Roughly about five decades later, the lead cast of 1968’s Romeo and Juliet is back in the news again. This time around, it’s pertaining to a legal controversy. Actors Olivia Hussey, 71, and Leonard Whiting, 72, have sued Paramount Pictures, the movie’s production company, over a teen nude scene, for reportedly $500 million. Hussey and Whiting were aged 15 and 16 respectively at the time of filming the movie.
The lawsuit suggests that the young actors were sexually abused and harassed while shooting for the film. They further alleged that director Franco Zeffirelli, who passed on in 2019, had forced them into comprising and adhering to his instructions.
The actors averred how Zeffirelli initially suggested that they’d be wearing nude-hued costumes while filming bedroom scenes, but eventually changed his stance on the day of the shoot and stated that they’d only have makeup on their bodies.
Turns out, the naive young actors obliged without realizing that the whole arrangement was a direct violation of the federal and Californian laws of indecency and exploitation of children.
The movie features parts where Hussey’s breasts and Whiting’s buttocks are shown for brief moments. While the film turned out to be a major hit, the traumatic episode continued to haunt the actors for years.
Fast forward to today, Hussey and Whiting believe they are entitled to around $500 million for the damages caused.
Paramount Pictures is yet to comment on the controversy.
Lead Image: Paramount Pictures