The Margin: ‘Romeo & Juliet’ actors suing Paramount for sexual exploitation over 1968 movie’s teen nude scene

by | Jan 5, 2023 | Stock Market

Can you have a #MeToo moment decades later? A just-filed suit against a major studio in Los Angeles may be the first big test of revisiting Hollywood exploitation from years past in a new era that is providing intimacy coordinators on set to better choreograph actor safety and, generally, aims to protect especially young professionals or nonconsenting participants from the content of explicit scenes, heavy subject matter and more.

Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey were 17 and 15 years old, respectively, when they took on the lead roles in the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli film adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” for which they allege, a highly controversial nude scene made it to the final cut, and included bare breasts, without their knowledge. Both actors are now in their 70s and allege that Paramount Studios, part of Paramount Global
PARA,
-0.70%,
engaged in fraud, sexual abuse and sexual harassment, according to a complaint filed late last year in state Superior Court in Los Angeles County, The Wall Street Journal reported. The complaint seeks $500 million in damages.

“Paramount was ‘repackaging what is essentially pornography.’ ”

— Legal complaint filed by 1968 “Romeo & Juliet” actors Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey

Zeffirelli, who died in 2019, told the actors they would appear in flesh-colored clothing in a bedroom scene, according to the complaint. But once shooting commenced, Zeffirelli asked them to film completely nude and then told the actors they would wear body makeup with the camera positioned in a way that wouldn’t show their nude bodies in the film, the lawsuit said.  Paramount was “repackaging what is essentially pornography,” the complaint said.  In fact, it is because the footage, of teenagers, can be viewed over and over that elevates the controversy, the suit says. “The knowing and repeated use of sexual images of minor children is the worst of behaviors in our society and must be eradicated,” the charge says. “Romeo & Juliet” received critical acclaim and earned four Academy Award nominations — including for Best Picture and Best Director. Decades later, it is often still shown in high school English classes to supplement the play.

Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey at a 2018 festival playing 1968’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

Getty Images

Article Attribution | Read More at Article Source

Share This