One of the #MeToo stories that came out late last year was against 66-year-old Geoffrey Rush. He had been accused of “inappropriate behavior” while performing in King Lear with The Sydney Theatre Company in 2015 and 2016. Geoffrey responded to the allegations, published by Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph, by denying any inappropriate behavior, and added that STC received the complaint after he had finished working with them.
In February, Geoffrey filed a defamation lawsuit against Nationwide News (The Daily Telegraph’s parent company) and journalist Jonathon Moran (who wrote of the allegations). According to Deadline, in court today, Geoffrey’s lawyer accused The Daily Telegraph of damaging his career and forcing him to hide in his house.
The Daily Telegraph never elaborated on what kind of complaint STC received; they would only say that it was a complaint of “inappropriate behavior” that was filed by someone on staff. However, two actors who appeared in the production of King Lear were quick to back up Geoffrey’s accuser on Twitter and Facebook, with one actor saying of the allegations: “It wasn’t a misunderstanding. It wasn’t a joke.” In December, Geoffrey Rush resigned as president of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts.
Geoffrey’s lawsuit states that The Daily Telegraph made him out to be a “pervert” and a “sexual predator.” His lawyer believes that any allegation of “inappropriate touching” was just vague enough for people to come up with their own “salacious” story of what happened.
In court today, his lawyer said that Geoffrey believes his career has been “irreparably damaged” by the allegations of inappropriate behavior. Geoffrey has run into “emotional and social hardships.” Geoffrey claims that being associated with Australia’s #MeToo movement has caused him such anxiety, that he’s been forced him into his home, where he barely eats or sleeps.
Nationwide News responded by filing a cross-claim against The Sydney Theatre Company, saying that they provided statements they knew would be published by The Daily Telegraph.
A trial is likely to happen in December. I hope that if and when it does, Geoffrey doesn’t get a jury filled with socially anxious types like myself. Because Geoffrey’s description of how he’s currently living isn’t going to help win his case. Always at home? No social engagements? All the food you can or cannot eat? Awake for enough hours to successfully binge watch an entire season of a TV show on Netflix? I don’t know, that sounds like Heaven.