Actors in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 blockbuster ‘Romeo and Juliet‘ are suing Paramount Pictures over a nude scene in the movie. After 55 years, Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting are suing Paramount. They claim that it is over the fact that they were just 15 and 16 respectively when the Shakespeare adaptation hit theaters. The stars have alleged sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and fraud. The lawsuit mentions that Zeffirelli told the child actors to wear flesh-colored underwear for an intimate bedroom scene.
However, the plan changed right before the shot the next morning. Zeffirelli told the co-stars that they would now only be wearing body makeup. But the camera would be placed in a way that will not capture the nudity. He reportedly claimed that the scene has to be performed with no clothes “or the picture would fail.” Director Franco Zeffirelli passed away in 2019. The ‘Romeo and Juliet’ stars filed the suit with Santa Monica’s Superior Court.
‘Romeo and Juliet’ stars seeing $500 million in damages
The two allege in the lawsuit that even though the camera did not capture the nudity, they were nude while filming the scene. They said it was “without their knowledge” or consent. This is in direct violation of California and federal laws against indecency and the exploitation of children. Hence, suing Paramount Pictures for a massive $500 million for the mental anguish and negative impacts they have suffered over the years.
The actors adhered to the altered plan as they “believed they had no choice but to act in the nude in body makeup as demanded.” In the lawsuit, the actors are entitled to damages of more than $500m post the suffering and the revenue brought in by the film since its release. Moreover, Whiting’s bare buttocks and Hussey’s bare breasts can be seen in the final shot briefly. Paramount Pictures has not yet responded.
Solomon Gresen, the actors’ attorney said, “Nude images of minors are unlawful and shouldn’t be exhibited. These were very young naive children in the ’60s who had no understanding of what was about to hit them. All of a sudden they were famous at a level they never expected, and in addition they were violated in a way they didn’t know how to deal with. Tony Marinozzi, their business manager said, “What [the actors] were told and what went on were two different things. They trusted Franco. At 16, as actors, they look 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.”
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