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Franco Zeffirelli’s son talks about the lawsuit of the actors of the film “Romeo and Juliet”

Director Franco Zeffirelli in 2008.

Photo: Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Some days ago Actors Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey (72 and 71, respectively) sued the Paramount company over a scene from the 1968 film “Romeo and Juliet.” in which they appear without clothes. They accused the studio of exploitation, fraud, sexual harassment, negligence, sexual abuse and the distribution of nude images, since both were minors at the time of filming. The director of the film, Franco Zeffirelli, died in 2019, but now his son has made statements amid the controversy.

Pippo Zeffirelliwho serves as president of his father’s foundation, gave an interview to Guardian in which he commented that Whiting and Hussey achieved worldwide fame because of that film and that for years they dedicated themselves to speaking well of both the film and the director: “It is shameful to hear that today, 55 years after filming, two elderly actors who owe their Notoriety essentially to this film wake up to declare that they have suffered abuse that has caused them years of anguish and emotional discomfort… Zeffirelli himself was accused of being a reactionary precisely because, time and again, he spoke out against pornography.”

Pippo added that during all these years Leonard and Olivia “have always maintained a relationship of deep gratitude and friendship towards Zeffirelli, broadcasting hundreds of interviews about the happy memory of their very lucky experience, which was crowned with worldwide success.” The actors now declare that during the last days of the filming of “Romeo and Juliet” the director insisted on doing the scene without clothes or else the film would “flop”, filming them naked supposedly without their consent.

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