Rush may never act again, lawyers claim

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - OLIVIA CAISLEY IN­QUIRER

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.

Rush

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