Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey are suing Paramount Pictures, which produced “Romeo and Juliet” for sexual harassment and fraud.
On January 3rd, a report from media outlet People revealed that Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, who co-starred in the 1968 film “Romeo and Juliet”, have filed a complaint against Paramount Pictures over nude scenes in the movie.
According to legal documents obtained by People, Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting sued the production company of “Romeo and Juliet” in the Santa Monica Superior Court in California. The lawsuit includes accusations of sexual abuse, fraud, sexual harassment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The suit stems from a scene in the film that included nude images of the two when they were at age 15 and 16, respectively.
In their complaint, Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting claimed that late director Franco Zeffirelli had told them that no nudity will be included in the film. Nude clothing was supposed to be used for the scene in question, but they were suddenly forced to perform in nude on the very last day of filming, the two actors said.
They also allege that the director lied and that they were filmed naked without their knowledge.
On the other hand, a business manager for Hussey and Whiting, told media outlet Variety that, “What they were told and what went on were two different things”. “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? There are no options. There was no #MeToo,” he also added.
Meanwhile, Solomon Gressen, who acts as Hussey and Whiting’s lawyer, told Variety that as “young and naive children in the ‘60s”, the two actors had no idea about what was about to hit them.
“They were violated in a way they didn’t know how to deal with”, Gressen also stated, adding that both suffered from “physical and emotional pain, along with extreme and severe mental anguish and emotional distress” as well as “a lifetime of loss of earnings and other employment benefits and job opportunities.”
With this lawsuit, Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting are seeking compensation estimated to be “in excess of $500 million USD”, based on the movie’s earnings since its 1968 release.
Finally, Variety stated that the lawsuit partly relies on a California law that temporarily suspended the statute of limitations for older claims of child sexual abuse.