Testimony against Rush ‘ridiculous’
A barrister yesterday compared an actress’s testimony that Geoffrey Rush regularly made lewd gestures towards her and called her “scrumptious’’ and “yummy’’ during a King Lear production with “a ridiculous silent film”.
Sue Chrysanthou, a barrister appearing for Rush in his defamation battle with Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph, challenged and mocked the testimony of Eryn Jean Norvill, Rush’s co-star and the newspaper’s key witness in the defamation case.
“Licking his lips, raising his eyebrows, bulging out his eyes and growling, making hourglass shapes with his hands, saying ‘scrumptious’ and ‘yummy’. It sounds like a ridiculous silent film,’’ Ms Chrysanthou said.
One of two barristers making closing statements for Rush, she said the incident was “one of many lies’’ told by Norvill.
She urged the trial judge, Michael Wigney, to “nail these lies’’.
She said Norvill’s evidence “has to be considered against the sea of absent witnesses (offering corroborating evidence)’’.
Norvill, who starred in a 2015-16 production with Rush, is at the centre of the defamation case the actor has brought against The Daily Telegraph.
She has testified that during the Sydney Theatre Company show, Rush “deliberately” touched her breast during a preview performance, leaving her feeling “trapped” and “frightened”.
She alleged that Rush touched the skin of her lower back, regularly made breast groping and “hourglass’’ gestures towards her and called her “scrumptious” and “yummy” as they worked together.
Ms Chrysanthou said another incident in which Rush allegedly performed a comic skit over Norvill’s torso that ended in a breast-groping gesture and a reprimand from the director, Neil Armfield, did not occur.
“The entire scene . . . did not happen,’’ she said.
Cast member Mark Winter has testified that he saw Rush perform the skit, which ended in a “boob-squeezing” gesture, and that he saw Rush touch Norvill’s left breast during the preview. (Norvill said it was her right breast that was touched.)
The Daily Telegraph’s senior counsel, Tom Blackburn SC, has described Norvill as an “utterly honest” witness who “wanted her complaint to be kept confidential . . . There is nothing in these proceedings for Ms Norvill except for stress and anxiety.’’
Rush strenuously denies any wrongdoing.
Armfield and two cast members have given evidence he did not behave inappropriately during the production.
Rush said the newspaper’s articles falsely painted him as a “pervert” and “sexual predator”.
Earlier, Rush’s senior counsel, Bruce McClintock, said the articles about Rush were “the most recklessly irresponsible journalism that has come before . . . a court in this country’’.
The trial is expected to finish today.