Former Romeo and Juliet actors Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting are suing Paramount alleging sexual exploitation at the time of filming of the1968 movie. Hussy and Whiting, who were teenagers when making the Oscar-winning film, accused the production company of distributing nude images of them as children.
According to Variety, in the lawsuit, the actors claim that the director, Franco Zeffirelli, told them there would be no nudity and flesh-colored costumes would be worn in the bedroom scene but he then later insisted they performed nude or the picture would fail. Zeffirelli died in 2019 at age 96.
In the suit, the pair alleges they have suffered mental and emotional distress” in the years since and have lost out on job opportunities. A claim for damages over $500 million is being made.
Who is Olivia Hussey?
Olivia Hussey is a film, stage, and television actress. She was born on April 17, 1951, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Olivia is the first child of Argentine since Andres Osuna and Joy Hussey, a legal secretary from England. Hussey’s parents separated when she was two years old.
At the age of seven, she moved to London with her mother and younger brother. She attended the Italia Conti Academy drama school for five years. At age 13, Hussey started acting professionally on the stage.
At 15, she was selected out of 500 auditions to star as Juliet in Zeffirelli’s film version of Romeo and Juliet in 1968. Before that, she appeared in minor roles in two roles The Battle of the Villa Fiorita and Cup Fever. Her performance in the movie won her the Golden Globe and two successive Best Actor Donatello Awards, Italy’s Oscar equivalent. This was an incredible achievement for an actress in only her third film.
Hussey has appeared in over two dozen films including, Death on the Nile (1978) with Bette Davis and Peter Ustinov, Jesus of Nazareth (1977), Last Days of Pompeii (1975), Lost Horizon (1973), The Bastard (1978), Hallmark’s Hall of Fame Ivanhoe (1982), Showtime’s Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990) and It (1990). She has also guest-starred in numerous television series.
She quit acting following the success of Romeo and Juliet, due to an ongoing struggle with agoraphobia.
In 1971, Hussey married singer Dean Martin’s son Dean Paul Martin. The couple had a son, Alexander Gunther Martin, in 1973. Hussey and Martin separated in 1978.
She married Japanese singer Akira Fuse in two ceremonies in 1980. The couple separated in 1989. They had a son named Max in 1983. In 1991, the actor married the American rock musician David Glen Eisley. In October 1993, she gave birth to their daughter, India Eisley.
In 2003, Hussey portrayed the lead in Mother Teresa of Calcutta (2003), a biographical film about Mother Teresa, for which she was honored with a Character & Morality in Entertainment Award on May 12, 2007, in Hollywood. She lives outside of Los Angeles with her family.