Geoffrey Rush gives evidence in ‘inappropriate behaviour’ defamation case

Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush has given evidence in support of a defamation claim he is bringing in Australia over a newspaper allegation that he behaved inappropriately towards a female co-star.

Mr Rush is suing Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and the journalist who wrote the articles, Jonathon Moran. In his evidence, he said he felt distraught over the articles, which alleged inappropriate behaviour towards Eryn Jean Norvill, his co-star in a 2015 Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear.

The allegations include that Mr Rush made groping gestures towards Ms Norvill, made comments and jokes involving sexual innuendo, touched her lower back backstage, and traced his hand down her torso and across the side of her breast on stage during a scene in which he was carrying her. Mr Rush denies the allegations.  His wife has also given evidence of the effect on him, telling the court that he has retreated from the world and does not want to act again.

The trial has involved close examination of text messages Mr Rush sent to Ms Norvill, with lawyers making reference to website Emojipedia to seek to explain the meaning of emoji used in the texts, in particular the emoji with its tongue sticking out which the Daily Telegraph claimed was panting, but Mr Rush dismissed as simply zany – ‘the looniest emoji I could find’.

Mr Rush is well-known for films including The King’s SpeechShakespeare in LovePirates of the Caribbean and Shine, for which he won a best actor Oscar. His lawyer has described him as ‘a national living treasure’ and said the allegations were lies.  The Daily Telegraph intends to defend the allegations as true and Ms Norvill is expected to give evidence for the newspaper.

The trial is expected to last two-weeks, with a series of actors and others from the Australian film and theatre industry giving evidence.

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