Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush is “virtually housebound” and believes his career has been “irreparably damaged” following the publication of an allegation against him, his lawyers claimed in an Australian court today.
The Shine and The King’s Speech star is suing Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and journalist Jonathan Moran for defamation over articles that said he was suspected of inappropriate behavior toward a fellow performer during a Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear in 2015.
Rush, who denies the allegation, since had endured “tremendous emotional and social hardship,” according to legal documents filed in the Federal Court of Australia. This included him eating little food, having difficulty sleeping and feeling anxious in public, his lawyers said. “The applicant has found that as a direct result of the publications he has been constantly associated in Australia and internationally with the #MeToo movement,” they detailed. Rush stepped down from his role as president of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts in December, and he won a gag order against the Daily Telegraph in February.
The tabloid, which is published by News Corp subsidiary Nationwide News, has defended its reports, but Rush accused the newspaper of false and “spurious” claims when he filed the defamation suit in December. The newspaper argues that its articles were not defamatory and that it reported no accusations of a sexual nature. Last month, however, Justice Michael Wigney struck out large parts of the newspaper’s defense of truth. The newspaper has appealed that decision.
Meanwhile, Nationwide News has filed a cross-claim against the Sydney Theatre Company, attempting to make the stage company part of the defamation proceedings and jointly liable in the case of a ruling against the Daily Telegraph. The application says the firm was responsible for providing statements relating to a complaint alleging inappropriate behavior by Rush knowing they would, or would likely, be re-published by the Telegraph.
In court this morning, Rush’s barrister attacked the cross claim as “spurious” and a time-wasting exercise. The cross-claim application is scheduled to be heard on Friday. Wigney said it was likely that the trial would be heard in December.