More than 50 years after “Romeo and Juliet” was released in cinemas, the two main actors are demanding millions in compensation from the production company. They were only 15 and 16 when it was filmed.
The Franco Zeffirelli Foundation reacted critically to the announcement by actors Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting that they would be demanding millions in compensation from the production company for a nude scene more than 50 years after the theatrical release of “Romeo and Juliet”. “The love scene in Zeffirelli’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is about as far removed from pornography as you can imagine,” the foundation wrote in a press release on Friday.
“Zeffirelli himself has been accused of being reactionary precisely because he consistently spoke out against pornography. The nudity in the film expresses the beauty, the devotion, I would even say the openness of giving to one another. I also believe that the two producers of the film, John Brabourne and Anthony Haveclock-Allan, received clearance from the parents of the two actors prior to filming the scene,” said the Foundation’s President, Pippo Zeffirelli, the director’s adopted son.
Zeffirelli’s foundation is critical
“It is embarrassing to hear that today, 55 years after filming, two elderly actors who largely owe their fame to this film, suddenly declare that they have suffered an abuse of power that has caused them fear and emotional distress for years. So much I know that over the years they have always maintained a relationship of deep gratitude and friendship with Zeffirelli, giving hundreds of interviews in memory of their very happy experience, crowned with worldwide success,” explained Pippo Zeffirelli. He recalls that “Olivia Hussey worked again with Zeffirelli and gave an admirable interpretation of Mary in Jesus of Nazareth. Leonard Whiting even came to Florence for the Maestro’s funeral in February 2020 and brought his testimony to the memorial service in London”.
Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting were only 15 and 16 years old when the 1968 Shakespeare adaptation by Franco Zeffirelli was filmed – i.e. underage. According to the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday, the lawsuit, which has been filed but not yet published in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges that the two were allegedly filmed naked without their knowledge. Both had previously been told that the camera was set up in such a way that no nudity was possible. In addition, both were initially promised skin-colored underwear for love scenes before they are said to have been asked to shoot nude themselves on the day of shooting. Hussey’s breasts and Whiting’s bottom are briefly seen in the drama.
Damage of more than 500 million dollars
The two suffered more than $500 million in damage from alleged sexual abuse, sexual harassment and fraud, given the decades of pain and film revenue. “Romeo and Juliet” was a huge hit at the box office upon release, winning Oscars for cinematography and costume design in 1969. After that, however, the two main actors did not succeed in any major roles. In the lawsuit, the two also state, according to Variety, that they missed out on later engagements because of the scene.