Geoffrey Rush’s lawyer has said that the actor has become “virtually housebound” and has lost his appetite since an Australian newspaper claimed that he had behaved inappropriately toward a female colleague during a theatre production. In an affidavit submitted to the Australian Federal Court in Sydney, lawyer Nicholas Pullen said that Rush had faced “tremendous emotional and social hardship” due to the accusations in The Daily Telegraph.
The court is hearing a defamation suit filed by Rush against The Daily Telegraph over its reports, published last November, alleging that the actor had inappropriately touched a co-star during the Sydney Theatre Company’s 2015 production of King Lear. The publication had cited anonymous sources from the theatre company in its article. Nationwide News, the publisher of Daily Telegraph, has filed a cross claim to try to rope the Sydney Theatre Company into the defamation case and make it jointly liable.
Rush called the allegations in the article “spurious claims with bombastic titles” that made him seem like a “pervert” and a “sexual predator” who had “committed sexual assault”.
The tabloid has stood by its report and claimed that it had not made any allegations of a sexual nature.
In the affidavit, Pullen said that Rush “suffers lack of sleep and anxiety requiring medication” and believes his worth to the entertainment industry “is now irreparably damaged”. He said the Oscar award-winning actor has “lost his appetite and barely eats” and “wakes up every morning with a terrible sense of dread about his future career”. As a result of the stories Rush has been “constantly associated in Australia and internationally with the #MeToo movement”, the legal documents said.
The reports were published at a time when a movement against institutionalised sexual harassment had swept Hollywood after allegations against Harvey Weinstein and several other prominent actors and filmmakers, many of whom had subsequently been removed from ongoing projects.