(NOTE CONTENT) Director Franco Zeffirelli‘s 1968 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet is remembered as an Oscar-winning classic, but now it’s at the center of a multimillion lawsuit against Paramount Pictures from its two leads.
Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, who played the famously star-crossed lovers, were respectively 15 and 16 when they filmed the movie. Variety reports the two actors are now suing the production for child abuse, claiming they were deceived into filming a nude scene.
The actors, now in their 70s, claimed the director, who died in 2019, assured them that Whiting’s bare buttocks and Hussey’s breasts wouldn’t be visible on film. The pair claim the filmmaker assured them their modesty would be protected by flesh-colored garments and, when those were scrapped, certain camera angles.
“What they were told and what went on were two different things,” their manager, Tony Marinozzi, alleged, according to the trade. “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.”
The pair also claimed they experienced “mental anguish” and “emotional distress” in the decades since the movie debuted.
According to the trade, the actors’ attorney, Solomon Gresen, said in a statement, “Nude images of minors are unlawful and shouldn’t be exhibited. These were very young naive children” who were “violated in a way they didn’t know how to deal with.”
The pair are reportedly seeking damages “believed to be in excess of $500 million.”
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