Romeo & Juliet stars suing Paramount over nude scene

leonard whiting, olivia hussey, romeo and juliet
Paramount sued by Romeo & Juliet stars over nudityGetty Images

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, the stars of 1968's Romeo and Juliet, are suing studio Paramount over nude scenes featured in the film.

The actors, who are now in their 70s, were 15 and 16 at the time of filming. Part of their suit is related to the recording and distributing of nude images of adolescents, specifically their bare breasts and buttocks.

The duo allege that director Franco Zeffirelli, who died in 2019, assured them that there would be no actual nudity in the film, and that they would wear flesh-coloured garments for the love-making scenes. They claimed he purportedly then changed his mind and insisted they film the scene naked or risk the film's failure, but told them their nudity wouldn't actually be recorded or shown in the final cut. That did not happen.

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"What they were told and what went on were two different things," their business manager Tony Marinozzi said in a statement (via Variety). "They trusted Franco. At 16, as actors, they took his lead 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."

Hussey and Whiting's attorney Solomon Gresen added: "Nude images of minors are unlawful and shouldn’t be exhibited. These were very young naive children in the ’60s who had no understanding of what was about to hit them.

"All of a sudden they were famous at a level they never expected, and in addition they were violated in a way they didn’t know how to deal with."

Hussey previous gave interviews about the movie in 2018, including one with Variety where she said of the nudity in the film: "Nobody my age had done that before. It was needed for the film."

The duo are seeking damages of more than $500 million. Paramount has not publicly acknowledged the suit at the time of writing.

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