One of the first versions of Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare play, for the big screen happened in 1968. Directed by Franco Zeffirelli, the film featured Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting in the lead roles and was a huge success at the time, having been nominated for four Academy Awards. Now, 55 years later, the work is back in the spotlight, but not for good reason.
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Paramount, one of the producers of Romeo and Juliet, is being sued by the pair of protagonists, Hussey and Whiting, who are already in their 70s. They accuse the studio of abuse and exploitation, since the film shows a nude scene of the two, who were just teenagers during the production of the work. The lawsuit was filed in a court of Santa Monica, California, United States.
Romeo and Juliet, from 1968, exhibited a controversial nude scene by exposing child actors.Source: Paramount
The description of the process reveals that director Zeffirelli, who died in 2019, assured the cast that there would be no nude scenes in Romeo and Juliet and that, in the controversial scene in question, Hussey and Whiting would wear special clothes with skin colors. That is, they would not be naked.
However, in the last days of filming, the filmmaker had begged the duo to do the sequence with only body makeup. Otherwise, the film would “fail”. At the time, Hussey was just 15, while Whiting was 16.
The lawsuit also says that Zeffirelli had even told the actors where the camera would be, so that they would be sure that certain parts of their bodies would not appear. In this sense, the young people would have been filmed naked without knowing it, configuring dishonesty and abuse on the part of the film’s production.
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The document states that, due to the film, Hussey and Whiting suffered a lot of anguish and emotional damage for 55 years, and lost other roles because of it. And, in fact, the career of young people was brief and never took off, even with the success of Romeo and Juliet. The duo seeks US$ 500 million in damages (more than R$ 2 billion).
For now, Paramount has not taken a position on the matter and has not made any kind of statement. Keep an eye on My Series for more news!