Culture&Arts

Geoffrey Rush was told to stop touching co-star, attorney tells court

Geoffrey Rush was told to stop touching co-star, attorney tells court

An actor who accused Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush of inappropriately touching her on a Sydney stage later swore at him when he followed her into a toilet at a party after a performance, Australian court documents allege.

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 Telegraph's defence barrister Tom Blackburn SC told the Federal Court on Monday Rush touched a female co-star several times during the final week of the 2015 show, in a way that made her uncomfortable, and in a way he hadn't touched her before.

But Rush's lawyer, Richard McHugh, told the court the accusations were vague.

Blackburn is fighting Rush's application to have the newspaper's truth defence struck out.

A lawyer in an Australian courtroom accused Oscar victor Geoffrey Rush of touching a woman inappropriately.

Mr Blackburn on Monday said for the purposes of the defence it wasn't important where Rush touched his co-star, but the fact she allegedly asked him to stop - and he didn't - made it inappropriate.

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According to The Daily Telegraph, Rush touched Norvill inappropriately during the play's last scene that required him to carry her lifeless body on stage.

"I think in this case the interests of open justice outweigh the considerations Mr McHugh raises in relation to damage to his client's reputation", Justice Wigney said. "Our case is that in itself is inappropriate".

The judge has delayed his decision on that request to a later date.

On Monday he said the allegation of "inappropriate touching" made against Rush was "completely opaque" and would make it impossible for Rush to defend himself.

Mr McHugh said parts of the defence lacked specificity and still didn't detail what Rush's supposed behaviour actually was.

It wasn't clear how the actor's manner of touching was alleged to have changed towards the end of the production to make his colleague feel uncomfortable, the barrister said.

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 actress had not wanted Rush informed of her complaint, the company said. He won an Academy Award for best actor in 1997 for Shine, and has been nominated for three other Oscars over his career.