‘Sexually exploited’ Romeo and Juliet stars sue studio for $500 million

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting filed a lawsuit in the United States in California against Paramount Studios in Hollywood for “more than $500 million” for child abuse for allegedly being pressured to strip completely naked for the sex scene and then the use and distribution of the filmed material. The stars resorted to a temporary suspension due to time constraints due to historical cases. Their lawyer, Solomon Gresen, said: “These were very young, naive children in the 1960s who didn’t understand what was about to hit them…they were raped in a way they didn’t know how to handle.”

The lawsuit alleges mental anguish and potential job loss for 55 years since the film was released, alleging that the stars were misled and then pressured into entering the picture. They were told they would wear flesh-colored boy suits, but then Zefferelli asked them to strip “or the movie would flop.”

Hussey and Whiting allege that they were told where the camera would be placed and that no nudity would be filmed or used, but the full film included footage of Hussey’s breasts and Whiting’s buttocks.

Tony Marinozzi, their business manager, said: “What they were told and what happened were two different things. They trusted Franco. At 16, as actors, they took his initiative that he would not violate the trust they had.”

Marinozzis added: “Franco was his friend, and frankly, at 16, what do they do? There are no options. There was no #MeToo.”

Hussey has previously spoken openly about being cast so young and about that sex scene, which caused a stir in conservative America at the time.

The actress said she was “painfully shy” at that age, adding: “I had never been with anyone before shooting the movie.”

She said: “But Leonard and I held hands, we kissed… I guess we saw each other as boyfriend and girlfriend, but young. It wasn’t like it could be today. A 15-year-old girl today.” He’s much more promiscuous than we were.”

Whiting himself described his first reactions to seeing Hussey at her first auditions in 1967: “It was in a basement studio. I just saw her. They say you can’t believe in love at first sight, but you can because I thought she just It was absolutely delicious, like a big cream pie.”

Hussey was photographed at a recent fan expo this past Halloween, posing in front of a poster for the film, for which she remains famous to this day.

In 2018, she defended the sex scene to Variety in artistic terms, but also said that both she and Whiting were comfortable filming it at the time.

Hussey said, “Nobody my age had ever done that before… It was necessary for the movie.”

The same year, the Argentine-born actor also said that while such a scene was still “taboo” in the US, in other parts of European cinema it was not unusual.

She said, “It wasn’t a big deal, and Leonard wasn’t shy at all! In the middle of filming, I totally forgot he had no clothes on.”

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