Paramount is in hot water for its 1968 film “Romeo and Juliet”. The studio is facing a “sexual exploitation” lawsuit of more than $500 million, filed by then-child actors Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting accusing Paramount of disturbing nude images without their knowledge in the 1968 film.
Lawsuit Not Barred By Limitation…
Former “Romeo and Juliet” actors Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting filed a “sexual exploitation” lawsuit against Paramount over a nude scene they say were filmed without their consent. During the 1968 film, Olivia was 15 and Whiting was 16. The suit alleged that the production studio showcased disturbing nude images of the teens – Hussey’s bare breasts were exposed while Whiting’s buttocks were on full display.
The lawsuit claiming more than $500 million in damages was filed in Santa Monica Superior Court. The complaint was filed after Saturday’s deadline ending the “temporary suspension of the state of limitations” for claims regarding child sexual abuse. Therefore, the present lawsuit pertaining to the 1968 film is not barred by limitation.
Director Duped The Child Actors Into Nudity…
Olivia Hussey, who played Romeo and Leonard Whiting, who played Juliet in the Oscar-winning 1968 film claimed in the lawsuit that the movie’s director Zeffirelli (who passed away in 2019) informed the actors that there would be no nudity in the movie. During one scene, the actors were supposed to wear flesh-coloured undergarments.
However, the complaint alleges that “on the day of shooting, Zeffirelli urged the teens to be nude, “or the Picture would fail.” He duped the child actors and even promised that the camera angles would not capture any nudity. But, both Hussey’s breasts and Whiting’s buttocks were on full display.
As a result, the actors suffered diminishing careers, mental anguish and emotional distress. Both the actors are seeking damages “believed to be in excess of $500 million.” Tony Marinozzi, Olivia and Leonard’s manager stated: “At 16, as actors, they took [Zeffirelli’s] 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.”
“Romeo and Juliet”, which was released in 1968, was an instant hit. The movie earned several accolades, such as two Academy Awards (Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design). The movie was also nominated for Best Director and Best Picture. Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey both won Golden Globe Awards for Most Promising Newcomers.
However, the lawsuit brings forward the ugly picture behind the famous movie, which was considered one of the most financially successful film adaptations of a Shakespeare play at the time of its release.
As for the lawsuit, Hussey and whiting attorney, Solomon Gresen stated: “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.”
FYI, the present lawsuit contradicts Hussey’s 2018 statement praising director Zeffirelli for making an artistic decision tastefully. She revealed on the film’s 50th anniversary that nude scene was “needed” for “Romeo and Juliet” and marked a turning point in American cinema.“Nobody my age had done that before,” Hussey spoke about Zeffirelli’s tasteful and artistic decision. And, now this lawsuit! What do you think?