55 Years Later, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Stars Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting Sue Paramount Over Bedroom Scene

55 Years Later, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Stars Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting Sue Paramount Over Bedroom Scene

Shakespeare’s classic tragic romance, Romeo and Juliet, has been adapted for the silver screens several times. This generation will probably remember the one starring Leonardo DiCaprio. However, long before DiCaprio’s boyish good looks captured the hearts of the audience, it was the 1968 movie starring Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey that captivated the moviegoers. 

55 years had passed since Paramount released the movie and now it finds itself in the middle of controversy again. The two leads have sued the company for child sexual abuse over the then-bold nude scenes. 

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Romeo and Juliet nude scenes were shot without the knowledge of Olivia Hussey or Leonard Whiting

Back in 1968, during the filming of Frank Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet, both Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting were teenagers. Apparently, they had never agreed to do nudity in the picture. Now in their 70s, the leads have filed a lawsuit against Paramount for child sexual abuse according to Variety

Zeffirelli, who died in 2019, apparently assured them that the film involved no nudity. He had told them about the different camera tricks and positions he would employ to simulate the scene. The 16-year-olds were supposed to wear flesh-colored garments throughout the bedroom scene. But on the day of the shoot, they were “implored” to film nude.

Nudity was not common in the 60s Hollywood. The provocative scene included Whiting’s buttocks and Hussey’s bare breasts. Although the 16-year-old stars became stars overnight after the movie premiered, they have worked only sporadically in Hollywood after that. The emotional and mental distress of the whole event caused the stars to lose out on projects. Paramount may have to pay a heavy amount (excess of $500 million) to the actors for the damages. 

Meanwhile, in 2018, Hussey told Fox News, “It wasn’t that big of a deal.” Although the scene was too bold for a conservative America then, they both understood the assignment. In fact, according to her, the script demanded the scene and Zeffirelli shot it rather “tastefully.” 

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What do you think about the lawsuit and Hussey’s contradictory remarks?

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