On Tuesday, former actors Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting filed a lawsuit against Paramount Pictures in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. According to the lawsuit, the two were minors when they starred in the 1968 film, Romeo and Juliet, and allege they suffered sexual abuse and exploitation as a result of a scene filmed in the nude without their knowledge.
The two actors claim they were told they would wear flesh-colored undergarments in the scene, but were later informed they would be wearing only body makeup during the shoot, by director Franco Zeffirelli. They go on to allege that their careers would be hurt and the movie would fail if they did not comply with the request. They are now seeking damages of more than $500 million.
An email seeking comment from representatives of Paramount was not immediately returned. Hussey and Whiting have stated that they have suffered emotional damage and mental anguish for decades since the filming of the movie, and as a result, their post-Romeo and Juliet careers did not reflect the success of the film.
In 2018, however, Hussey defended the scene to Variety, saying it was necessary for the film and that Zeffirelli shot it tastefully. The current lawsuit, however, disputes the "tasteful" nature of the scene and seeks damages for the distress the two actors say they suffered as a result of the incident.
The lawsuit is ongoing, and the outcome will depend on the court's decision. For now, we can only wait and see how the case will unfold in the months ahead.