Rush may never act again, lawyers claim
Actor Geoffrey Rush is seeking millions of dollars in damages and “may never work again” following the publication of allegations of inappropriate behaviour, a judge heard yesterday.
Lawyers for Rush, 67, told the Federal Court in Sydney court the actor had been unable to work since The Daily Telegraph published allegations he behaved inappropriately towards a female co-star during the Sydney Theatre Production of King Lear in 2015 and 2016.
The Oscar winner has vehemently denied the claims, which were later revealed to relate to his co-star Erin Jean Norvill, who gave evidence as the newspaper’s star witness over the course of the trial. But Tom Blackburn SC, appearing for The Daily Telegraph yesterday, said that despite Rush seeking “millions” in damages, there was “no evidence at all” the actor was now unable to work or that job offers had dried up.
Rush, who appeared in court yesterday flanked by his wife Jane Menelaus, maintains The Daily Telegraph’s articles falsely painted him as a “pervert” and “sexual predator”, while The Daily Telegraph is defending the articles on the basis its claims are true.
Mr Blackburn told the court Rush had been “carefully and deliberately silent about the number of offers” he had received in the wake of the published stories.
He also pointed to evidence given by Rush’s Hollywood agent, Fred Spektor, in which he “very carefully” avoided revealing any roles that may have been offered to the actor. While Mr Spektor had told the court he wasn’t “fielding any offers” for Rush, it didn’t mean he hadn’t received offers — it just meant he wasn’t “open for business”.
But during his closing submis- sions, Rush’s barrister, Bruce McClintock SC, told the court there was a “significant risk” Rush would never work again, referring to “a cloud of MeToo”, which now hung over the actor.
Mr McClintock referred to the newspaper’s depiction of a halfnaked Rush, taken from a publicity shot for the STC production of the Shakespearean tragedy, and accompanied by the words “King Leer” as “unfair, sensational and extravagant”.
He said that prior to The Daily Telegraph’s articles Rush earned an average of $128,006 a month, but the actor was now worried he may never recover the confidence or desire to work again.
He asked judge Michael Wigney to award his client substantial damages — starting at the maximum allowed under the uniform law cap of $398,500 — plus special damages.
“What they did to my client has disabled him from working. He’s a different man,” Mr McClintock said. “Why would a Hollywood studio take a risk with an antipodean actor when there are other people closer to home?”
In his closing submissions, Mr Blackburn said if Rush was psychologically or medically incapable of working, this should have been raised earlier in the trial and he would have applied to have the actor examined.
Justice Wigney reserved his decision to early next year.