They are suing for the sexual exploitation of minors
“Romeo and Juliet” stars want half a billion from the film studio
The two main actors are suing Paramount Studios for being forced to perform nude scenes on the set of Romeo and Juliet as minors. It’s at least half a billion dollars.
Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey starred in the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet. Now they’re suing the studio.
The first screen version of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” became a hit in 1968 and received four Oscar nominations. But 55 years later, the film could cost Paramount Studios very dearly. The two main actors Olivia Hussey (71) and Leonard Whiting (72) have now sued the Hollywood studio for “at least 500 million dollars” in damages – because they were forced to have a sex scene without a cover when they were minors.
The lawsuit was filed in Santa Monica Superior Court on New Year’s Eve and seeks to charge Paramount Studio with “sexual harassment,” “sexual abuse,” and “deliberate causing emotional harm.” Hussey and Whiting claim that the late Italian director Franco Zeffirelli (1923-2019) promised them before shooting that there would be no nude scenes. But on the last day of shooting, Zeffirelli suddenly presented the then 15-year-old Juliet actress and her 16-year-old screen Romeo with a fait accompli: “He said that the film would be a flop if we didn’t do the love scene naked with body make-up would turn -up.”
Controversy attracted more viewers to the cinema
Tony Marinozzi, manager of the two British actors, said in a statement to Variety: “Olivia and Leonard saw Franco as a fatherly friend. He badly betrayed her trust. But at the time there were no options for her to do anything about it. No #MeToo.” Hussey’s bare breasts and Whiting’s exposed bottom caused controversy in America, but it only drew more viewers to the cinemas.
Whitings and Hussey’s attorney, Solomon Gresen, said: “Paramount knew that nudity of minors was illegal. My clients were sexually exploited and suffered serious consequential damage.» The lawsuit alleges that Hussey and Whiting suffered long-term emotional damage — which severely curtailed their acting careers after their breakthrough roles in Romeo and Juliet.
The lawsuit was filed after more than five decades because California lifted the statute of limitations for sexual assault of minors for a year in 2021. (cth)