Geoffrey Rush has filed defamation proceedings against The Daily Telegraph, which published allegations the actor behaved inappropriately towards a female cast member in a Sydney Theatre Company (STC) play.
“It is an action I am taking in order to redress the slurs, innuendo and hyperbole that they have created around my standing in the entertainment industry and in the greater community,” he said.
“The Daily Telegraph has made false, pejorative and demeaning claims, splattering them with unrelenting bombast on its front pages.
“This has created irreparable damage to my reputation.”
The 66-year-old Academy Award winner said the allegations were “extremely hurtful” to his wife, son and daughter.
“The situation is intolerable and I must seek vindication of my good name through the courts.”
The first article airing claims that Rush behaved inappropriately during a 2015 production of King Lear was published by the Daily Telegraph on November 30.
Rush denied the allegations on that day, saying he had not been informed by the STC of the existence, or the nature, of the complaint.
Editor says paper ‘accurately reported’ complaint
The Daily Telegraph editor Chris Dore said they would be defending the newspaper’s reporting in court.
“The Daily Telegraph accurately reported the Sydney Theatre Company received a complaint alleging that Mr Geoffrey Rush had engaged in inappropriate behaviour,” he said.
“We will defend our position in court.”
The STC has not disclosed details of the allegation, but did say an allegation had been made.
A company spokesperson said the complainant requested the allegation be dealt with confidentially, and did not want Rush notified or involved in any investigation.
The company did not say what action it had taken in response to the complaint or whether they would work with Rush in the future.
Rush announced on the weekend he would be stepping aside from his role of the president of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) “until these issues have been resolved”.
The major ceremonies held by the AACTAs each year went on without their inaugural president on Monday and Wednesday.
Celebrated actor Rachel Griffiths hit out at the allegations made about Rush on the red carpet on Wednesday.
“Geoffrey Rush is not Harvey Weinstein and I have had more than a handful of interactions with Harvey Weinstein,” she said.
After a long and local career in Australian theatre, Rush was a latecomer to international acclaim, winning the Best Actor Academy Award for his role in Shine in 1997 when he was in his 40s.
For his involvement in philanthropic groups and his hand in evolving the Australian Film Institute awards into the AACTAs, he was named the 2012 Australian of the Year by then-prime minister Julia Gillard.
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