Romeo and Juliet : cast sues over nudity in 1968 film

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whit­ing, who shocked audi­ences with Fran­co Zef­firelli’s Romeo and Juli­et in 1968, were still teenagers. The film was a hit and was nom­i­nat­ed for four Acad­e­my Awards, but it also caused some con­tro­ver­sy when it fea­tured Whit­ing’s but­tocks and Hussey’s bare breasts in a bed­room scene.

Hussey and Whit­ing, now in their 70s, filed a law­suit in Los Ange­les Supe­ri­or Court on Fri­day, accus­ing Para­mount of sex­u­al­ly exploit­ing them and dis­trib­ut­ing nude images of teenage girls.

The law­suit alleges that Zef­firelli, who died in 2019, assured both actors that there would be no nudi­ty in the film and that they would wear flesh-col­ored under­wear in the bed­room scenes. 

How­ev­er, on the last day of film­ing, the direc­tor alleged­ly implied that they should per­form nude with body make­up. “Oth­er­wise, this movie will fail.”

Zef­firelli report­ed­ly showed Hussey, then 15, and Whit­ing, 16, where the cam­eras were and promised that no nudi­ty would be filmed or shown. Zef­firelli did­n’t tell the truth, claim­ing Whit­ing and Hussey were filmed nude with­out their knowledge.

Accord­ing to the law­suit, Hussey and Whit­ing suf­fered men­tal and emo­tion­al dis­tress and lost employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties 55 years after the film was released. Hussey and Whit­ing gave excel­lent per­for­mances, but their act­ing careers after “Romeo and Juli­et” were very limited.

He claims the dam­ages “may be in excess of $500 million.”

“Nude images of minors are ille­gal and should not be shown,” the actor’s attor­ney, Solomon Gre­sen, said in an inter­view. “The 1960s was a time when chil­dren were young and naive, and they didn’t know what was going to hap­pen. Sud­den­ly, they were famous on a lev­el they didn’t expect, and the vio­lence they didn’t know how to deal with. It was.”

The law­suit is based on a Cal­i­for­nia law that tem­porar­i­ly sus­pends the statute of lim­i­ta­tions on alle­ga­tions of sex­u­al abuse of old­er chil­dren. With the Dec. 31 dead­line approach­ing, courts have been inun­dat­ed with com­plaints against Boy Scouts, the Catholic Church and others.

Para­mount did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to a request for comment.

In a 2018 inter­view with Vari­ety, Hussey defend­ed the nude scene.

“No one at my age would have done that,” Zef­firelli said with a taste. “It was just what the movie needed”

In anoth­er Fox News inter­view in 2018, he said that while the scene was “taboo” in Amer­i­ca, nudi­ty was already com­mon in Euro­pean cin­e­ma at the time.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.