‘Romeo and Juliet’ Stars File a Lawsuit Against Paramount

By Frankie Dulatre

On December 30, 2022 in Santa Monica, California, Romeo and Juliet stars Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting filed a lawsuit against Paramount Pictures for the movie’s nude scene.

The lawsuit includes accusations of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and fraud. Both Hussey and Whiting had put that film’s director, Franco Zeffirelli–who died in 2019–stated to the both of them the film would not include any nude scenes and that the co-stars would wear flesh colored undergarments.

But when filming the bedroom scene, Zeffirelli then said that both of them must get naked or else the movie ‘would fail’. At the time of filming the movie Hussey and Whiting were only 15 and 16 years old. According to Hussey’s and Whiting’s business manager, Tony Marinozzi, the two of them did not have much of a choice when it came to filming the bedroom scene, because of how young they were and that they could only follow what Zeffireli told them to do.

The lawsuit also included that the actors have suffered from mental anguish and emotional distress ever since the film’s release. The both of them also claimed they have lost out on other movie opportunities. Hussey and Whiting are asking for $500,000,000 in damages out of this lawsuit for the pain both of them went through due to the harassment they faced while filming. 

When the lawsuit against Paramount was filed, the son of Franco Zeffirelli, Pippo Zeffirelli, spoke up about the lawsuit. In Entertainment Weekly, Pippo said that the film was ‘far from pornographic’ and that the lawsuit filed against Paramount was ‘embarrassing’: “It is embarrassing to hear that today, 55 years after filming, two elderly actors who owe their notoriety essentially to this film wake up to declare that they have suffered an abuse that has caused them years of anxiety and emotional discomfort”.

Pippo then stated that both actors have given Zeffirelli the praise after the film’s release in the past, and that Hussey had previously defended the film’s nude scene and the director. Pippo does not just think the lawsuit is embarrassing, but useless as well because Whiting did another film for Franco and had no problem about it and the fact that both actors have had a good relationship with Pippo’s father before he had passed. 

So far Paramount Pictures have not said anything about the lawsuits or the claims from Hussey and Whiting.

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