The two stars of 1968’s “Romeo and Juliet” sued Paramount Pictures for more than $500 million over a nude scene in the film shot when they were teens.
Olivia Hussey, then 15 and now 71, and Leonard Whiting, then 16 now 72, filed the suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and fraud.
The film was a major hit at the time that the film came out, and has been shown to generations of high school students since it first came out.
But looking back on the film, the main actors are saying that the film violated both California state and federal laws.
The lawsuit was filed under a California law temporarily suspending the statute of limitations for child sex abuse, which has led to a host of new lawsuits and the revival of many others that were previously dismissed.
Director Franco Zeffirelli, who died in 2019, initially told Hussey and Whiting that they would wear flesh-colored undergarments in the bedroom scene, the suit alleges. But on the morning of the shoot, Zeffirelli told the two that they would wear only body makeup, while still assuring them the camera would be positioned in a way that would not show nudity, according to the suit.
But they were filmed in the nude without their knowledge, in violation of California and federal laws against indecency and the exploitation of children, the suit says.
Zeffirelli told them they must act in the nude “or the Picture would fail” and their careers would be hurt, the suit said. The actors “believed they had no choice but to act in the nude in body makeup as demanded.”
The court filing says the Hussey and Whiting have suffered emotional damage and mental anguish for decades, and that each had careers that did not reflect the success of the movie.
The lawsuit is seeking damages of more than $500 million for the actors’ suffering and the revenue brought in by the film since its release.
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