spokesperson said that while Bob and Harvey Weinstein were executive producers of Jackson's film, they had no input on the casting whatsoever.

A spokesperson for Harvey Weinstein told ABC News the following in a statement late Monday night:

"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. 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."

ABC News' Lawrence Dechant contributed to this story.

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