Geoffrey Rush has been accused of touching a theater co-star’s genitals against her will in documents released by an Australian court on Tuesday (20Feb18).
The King’s Speech star, 66, is suing Nationwide News, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, and journalist Jonathon Moran for defamation over two articles which appeared in Australia’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.
It was revealed in the articles, one of which ran under the headline ‘King Leer’, that Sydney Theatre Company chiefs received a complaint against Rush from someone who accused him of “inappropriate behavior” while playing the title role in William Shakespeare’s King Lear in January 2016.
The news organization’s defense claims were initially suppressed but Sydney Federal Court Judge Michael Wigney lifted a confidentiality order on Monday.
According to Australia’s Brisbane Times, the defense documents reveal that his co-star Eryn Jean Norvill, who was playing Lear’s daughter Cordelia, accused him of having “touched her genitals during the production of King Lear without her consent” during a scene where the king carries his daughter’s lifeless body across the stage.
It is alleged that after this happened once, Norvill approached Rush following the performance and told him to stop, but he is accused of repeating the inappropriate touching on four other occasions.
Nationwide News‘ lawyers also claim that at a celebration party for cast and crew, the actor entered the female toilets at the Sydney Theatre Company’s Roslyn Packer Theatre, and stood outside her toilet stall until she told him to “f**k off” and leave.
The documents also state that Norvill was left “visibly upset” by the alleged incidents and that after an investigation, Sydney Theatre Company chiefs decided they would no longer work with Rush.
The Oscar winner has strenuously denied the claims and is seeking damages from Nationwide News, claiming the articles falsely portrayed him as a “pervert” and a “sexual predator”.
The case continues.