Sexually Exploited As Teens, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Actors Sue For Controversial Nude Bedroom Scene

source: TODAY

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting were only teenagers – 15 and 16 years old, respectively – when they gained widespread attention for their roles in the 1968 film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.

Now that the two actors are in their 70’s, they have filed a lawsuit against Paramount Pictures for allegedly sexually exploiting them for a controversial bedroom scene in the film that included glimpses of Whiting’s buttocks and Hussey’s bare breasts. 

source: BBC

The director of Romeo and Juliet, Franco Zeffirelli, initially reassured both actors that there would be no nudity and that they would dress in flesh-coloured underwear for the bedroom scene. The director later changed his mind and insisted that they act in the nude while using body makeup, claiming that if they didn’t, “the project would fail.”

Zeffirelli even showed the actors where the camera would be positioned to further persuade them that no nudity would be captured or released in the final cut of the film. However, the lawsuit claims that he was lying and that Whiting and Hussey were unaware they were being filmed while nude.

Hussey and Whiting allegedly lost out on professional prospects and had mental suffering and emotional distress in the 55 years since the movie’s debut.

Despite their impressive performances, both actors only had limiting acting careers after Romeo and Juliet

source: IMDb

The two are seeking damages “believed to be in excess of US$500 million (approximately RM2.2 billion).”

“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. Suddenly, they were famous at a level they never expected, and in addition they were violated in a way they did not know how to deal with,” said their attorney, Solomon Gresen, in an interview.