Arts & Entertainment

Romeo and Juliet’ Was a Tragedy

In January, the stars of the 1968 movie adaptation of Romeo and Juliet filed a lawsuit accusing Paramount of child abuse. At the time of the film, Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting were teenagers, and in the suit, they alleged they were forced to do a nude scene they were too young to consent to. When the news broke, New York’s Lila Shapiro reached out to their teams to find out more about how they’d decided to sue the studio, 55 years later. Finally, this summer, they agreed to talk, and the story of how they got here was stranger than she could have imagined. The business manager who had suggested the lawsuit in the first place was a Hollywood striver who seemed more interested in the screenplay he was writing about the lawsuit than the lawsuit itself. The lawyer who’d crafted it had made basic errors when filing. And then there was Hussey, who had clearly been hurt by her time on the Romeo and Juliet set; in the years that followed, her career floundered, and she put her trust in managers who tended to screw her over. Was she being taken advantage of again? “I trusted everybody I ever met,” she told Lila. “That was my weakness.”

—Gazelle Emami, culture editor, New York  

Romeo and Juliet Was a Tragedy In 1968, Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting were the world’s most famous teens. In 2023, they sued Paramount for abuse.

Photo: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy/Alamy Stock Photo

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