Romeo and Juliet stars file new lawsuit against Paramount over underage nude images used for Criterion release


Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting are doubling down on their efforts to stop redistribution of the shots of them naked in the movie.

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting have revived their Romeo and Juliet lawsuit against Paramount, this time over the recent Criterion Collection home release of the 1968 movie.

As previously cautioned by their attorney after a judge dismissed their initial lawsuit last year, Hussey, 72, and Whiting, 73, have filed a new suit against the film company — and now, Criterion — over what they call the unlawful distribution of nude images of them that are featured in the Criterion release of Franco Zeffirelli’s romance film.

Join YouTube banner

The photographs cited in this suit are from the same scene at the center of their original lawsuit, which features Hussey and Whiting naked in a bedroom as the titular star-crossed lovers.

In the suit filed in Los Angeles on Feb. 14 and reviewed by EW, Hussey and Whiting claim they never consented to Paramount’s redistribution of the movie and are thus suing for unlawful distribution of intimate photographs, unlawful use of likeness, and violation of performers’ rights.

The actors allege that “nothing in the agreement” for the original release granted Paramount the right to recreate, republish, or redistribute photographs of their work in any other medium or format than 35 mm analogue cinematographic photographs. However, the digital release contains “digitally enhanced photographs” of Whiting and Hussey lying together nude in a bed, as well as other renderings in “high definition.”

Leonard Whiting plays Romeo Montague and Olivia Hussey plays Juliet Capulet in the 1968 production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet directed by Franco Zeffirelli.
Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey in 1968’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’. BETTMANN ARCHIVE


“Among other things, the digital photos rendered, in extremely high-definition detail, the contents of several analog color photographs taken in the private studio in the presence only of key photography personnel while Hussey and Whiting were minors during the production of the original project, depicting Hussey’s complete naked breasts and Whiting’s complete naked buttocks,” the complaint reads. Hussey was 16 at the time of the film’s production, while Whiting was 15.

Paramount and Criterion did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment.

“We and our new lawyers extended the olive branch to Paramount in hopes that they would settle this legal matter, but unfortunately, it appears that they do not want to take responsibility for their participation in the digital enhancement, production, and distribution of the 1968 film nor for the photos included in that reproduction that were fraudulently and surreptitiously taken,” Hussey and Whiting said in a joint statement. “Our fight for accountability will now involve a new lawsuit and a more rigorous effort in the media, which up until this time we had sought to avoid.”

They added, “The facts, evidence, and law are all crystal clear in this matter, and we believe that over half a century of mental incarceration for this traumatic event has been quite enough.”

A Los Angeles judge granted Paramount’s motion to dismiss the initial lawsuit in May 2023, rejecting the argument that the nude scene amounted to child pornography and finding that the stars didn’t comply with the provisions of a California law that temporarily suspended the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse claims.








Comments are closed.