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Son of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ director Zeffirelli slams lawsuit


The son of “Romeo and Juliet” director Franco Zeffirelli has responded to a toddler sexual abuse lawsuit just lately submitted in Los Angeles County by the movie’s stars, Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey.

Pippo Zeffirelli — who additionally serves as president of the Franco Zeffirelli Foundation — known as the case introduced in opposition to Paramount Pictures and allegations leveled in opposition to his late father “embarrassing” in a Friday assertion to the Guardian. Franco Zeffirelli died at age 96 in 2019.

“It is embarrassing to hear that today, 55 years after filming, two elderly actors who owe their notoriety essentially to this film wake up to declare that they have suffered an abuse that has caused them years of anxiety and emotional discomfort,” Pippo Zeffirelli stated.

“It appears to me that in all these years, they have always maintained a relationship of deep gratitude and friendship towards Zeffirelli, releasing hundreds of interviews about the happy memory of their very fortunate experience, which was crowned with worldwide success.”

Whiting, who performed Romeo Montague when he was 16, and Hussey, who performed Juliet Capulet when she was 15, are suing Paramount, accusing the studio of sexual harassment and youngster sexual abuse over the 1968 movie’s controversial nude scene: a bed room sequence by which Whiting’s naked buttocks and Hussey’s naked breasts are seen.

Whiting and Hussey allege of their grievance that Zeffirelli coerced them to carry out nude within the bed room scene regardless of beforehand assuring them “there would be no nudity filmed or exhibited.” The romantic leads, now of their early 70s, say the filmmaker informed them that “they must act in the nude or the Picture would fail” and warned them that “they would never work again in any profession, let alone Hollywood,” in the event that they didn’t comply.

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The lawsuit states that the kid actors have been allegedly coated with nude physique make-up and “believed they had no choice but to act in the nude … as demanded.” By releasing the film, Paramount then distributed “what is essentially pornography and evidence of a crime … for profit,” the grievance alleges.

A consultant for the plaintiffs didn’t instantly reply Sunday to the Los Angeles Times’ request for remark.

On Friday, Pippo Zeffirelli defended his father and argued that the nude scene is “far from pornographic.” He additionally stated he believed “Romeo and Juliet” producers John Brabourne and Anthony Havelock-Allan obtained consent types on the time from the actors’ mother and father.

“Zeffirelli himself was accused of being reactionary precisely because, over and over again, he spoke out against pornography,” Pippo Zeffirelli informed the Guardian.

“The nude images in the film express the beauty, the transfer, I would even say the candour of mutual giving and do not contain any morbid feeling.”

Whiting and Hussey are searching for greater than $500 million in damages for alleged bodily, psychological and emotional misery, in addition to “a lifetime loss” of earnings, employment advantages and job alternatives.


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