The two teen actors that starred in a 1968 film version of Romeo & Juliet are suing film studio Paramount for child abuse, over 50 years on from when the film came out.
Romeo & Juliet was a success and was nominated for four Oscars, but the two actors are taking legal action over a nude scene in which they claim they never consented to when they were both under age.
Both actors, now in their 70s, are suing Paramount for sexually exploiting them and distributing nude images of adolescents. The actors allege the director told them they would appear in flesh-coloured underwear in the film but changed his mind later in the process.
Leonard Whiting’s buttocks and Olivia Hussey’s breasts are exposed in the film, and both accusers claim they believe they were filmed in the nude without their knowledge.
“What they were told and what went on were two different things,” Tony Marinozzi, business manager for the actors, told the publication. “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.”
Romeo & Juliet actors Hussey and Whiting both claim to have suffered mental anguish following the release of the film and both say they lost out on job opportunities. Variety reports that they are seeking damages in the region of $500 million.
However, in a 2018 interview with Fox News Hussey defended the scene, saying: “It wasn’t that big of a deal,… And Leonard wasn’t shy at all! In the middle of shooting, I just completely forgot I didn’t have clothes on.”
They are the latest actors to claim a historic #MeToo instance of sexual abuse. Over the summer former Bond girl Marguerite LeWars alleged that Dr. No director Terrence Young sexually abused her during the shoot.
Hundreds of #MeToo cases have surfaced since the movement blew up just over five years ago, following a landmark article published about Harvey Weinstein on the New York Times.
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