A $660 billion lawsuit against the producers of the 1968 movie “Romeo and Juliet” has been dismissed by a court, claiming that the stars were sexually exploited during filming.
Judge Alison Mackenzie of the Los Angeles County Superior Court dismissed the lawsuit against Paramount Pictures by Olivia Hasse, 72, who played Juliet in the film, and Leonard Whiting, 72, who played Romeo, according to the Associated Press, the New York Times, and others.
Judge Mackenzie ruled that the scenes Hasse and Whiting claimed were “sexually abusive” were protected under the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of expression. In his decision, Judge Mackenzie wrote, “They have not presented any evidence to show that the footage is so graphic as to be clearly illegal,” explaining that it does not constitute child sexual abuse. He said the case did not fall within the scope of California’s new law, which temporarily suspended the statute of limitations for child sex offenses.
“While child pornography is particularly repugnant, not everything that shows a child naked is pornography,” he said, citing case law.
The actor’s lawyers strongly criticized the court’s dismissal and said they plan to file another lawsuit in the near future. “In order to protect vulnerable individuals in the film industry, exploitation of minors and sexism in the film industry must be confronted and legally addressed,” attorney Solomon Gresen said in a statement.
Hassan and Whiting filed a lawsuit late last year alleging that they were victims of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and fraud during the filming of the movie. Hassé and Whiting were just 15 and 16 years old, respectively, when they appeared in the movie.
They claimed that director Franco Zeffirelli (who died in 2019) lied to them about filming a bed scene for the movie’s second half. The director initially told them that they would be filming in underwear that matched their skin tone, but then changed his mind shortly before the shoot and said they would be filming “without underwear and with simple body makeup.”
They also promised that the camera would be positioned in a way that would not show any nudity, but in reality, they were filming with parts of their bodies exposed. The movie includes a scene where the two are lying in bed topless. They claim the director pressured them, saying, “If you don’t get naked, the movie will fail, and it will ruin your career스포츠토토.”
They are seeking more than $500 million in damages, saying they have suffered mental anguish since the movie was shot.
Zeffirelli’s son, Pippo, countered in a statement in January, saying the scenes were “far from pornographic.” “My father has been vocal about his opposition to pornography throughout his life,” he said, “and I am deeply embarrassed that, 55 years later, two older actors who made their names with this movie are making these claims.” “Even after filming, they have maintained a good relationship with their father and have given several interviews in which they have fond memories of their experience, which has led to worldwide success.”