In the 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet, Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting did a hot scene together. The movie was directed by Franco Zeffirelli.
Even though the movie was a huge hit at the time, there was a big fuss about a bedroom scene in which Whiting’s buttocks and Hussey’s skimpy clothes were shown.
Hussey and Whiting, who are both now in their 70s, sued Paramount on Friday in Santa Monica Superior Court for sexually exploiting them.
According to the lawsuit, director Zeffirelli, who died in 2019, told the actors that they would not be naked in the movie. He also made sure that the actors in the bedroom scene wore underwear that was the same color as their skin.
But in the last days of filming, it is said that the director told them, “If you don’t act naked with body paint, the Picture will fail.”
Hussey was 15 and Whiting was 16 at the time. The complaint says that Zeffirelli also showed them where the camera would be and told them that no nakedness would be photographed or shown in the movie.
The lawsuit says that the person who made the movie lied and that Whiting and Hussey were recorded naked without their permission.
“What they were told and what went on were two different things,” said Tony Marinozzi, who is a business manager for both actors.
“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.”
As per the complaint both the actors went through mental and emotional distress in 55 years and have lost out on many opportunities.
They are seeking damages “believed to be in excess of $500 million.”
“Nude images of minors are unlawful and shouldn’t be exhibited,” said the actors’ attorney, Solomon Gresen, in an interview.
“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.”
However, in a 2018 interview with Variety, Hussey defended the nude scene saying, “Nobody my age had done that before,”
she further added that Zeffirelli shot it tastefully. “It was needed for the film.”
In another 2018 interview with Fox News, she said that the scene was “taboo” in America, but that nudity was already common in European films at the time.
“It wasn’t that big of a deal,” she said. “And Leonard wasn’t shy at all! In the middle of shooting, I just completely forgot I didn’t have clothes on.”