Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey were the teenage stars of the 1968 film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic play Romeo And Juliet. Both stars filed a lawsuit against Paramount regarding their nude scenes in the movie on Friday, December 30. The actors, who were both teenagers when filming the movie, are suing the studio for sexually exploiting them and distributing nude images of adolescent children, per Variety. Their lawsuit comes following a California law, which suspends the statute of limitations for claims of child sexual abuse. Find out more about Leonard, 72, and the lawsuit here.
1. Leonard and Olivia said they were both told there would be no nudity in the film.
Leonard was 16 when he took part in the movie, and Olivia, now 71, was 15. The lawsuit claims that director Franco Zeffirelli, who died in 2019 at 96, had initially told both stars that they would wear nude undergarments in the controversial bedroom scene, but later begged them to film naked with body makeup. The lawsuit also says that they were told that no nudity would be included in the movie, and they wouldn’t be filmed nude, but it was. “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,” their manager Tony Marinozzi told Variety. The two stars are seeking up to $500 million in damages.
2. Leonard mostly retired from acting in the 1970s
Before being cast as Romeo, Leonard had appeared in a variety of TV roles, with his first part coming in 1965’s The Legend of Young Dick Turpin. Some of his other TV parts included on The Magical World of Disney and Laughter from the Whitehall. After Romeo And Juliet, he was cast in a few more movie and TV roles, including Frankenstein: The True Story, and 1975’s Rachel’s Man. After the 1975 film, he rarely worked on-screen. His only roles after 1975 include providing the voice for a character in the animated series The Dreamstone in 1990, and a 2015 film.
3. He was also a stage actor
While his last on-screen film role for 40 years was Rachel’s Man in 1975, Leonard did continue acting for the stage for a little bit longer. He played the Pharaoh in a 1978 production of the classic musical Joseph And The Technicolor Dream Coat, which ran until 1979, per TheatreGold. The production was also included on the BBC.
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