Romeo and Juliet, Pippo Zeffirelli: “Embarrassing denunciation of actors after 55 years”

“The love scene is as far away from pornography as you can imagine”

The love scene in the film “Romeo and Juliet” (1968) by director Franco Zeffirelli “is as far away from pornography as one can imagine. Zeffirelli himself was accused of being reactionary precisely because over and over again he spoke out against pornography. The nude images in the film express the beauty, the transport, I would even say the candor of the mutual giving and do not contain any morbid feeling. I also believe that the two producers of the film, John Brabourne and Anthony Haveclock-Allan, will have had a release by their parents before shooting the scene in question.” He states that, in a note, Pippo Zeffirelli, adopted son of the director who died in 2019 and president of the Franco Zeffirelli Onlus Foundationregarding the Hussey-Whiting affair and the lawsuit of the two actors in the film filed against Paramount Pictures.

Actors Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, then aged 15 and 16 and now aged 71 and 72, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court in recent days over alleged sexual abuse, sexual harassment and fraud. The two protagonists of “Romeo and Juliet” are suing Paramount Pictures for more than 500 million dollars for the nude scene in the film.

“It is embarrassing to hear that today, fifty-five years after filming, two elderly actors who essentially owe their notoriety to this film – says Pippo Zeffirelli in a statement – wake up to declare that they have suffered an abuse that caused them years of anxiety and emotional discomfort. It appears to me that in all these years they have always maintained a relationship of deep gratitude and friendship towards Zeffirelli, releasing hundreds of interviews in the happy memory of their very fortunate experience, crowned with worldwide success”.

Later, Pippo Zeffirelli recalls, Olivia Hussey “worked again with Zeffirelli, admirably interpreting Mary in Jesus of Nazareth; and Leonard Whiting even came to Florence for the Maestro’s funeral, and brought his testimony to the Memorial held in London in February 2020”.