The actors sued just before the tip of a three-year window in California that temporarily lifted the statute of limitations so individuals who said they were sexually abused as children could file civil cases. In recent days, the state has seen a flood of litigation under the statute, called the California Child Victims Act, before the window expired on Saturday.
The lawsuit alleges sexual harassment and childhood sexual abuse, amongst other claims.
Giuseppe Zeffirelli, certainly one of the director’s sons whom he adopted as an adult, said in an announcement on Thursday that the scene was “as removed from pornography as you may imagine,” noting that his father was an outspoken critic of pornography.
“It’s embarrassing to listen to that today, 55 years after filming, two elderly actors who owe their notoriety essentially to this film wake as much as declare that they’ve suffered an abuse that has caused them years of tension and emotional distress,” Giuseppe Zeffirelli, who’s referred to as Pippo, said within the statement.
He said that through the years, the actors had maintained a “relationship of profound gratitude and friendship” with Mr. Zeffirelli, noting that Ms. Hussey had worked with the director again within the 1977 mini-series “Jesus of Nazareth,” playing the Virgin Mary.
In her 2018 memoir, “The Girl on the Balcony,” Ms. Hussey recalls the filming of the scene, writing that after a makeup artist approached her to use full body makeup, she confronted Mr. Zeffirelli following a “small panic attack,” and he assured her that she could be wearing a nightgown within the scene.
“‘Although should things, you already know, flow in one other direction, I would like you to be ready,’” Ms. Hussey recalled the director saying.