Romeo and Juliet the well-known classic play written by William Shakespeare, is a tragic love story about two young people from feuding families who fall in love and secretly get married.
The 1968 film version of Romeo and Juliet was directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starred Leonard Whiting as Romeo and Olivia Hussey as Juliet. It was a critically acclaimed and popular film, and it won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography. The film is known for its beautiful locations, sumptuous costumes, and faithful adaptation of Shakespeare’s play. It is considered one of the best film adaptations of Romeo and Juliet and is often used in classrooms to introduce students to the play.
The main actors were teenagers at the time, Hussey was 15 and Whiting 16 and they are now suing Paramount for alleging sexual abuse, sexual harassment, fraud and the distribution of nude images of children. “Paramount owed a duty to protect their minor children employees from child and sexual exploitation,” states the lawsuit.
The Italian director Franco Zeffirelli, who died in 2019, initially assured the two there will be no nudity and that they will “wear flesh colored undergarments during the bedroom/love scene.” However, later the actors, who were minors, were told “they must act in the nude or the Picture would fail,” and were mislead about the camera’s position, being filmed naked without their knowledge. Therefore, Whiting now 72 and Hussey now 71, are seeking damages “believed to be in excess of $500 million.”
The lawsuit was filed in Santa Monica Superior Court under a California law that temporarily suspended the statute of limitations for older claims of child sexual abuse. Representatives for neither Hussey and Whiting, nor for Paramount did respond to media‘s request for comment.