Romeo and Juliet stars sue Paramount for child abuse over nude scene from 1968 film

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting starred in the 1968’s feature film adaptation of ‘Romeo and Juliet’

Peony Hirwani
Wednesday 04 January 2023 07:23 GMT
Romeo and Juliet- 1996 trailer

Romeo and Juliet stars Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting have filed a lawsuit against Paramount, accusing the production company of sexual harassment, fraud, sexual abuse, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Hussey and Whiting starred in the 1968’s feature film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.

The lawsuit, verified by People, stems from a scene in the movie that showcases nude images of both actors, which were filmed when Hussey and Whiting were allegedly minors.

The complaint alleges that late director Franco Zeffirelli told the lead actors that the film wouldn’t include nudity, but ended up turning on his word.

“What they were told and what went on were two different things,” Tony Marinozzi, a business manager for the actors, told Variety in a statement on Tuesday (3 January). “They trusted Franco. At 16, as actors, they took his lead that he would not violate that trust they had.

“Franco was their friend, and frankly, at 16, what do they do?” Marinozzi added in a statement to the outlet. “There are no options. There was no #MeToo.”

Hussey and Whiting’s attorney Solomon Gresen added: “[The actors] were very young naive children in the sixties who had no understanding of what was about to hit them.

“All of a sudden they were famous at a level they never expected, and in addition they were violated in a way they didn’t know how to deal with.”

Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey at the 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival

The lawsuit states that both actors are seeking compensation “believed to be in excess of $500,000,000” to match the amount the film has earned since 1968.

The Independent has contacted Paramount for comment.

Romeo and Juliet is a 1968 coming-of-age period romantic drama film based on the play of the same name by William Shakespeare.

The film won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design.

It was also nominated for Best Director and Best Picture, making it the last Shakespearean film to date to be nominated for the latter category.

Whiting and Hussey also won a Golden Globe award each for most promising newcomers.

If you are a child and you need help because something has happened to you, you can call the NSPCC free of charge on 0800 1111. You can also call the NSPCC if you are an adult and you are worried about a child, on 0808 800 5000. The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac) offers support for adults on 0808 801 0331.

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