The past few years have not been kind to Hollywood. With the onset of the #MeToo movement causing tons of controversy, we – as a society – have started looking deeper into the goings-on of the entertainment industry.
Let’s take a look at the latest icky Hollywood situation and all of the litigation that comes with it.
If you read “Romeo and Juliet” in high school, you might’ve also seen a movie adaptation of the famous Shakespeare play. And one of the most popular (and accurate) adaptations is the 1968 film, “Romeo and Juliet,” directed by Franco Zeffirelli and produced by Paramount Pictures in the US.
In the original play, Romeo and Juliet are young teens – 16 and 13 years old, respectively. In Zeffirelli’s film, the actors playing them were also teenagers in real life. Romeo was played by Leonard Whiting (16), and Juliet was played by Olivia Hussey (15). Now, Whiting and Hussey are much older (71 and 72), and they’re suing Paramount for some of the content of the movie.
The actors filed a lawsuit for more than US$500 million in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging sexual abuse, sexual harassment and fraud. This comes during a time when the statute of limitations was lifted, under the California Child Victims Act, so that people abused as children would be able to seek justice.
Toward the end of the movie, Whiting and Hussey appear in a bedroom scene nude, but they are now saying that Zeffirelli originally told them the camera would be positioned so that nudity wouldn’t be visible. The two actors were also supposed to wear nude-colored undergarments for the scene, but Zeffirelli allegedly told the two actors that “they must act in the nude or the picture would fail.”
According to the suit, Paramount “knew or should have known images of plaintiffs’ nude bodies were secretly and unlawfully obtained during the performance.” It also refers to the footage as “essentially pornography.” It’s not a stretch to say that pornography of teenagers isn’t very cool. But, one of the director’s sons has come out to say that the scene is “as far from pornography as you can imagine” and pointed out that his father was even a critic of pornography in general. Zeffirelli himself is dead, so all the legal responsibility is falling on the production studio here.
Paramount hasn’t commented on the lawsuit.