Actors are suing Paramount over ‘Romeo and Juliet’ nude scene

Updated on 01/04/2023 13:18

  • Actors Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting have sued film production company Paramount Pictures for hundreds of millions in damages over a nude scene filmed more than 50 years ago.

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The depiction of bare breasts and bottoms of the two then minors in the 1968 version of “Romeo and Juliet” by Italian director Franco Zeffirelli was “sexual exploitation” by Paramount, the two argue in their lawsuit filed in Santa Monica, California.

Hussey, then 15, and then 16-year-old Whiting were seen briefly nude in the later award-winning film. The lawsuit alleges that Zeffirelli, who died in 2019, talked them into the scene and told them the film would fail without the scene. In addition, the director had previously assured that the actors would not actually be naked, but would be dressed in flesh-colored underwear.

Actors endured mental anguish and emotional pain

The defendants were “dishonest” and secretly filmed the “naked or partially naked minors,” the lawsuit further states. The two actors are seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. They reason that they have endured mental anguish and emotional pain in the five and a half decades since the film’s release and have had limited professional success as a result of the shooting.

Hussey and Whiting won Golden Globes for their roles in Romeo and Juliet. Hussey last defended the nude scene in the film in an interview with Variety magazine in 2018, stressing that Zeffirelli did it tastefully. “She was necessary for the film,” she told the magazine at the time.

The actors’ lawsuit was filed on the last day of a rule that temporarily suspended the statute of limitations for child molestation in California.