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Romeo and Juliet Stars Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting File Legal Case for Child Abuse Over Nude Scene


Last Updated: January 04, 2023, 11:50 IST

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting in a still from Romeo and Juliet.

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting in a still from Romeo and Juliet.

Olivia was 15 and Leonard was 16 when they shot for Romeo and Juliet. The actors are seeking damages worth USD 500 million in a lawsuit filed recently.

Back in 1968, Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ turned out to be a massive hit. The film has now been mired for a controversy over a bedroom scene which featured nude visuals of the lead stars. The stars recently filed a lawsuit in Santa Monica Superior Court accusing the production house.

The case has been filed for sexually exploiting them, and distributing nude images of adolescent children. The bedroom scene in the movie showed Whting’s buttocks and Hussey’s bare breasts.

The suit stated that, the film’s director, late Franco Zeffirelli, had assured both actors that were would be no nudity in the film as they would wear flesh-colored undergarments in the bedroom scene. But in the final days of filming, the director allegedly implored them to perform in the nude with body makeup, “or the picture would fail.”

It further added, that the director had showed them where the camera would be placed at the set to shoot them and assured them no nudity would be photographed or released in the film. Olivia and Leonard were just teenagers at that time. Now, in their 70s, they have filed the lawsuit.

The business manager of both the actors Tony Marinozzi said, “What they were told and what went on were two different things,” and added, “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.” Hence the stars were filmed nude without their knowledge.

The suit also stated, “Hussey and Whiting have suffered mental anguish and emotional distress in the 55 years since the film’s release, and have also lost out on job opportunities. Despite their breakout performances, Hussey and Whiting had only very limited acting careers after Romeo and Juliet. They are seeking damages believed to be in excess of USD 500 million.”

The actors’ attorney Solomon Gresen said in an interview, “Nude images of minors are unlawful and shouldn’t be exhibited. These were very young naive children in the ’60s 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.”

The production house Paramount is yet to comment on the same.

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