The two lead actors in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 film ‘Romeo and Juliet’ are suing over the nude scene they shot when they were teens.
Olivia Hussey, now 71, and Leonard Whiting, 72, filed a lawsuit on Friday (30.12.22) at the Santa Monica Superior Court, California, accusing Paramount Pictures studio of sexual harassment, fraud, sexual abuse, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Details of the pair’s suit emerged on Wednesday (04.01.23), with the claim stating director Franco – who died at his Rome aged 96 in 2019 – had promised them there would not be any nudity in the film.
It is alleged on the final day of shooting Franco declared the movie would “fail” unless they performed a scene naked in body makeup.
Solomon Gresen, attorney for the pair, said they were “very young naïve children in the ’60s who had no understanding of what was about to hit them”.
Tony Marinozzi, a business manager for the two British actors, said in a statement: “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.”
Olivia and Leonard were 15 and 16 respectively at the time of shooting and it is believed their claim is for more than $500 million (£415 million.)
Their suit apparently relies on a California law that expired on December 31, which temporarily suspended the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse.
The $500 million in damages the pair are said to be seeking matches the amount the film has made since it was released.
Their suit also alleges Franco – nominated for an Academy Award for best director for the film – showed them where the camera would be placed when they were naked, but said no nudity would be filmed or released.
The pair say the scene caused them long-lasting financial, physical and emotional pain, and alleges the film cost them a “lifetime of loss of earnings and other employment benefits and job opportunities”.
Olivia told in 2018 how Franco nicknamed her “Boobs O’Mina” and confessed she was the unrequited love of his life.