February 5, 2023

According to the lawsuit, Zeffirelli told the actors that no nudity would be filmed and that they would wear flesh-colored undergarments during the bedroom scene, but on the morning of shooting he told them that “they have to act nude or the picture would fail.”

The director “showed them where the cameras would be set up so that no nudity would be filmed or photographed for use in Romeo & Juliet or anywhere,” the lawsuit said.

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 Romeo and Juliet.

The actors sued just before the end of a three-year period in California that temporarily lifted the statute of limitations so people who said they were sexually assaulted as children could file civil suits. In recent days, the state has seen a flurry of lawsuits under its statute, called the California Child Victims Act, before the term expired on Saturday.

The lawsuit concerns, among other things, sexual harassment and child sexual abuse.

The Franco Zeffirelli Foundation, a non-profit organization in Italy dedicated to the director’s legacy, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In her 2018 memoir The girl on the balconyHussey recalls filming the scene, writing that after a makeup artist approached her to apply full-body makeup, she confronted Zeffirelli after having a “minor panic attack”, and he assured her that she would be wearing a nightgown in the scene wear.

“‘Although things are, you know, moving in a different direction, I want you to be ready,’” Hussey recalled the director’s statement.

The scene was filmed on a closed set, Hussey recalled in the memoir, meaning only essential crew members were allowed to attend, but there was one incident where a “dirty old man” had to be removed from the crew, she wrote. .

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In interviews around the time of the memoir’s publication, Hussey had expressed some approval of the way the scene was filmed, recounting Variety it was shot with taste. She told Fox News that “it wasn’t that big of a deal” and that the film’s production crew had become “big family.”

John C. Manly, a longtime attorney representing plaintiffs alleging sexual assault, said Hussey’s statements as an adult would likely make the case more difficult to win.

Marinozzi said that Hussey’s interviews about the scene showed her trying to “get a handle” on the situation and expressed her pride for the film and her performance, although, he said, she was never proud of that scene.

“They did what they had to do because they were professionals,” he said.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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