Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey, who starred in Romeo and Juliet (1968) are suing Paramount Pictures for $500 million, claiming that their nude scenes were “secretly and unlawfully obtained.” At the time of production in 1968, Leonard Whiting was 16 years old, while Olivia Hussey was 15 years old.
Whiting and Hussey filed the suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and fraud. The suit goes on to say that according to Whiting and Hussey, Zeffirelli pressured the two teenagers into shooting the scene “or the Picture would fail,” the two stars also allege in their lawsuit that they “believed they had no choice but to act in the nude in body makeup as demanded.”
However, the suit alleges that Zeffirelli, who died in 2019, initially had told both Whiting and Hussey that the scene would be shot while wearing flesh-colored undergarments and makeup would be used along with camera angles that would hide any nudity.
The scene shows the two stars of the film partially covered while in bed, and Whiting’s uncovered buttocks and Hussey’s uncovered breasts are briefly shown during the scene.
Hussey commented on the scene in 2018, for the film’s 50th anniversary, touching on her young age at the time of filming, saying, “nobody my age had done that before.” Hussey also added that the director, Zeffirelli, shot the scene tastefully, adding that “it was needed for the film.”
Romeo and Juliet (1968) were directed by Franco Zeffirelli, and the film was a critical and commercial success, and it is often credited with popularizing the play and making it more accessible to modern audiences. It received Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design, and it won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design.