Orange Is The New Black actress Yael Stone accused The King's Speech actor Geoffrey Rush of inappropriate behavior. Rush was previously accused of misconduct last year in Australia.
Stone, who is Australian, came forward in an interview with The New York Times, in which she said she was afraid of coming forward to accuse one of her native country's best-known actors.
The 33-year-old said she saw Rush dance naked in front of her and used a mirror to see her shower in her dressing room while they appeared on stage in The Diary of a Madman together, first in Sydney and then at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. She said he also sent her erotic text messages. At the time, Rush was 59 and Stone was 25.
Stone said she was afraid to come forward because of the consequences. She feared she could face Australia's tough defamation laws, which put the burden on the publisher to prove the claims are true. In the U.S., the person who claims to be defamed has to prove the allegations are false.
In a statement to the Times, Rush called Stone's allegations "incorrect and in some instances have been taken completely out of context" but "clearly Yael has been upset on occasion by the spirited enthusiasm I generally bring to my work. I sincerely and deeply regret if I have caused her any distress. This, most certainly, has never been my intention.”
“I know I have truth on my side,” Stone told the Times, adding that "you can see in all of my communications with you that there’s an element of terror."
Others supported Stone's story. One person who asked not to be named told the Times that the production was "tainted with a certain discomfort because of the dynamic between Geoffrey and Yael — not knowing what exactly was going on or how to respond."
Stone also told the Times she reached out to Rush in December 2017 via email, but he never responded.
Stone said Australia's legal system "favors the person with a good deal more money and a good deal more influence and power."
“The use of defamation cases against women with sexual harassment complaints is having a huge chilling effect,” Kate Jenkins, the Australian government’s sex discrimination commissioner, told the Times. “Women I speak to all over the country are absolutely adamant that they cannot complain because it risks absolutely everything for them.”
Last year, a woman accused Rush of "inappropriate behavior" during a Sydney Theater Company production of King Lear in 2015-2016. The woman was not named in The Daily Telegraph's reporting, but her name became part of the public record after Rush sued the paper's publisher, Rupert Murdoch's Nationwide News, for defamation. Nationwide News named the actress, Eryn Jean Norvill, in its defense.
During her testimony in November, Norvill gave more details of how Rush allegedly behaved around her. She testified that Rush called her "yummy" and would "deliberately" touch her breast onstage. According to The Guardian, Norvill said Rush made her feel "trapped" and "frightened" and the cast was "complicit" in allowing Rush's behavior.
Rush denied Norvill's allegations, but resigned as President of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA).
Stone has been acting on the stage in Australia since she was a child, and worked on Australian television before she was cast as Lorna Morello in Orange Is The New Black. She also appeared in the miniseries Picnic At Hanging Rock, which was released in the U.S. on Amazon this year.
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