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Romeo and Juliet: Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting sue over 1968 film’s ‘sexual abuse’

Romeo and Juliet’s Oscar-winning 1968 cast members are suing Paramount Pictures for alleged sexual abuse related to a sequence in which they participated in naked behaviour. When they made the movie, Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey were both young adults.

The English performers, who are now in their 70s, claim in a recent court case that director Franco Zeffirelli persuaded them to do naked scenes despite earlier promises that they wouldn’t have to. The claim has not received a public response from Paramount yet.

Based on the hardship they claim to have gone through and the money the movie has made since its premiere, the two actors are requesting damages totaling more than $500 million (£417 million).

They assert that Zeffirelli, who passed away in 2019, promised them at first that they would wear underwear with a flesh tone in the bedroom scene.

However, they claim the director informed them they would only wear body makeup the morning of the shoot and assured them the camera would be placed so as to not capture nudity.

Hussey’s exposed breasts and Whiting’s bare buttocks were briefly displayed during the scene in the finished movie.

According to their lawsuit, Zeffirelli instructed them to perform in the naked position “otherwise the picture would fail” and harm their careers. The performers “felt they had no choice but to perform in the body painted as required”

Whiting was then aged 16 and is now 72, while Hussey was 15 when the film was shot and is now 71.

The two are suing Paramount for fraud, sexual assault, and harassment. The Hollywood studio is charged in the lawsuit of sexually abusing the two young performers and disseminating pictures of young youngsters in their underwear.

According to the court document, Whiting and Hussey have endured years of emotional distress and mental suffering as a result of how they were handled. The movie was a tremendous hit when it came out and has since been viewed by countless students who are studying the Shakespeare play.

It was nominated for four Oscars—two of which were for best costume design and cinematography—including best director and best picture.

Picture Courtesy: Google/images are subject to copyright

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