According to a report by US-based entertainment portal, the two lead actors of the film, Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, have filed a sexual abuse suit against the production company 55 years after the Franco Zeffirelli-helmed flick came out.
“Defendants were dishonest and secretly filmed the nude or partially nude minor children without their knowledge, in violation of the state and federal laws regulating said child sexual abuse and exploitation,” Deadline cited the filing of the aforementioned actors.
“Plaintiffs have suffered and will continue to suffer physical pain and mental pain along with extreme and severe mental anguish and emotional distress,” the filing further read.
Hussey and Whiting, estimated that the film production giant has made upwards of 500 million USD from the Shakespearean adaptation, are seeking punitive and exemplary damages which account for over 100 million USD.
According to report, Zeffirelli is not a defendant in the action as he passed away in 2019.
Released originally in March 1968, ‘Romeo & Juliet’ was the year’s major box office success. It garnered four Academy Award nominations, winning two of them in the categories of ‘Best Cinematography’ and ‘Best Costume Design’.
The manager of the lead actors in the film ‘Romeo & Juliet’, Tony Marinozzi, opened up to Deadline about the lawsuit.
“It has taken great courage for both Olivia and Leonard to address the sexploitation/sexualization (of minors) that occurred then, and unfortunately continues to permeate our society today,” Marinozzi said.
“The #MeToo movement and other similar support groups have provided a platform for Olivia and Leonard to finally hold those accountable regarding these abuses,” he added.
Marinozzi has been working with the 71-year-old Hussey and 72-year-old Whiting since 2020 and 2022 respectively.