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never was a story of more woe

Romeo and Juliet stars sue Paramount over nude scene in 1968 film

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, the stars of 1968's Romeo and Juliet, are suing Paramount for sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and fraud.

The suit was filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Now in their early 70s, Hussey and Whiting were 15 and 16 when they filmed Romeo and Juliet. The suit alleges that director Franco Zeffirelli, who died in 2019, told them they would wear flesh-colored undergarments in the bedroom scene, but at the last minute asked them to wear body makeup instead, saying he would film them in a way that did not show nudity. In the movie, Whiting's buttocks and Hussey's breasts are seen.

"What they were told and what went on were two different things," Tony Marinozzi, Whiting's and Hussey's business manager, told Variety. "They trusted Franco. At 16, as actors, they took his lead that he would not violate that trust they had. Franco was their friend, and frankly, at 16, what do they do? There are no options. There was no #MeToo."

Hussey and Whiting have suffered mental anguish and emotional distress because of the scene, the suit says, and they are seeking damages "believed to be in excess of $500 million," Variety reports.