'Romeo and Juliet' cast Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting sue Paramount Pictures over 1968 'sexual harassment' film's


Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey were 16 and 15 when Romeo and Juliet were filmed.

The stars of the 1968 Oscar-winning film "Romeo and Juliet" are suing Paramount Pictures for sexual abuse over nude scenes in which they appeared.

Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey were teenagers when they made this movie.

In a new lawsuit, the British actor, now in his 70s, claims director Franco Zeffirelli encouraged him to do nude scenes.

Paramount has yet to formally respond to the allegations.

The two actors are seeking over $500 million (£417 million) in damages based on the suffering they have experienced and the income the film has generated since its release.

They claim Zeffirelli died in 2019 and was the first to say that he would wear flesh-colored underwear for bedroom scenes.

However, they claim they were told by the director to wear only body makeup on the morning of the shoot while making sure the camera was positioned so as not to show nudity.

Whiting and Hussey are now 72 and 71 respectively.

The final film briefly showed Whiting's bare butt and Hussey's bare breasts during a scene.

Zeffirelli said they had to act naked, saying, "Otherwise the picture would fail," claiming it would hurt their careers.

Whiting was 16 at the time and is now 72, and Hussey was 15 at the time of filming and is now 71.

The pair sued Paramount for sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and fraud.

The lawsuit accuses a Hollywood studio of sexually exploiting two young actors and distributing nude images of them in their youth.

According to court filings, Whiting and Hussey suffered decades of emotional damage and mental distress as a result of the treatment they received.

The film was a massive success at the time and was shown to generations of students studying Shakespeare's plays.

It was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Director and Best Picture, and won two for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in Santa Monica Superior Court under California law. California law has temporarily suspended the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, and lawsuits generally cannot be filed after a certain period.

The suspension has resulted in many new lawsuits and the reopening of many other previously dismissed cases.

The film was nominated for four Oscars and won two for cinematography and costume design.

Tony Marinozzi, the two actors' business manager, told Variety, "What they were told and what happened afterward were two different things.

"They trusted Franco. At 16, they guided him as an actor so that Franco would not betray their trust. Franco was their friend. Frankly, what will you do when you turn 16?

"Nude images of minors are illegal and should not be published," attorney Solomon Green said in a statement.

"These were very young, naive kids in their 60s who didn't understand what was going to hit them.

"Suddenly, they were famous on a level they never expected, and they were in danger in ways they didn't know how to deal with."

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