Child Romeo and Juliet actors sue for £400m over nude scene

The two leads from the hit movie are starring in a nude scene in the feature film which was filmed when they were teenagers. Olivia Hussey, who played Juliet when she was 15 and is now 71, and Leonard Whiting, who was 16 when he played Romeo and is now 72, filed the lawsuit earlier this week in Los Angeles County Superior Court. alleging sexual abuse, sexual harassment and fraud.

Previously, Ms. Hussey defended the scene in a 2018 interview with Variety, marking the film’s 50th anniversary.

“No one my age had ever done that before,” he said, adding that the director tastefully filmed it.

“It was necessary for the movie.”

But the new lawsuit was filed under a California law that temporarily suspends the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, which has led to a spate of new lawsuits and the reactivation of many others that were previously dismissed.

And in legal documents, the two actors claim that the film’s director, Franco Zeffirelli, who died in 2019, initially told them they would wear flesh-colored underwear in the bedroom scene that appears at the end of the film and was filmed in the last days of shooting.

But on the morning of the shoot, Zeffirelli allegedly told the two young leads that they would only wear body makeup, while assuring them that the camera would be positioned so as not to show nudity, according to the lawsuit.

However, they were filmed naked without their knowledge, in violation of federal and California laws against indecency and the exploitation of children, the lawsuit claims.

Zeffirelli told them they must act nude “or the film would flop” and their careers would suffer, the lawsuit says.

The actors “believed they had no choice but to perform nude with body makeup as required.”

Mr. Whiting’s bare buttocks and Mrs. Hussey’s bare breasts are shown briefly during the scene.

The film and its theme song were huge hits at the time and have been shown to generations of high school students studying Shakespeare’s work ever since.

Court documents allege that Mr. Hussey and Ms. Whiting suffered emotional damage and mental anguish for decades, and that each had careers that did not reflect the success of the film.

The lawsuit further argues that given the suffering and revenue generated by the film since its release, the actors are entitled to compensation in excess of $500 million.

Paramount Pictures has not yet responded to the lawsuit.

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