Lawsuit over teen actors’ nudity in 1968 film Romeo and Juliet to be dismissed

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A Los Angeles County justice connected Thursday said she volition disregard a suit that the stars of 1968’s Romeo and Juliet filed implicit the film’s nude scene, which they said progressive them being subjected to fraud, and intersexual maltreatment and harassment erstwhile they were successful their teens.

Superior Court Judge Alison Mackenzie ruled successful favour of a question from suspect Paramount Pictures to disregard the suit brought by Olivia Hussey, who played Juliet astatine property 15 and is present 72, and Leonard Whiting, who played Romeo astatine 16 and is besides 72.

Judge Mackenzie determined that the country did not magnitude to kid pornography and was protected by the First Amendment, uncovering that the actors “have not enactment distant immoderate authorization showing the movie present tin beryllium deemed to beryllium sufficiently sexually suggestive arsenic a substance of instrumentality to beryllium held to beryllium conclusively illegal”.

In her written decision, she besides recovered that the suit did not autumn wrong the bounds of a California instrumentality that temporarily suspended the statute of limitations for kid intersexual abuse, and that a February re-release of the movie did not alteration that.

The actors’ lawyer denounced the determination and said they program to record different mentation of the suit successful national court.

“We firmly judge that the exploitation and sexualisation of minors successful the movie manufacture indispensable beryllium confronted and legally addressed to support susceptible individuals from harm and guarantee the enforcement of existing laws,” lawyer Solomon Gresen said successful a statement.

The movie and its taxable opus were large hits astatine the time, and – contempt the nude country that concisely shows Whiting’s bare buttocks and Hussey’s bare breasts – it was played for generations of precocious schoolhouse students studying Shakespeare’s tragedy.

Director Franco Zeffirelli, who died successful 2019 astatine property 96, initially told the 2 that they would deterioration flesh-coloured undergarments successful the chamber country that comes precocious successful the movie and was changeable connected the last days of filming, the suit alleged.

But connected the greeting of the shoot, Zeffirelli told Whiting and Hussey that they would deterioration lone assemblage make-up, portion inactive assuring them the camera would beryllium positioned successful a mode that would not amusement nudity, according to the suit.

Despite those assurances, they were filmed successful the nude without their knowledge, successful usurpation of California and national laws against indecency and the exploitation of children, the suit alleged.

Zeffirelli told them they indispensable enactment successful the nude “or the representation would fail” and their careers would beryllium hurt, the suit said.

The actors said that the other occurred, that neither had the vocation the film’s occurrence suggested, and that each suffered affectional harm and intelligence anguish for decades. They had sought much than 500 cardinal US dollars (£$05 million) successful damages.

The judge, though, recovered that the plaintiffs “cherry-picked” from the instrumentality and failed to supply ineligible authorization for wherefore it should use to “purported works of creator merit, specified arsenic the award-winning movie astatine contented here”.

She quoted from an appeals tribunal precedent that said kid pornography is “particularly repulsive,” but “not each images of nude children are pornographic”.

The ruling relied connected California instrumentality that is meant to support the escaped code of defendants from being restricted by lawsuits, and is often the archetypal enactment of defence erstwhile lawsuits are filed.

An lawyer for Paramount declined to remark astir the ruling.

The Associated Press typically does not sanction radical who accidental they person been sexually abused unless they travel guardant publicly, which Hussey and Whiting did.

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