olivia hussey Y leonard whiting they were just teenagers when they electrified audiences in the 1968 version of “Romeo and Juliet,” directed by Franco Zeffirelli. The film was a hit and was nominated for four Academy Awards, but it also sparked controversy for a bedroom scene that included images of Whiting’s buttocks and Hussey’s bare breasts.
Now in their 70s, Hussey and Whiting filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday, charging Supreme of sexually exploiting them and distributing images of naked adolescent children.
The lawsuit alleges that Zeffirelli… who died in 2019 — assured both actors that there would be no nudity in the film and that they would wear flesh-colored underwear in the bedroom scene. But in the final days of filming, the director reportedly implored them to act nude with body makeup, “or the movie would flop.”
Hussey was 15 at the time and Whiting was 16. According to the complaint, Zeffirelli showed them where the camera would be placed and assured them that they would not be photographed or posted nude on film. The lawsuit alleges that he was being dishonest and that, in fact, Whiting and Hussey were filmed naked without his knowledge.
According to the complaint, Hussey and Whiting have suffered mental anguish and emotional distress in the 55 years since the film’s release, and have also lost job opportunities. Despite their outstanding performances, Hussey and Whiting had very limited acting careers after “Romeo and Juliet.”
They are seeking damages “believed to be in excess of $500 million.”
“Nude images of minors are illegal and should not be posted,” the actors’ attorney, Solomon Gresen, said in an interview. “These were very young, naive kids in the ’60s who didn’t understand what was about to hit them. All of a sudden, they became famous on a level they never expected, and on top of that, they were raped in a way they didn’t know how to handle.”
The lawsuit relies in part on a California law that temporarily suspended the statute of limitations for prior child sexual abuse claims. The courts saw an influx of complaints against the Boy Scouts of America and the Catholic Church, among other organizations, in the days leading up to the December 31 deadline.
Paramount did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
in a interview 2018 With Variety, Hussey defended the nude scene.
“Nobody my age had ever done that before,” he said, adding that Zeffirelli tastefully filmed it. “It was necessary for the movie.”
In another 2018 interview with foxnewshe said that the scene was “taboo” in America, but that nudity was already common in European films at the time.
“It wasn’t that important,” he said. “And Leonard wasn’t shy at all! In the middle of filming, I completely forgot that he had no clothes on.”