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Romeo And Juliet stars sue Paramount over 'exploitative' nude scene

Romeo And Juliet stars sue Paramount over 'exploitative' nude scene

The actors were 15 and 16 years old at the time.

The stars of Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet, namely Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey, are levying legal action against Paramount Pictures for a nude sex scene between the two actors when they were teenagers.

Released in 1968, Romeo and Juliet was the most financially successful film adaptation of a Shakespeare play in history and met with acclaim, securing wins for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design at the Academy Awards. Whiting and Hussey also received Golden Globe Awards for Most Promising Newcomers, and they were 16 and 15 years old respectively.

However, the lawsuit filed on Friday in Santa Monica Superior Court states that director Zeffirelli misled the actors over the use of nudity in the film. Zeffirelli apparently assured Whiting and Hussey that there would be no nudity and they would wear flesh-coloured undergarments in the sex scene, but went back on his word. The director said that they needed to act with no clothes on at all or the film would fail, and he showed them where the camera was positioned to prove to them that no actual nudity would be in frame.

“What they were told and what went on were two different things,” said Whiting and Hussey's business manager Tony Marinozzi in a statement to Variety. “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 suit seeks damages in excess of $500 million for the mental anguish, emotional distress and impact on the two actors' careers. “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,” explained attorney Solomon Gresen in an interview.

In the past, Hussey described the sex scene as necessary and “wasn't a big deal,” but has also praised the #MeToo movement and expressed retrospective disgust that she was given diet pills by the producers because she might have been “too curvy” for the role of Juliet.

Featured Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

Topics: TV And Film, Real Life, no article matching