Pippo Zeffirelli, son of the late legendary Italian filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli, has fired back against Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, the stars of his heralded 1968 adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.
As reported, the pair, now in their 70s, were 15 and 16 when they appeared in the movie. They recently sued Paramount Pictures, claiming they were tricked into appearing nude during a love scene in the film while underage.
According to The Guardian, Pippo Zeffirelli said the scene was "far from pornographic" and his father "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 transfer, I would even say the candour of mutual giving."
In their lawsuit, the pair claimed they suffered "mental anguish and emotional distress" since appearing in the film, for which they won Golden Globes. A representative noted the suit is asking for damages "in excess of $500 million."
The younger Zeffirelli continued, "It is embarrassing 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 an abuse that has caused them years of anxiety and emotional discomfort."
He also contended that the pair "always maintained a relationship of deep gratitude and friendship towards Zeffirelli," with Hussey working on Franco's Jesus of Nazareth miniseries. Whiting attended the director's funeral in 2019.