Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, stars of 1968 film Romeo and Juliet, sue studio over film’s nude scene 55 years later

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Reported By:| Edited By: |Source: |Updated: Jan 04, 2023, 01:21 PM IST

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, stars of the iconic 1968 English film Romeo and Juliet, have sued Paramount Studios, accusing them of sexually exploiting them and distributing nude images of adolescent children. The lawsuit’s bone of contention is the film’s infamous nude scene, which was filmed when both actors were minors.

Romeo and Juliet, directed by the late Franco Zeffirelli, was relased in 1968 when Whiting was 16 and Hussey 15. Although the film was a commercial and critical success with four Oscar nominations, it courted controversy over a bedroom scene. The said scene showed Whiting’s bare buttocks and Hussey’s breasts.

As per a Variety report, now, 55 years after the film’s release, the stars have filed a lawsuit against the studio in Santa Monica Superior Court. Tony Marinozzi, who is a business manager for both actors, told the publication, “What they were told and what went on were two different things. 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 report states that the actors were allegedly told that there would be no nudity in the film. However, later the director backtracked and pressured them into doing the scene saying otherwise ‘the picture will fail’. Even then, they were said they would not film the actors’ bare bodies, which eventually did happen.

In an interview, the actors’ attorney Solomon Gresen 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.”

Even though 55 years have passed, the lawsuit is valid due to a California law that temporarily suspended the statute of limitations for older claims of child sexual abuse.

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