Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whitingstars in the 1968 version of “Romeo and Juliet” directed by Franco Zeffirelli, filed a lawsuit against Paramount Studios for sexual exploitation and distribution of images of naked adolescent childrenas a result of the controversial scenes that they had to film for that production when they were barely 15 and 16 years old respectively.
The Santa Monica-based lawsuit argues that the film’s director, who died in 2019, had previously assured them that there would be no nudity in a controversial bedroom scene, but that once on the film set he convinced them to remove their clothes to those pictures.
Zeffirelli had told the protagonists that they would wear a flesh-colored mesh, but then changed his plans and to convince them he showed them where he would place the cameras and promised not to film their private parts, according to what Tony Marinozzi, Hussey’s representative, told Hollywood media. and Whiting. However, in the final scene you can see the buttocks of the actor who played Romeo and the breasts of young Juliet.
“What they were told and what happened were two different things. They trusted Franco. At 16, as actors, they took his initiative 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,” the representative said.
The lawsuit alleges that the protagonists suffered mental and emotional anguish in the 55 years that elapsed since the film’s premiere and that because of that scene they lost job opportunities.
Before the press, the lawyer for the actors, Solomon Gresen, pointed out that “the nude images of minors are illegal and should not be posted“.
“These were very young, naive kids in the ’60s who didn’t understand what was about to hit them. Suddenly, they became famous on a level they never expected, and on top of that, they were raped in ways they didn’t know how to handle.” .
It happens that the film had a high impact at the time of its premiere and was made with several Oscar nominations.
Interestingly, in 2018, Olivia Hussey had defended the nude scene in an interview with Variety, stating that “it was necessary for the film” and had highlighted Zeffirelli’s “good taste” in the final cuts.
The complaint 55 years after the events occurred was made possible by the law applied in California that temporarily suspended the time limits for accusations of this type.