Australian actress Yael Stone has levelled a barrage of allegations against Geoffrey Rush, claiming that he danced naked in front of her backstage, sent her sexually suggestive text messages, and used a mirror to watch her while she showered. The Orange is the New Black star claims these events took place during a 2010-11 stage production of “Diary of a Madman” at Sydney’s Belvoir Theatre, when she was 25 and he was 59, as detailed in a report published by The New York Times and an interview with the ABC.
Stone is the second female co-star to make allegations of harassment against now 67-year-old Rush, Fairfax reports, after Eryn Jean Norvill claimed he “deliberately” stroked her down her right side during a 2015 performance of King Lear. Rush steadfastly denies this accusation, and has sued Sydney paper The Daily Telegraph for their reports.
Rush has also denied these more recent allegations. In a statement issued through his lawyers this afternoon, the veteran Australian actor said that Stone’s claims were “incorrect and in some instances have been taken completely out of context”, The Guardian reports. “However, clearly Yael has been upset on occasion by the spirited enthusiasm I generally bring to my work,” he added. “I sincerely and deeply regret if I have caused her any distress. This, most certainly, has never been my intention.
“When we performed in The Diary of a Madman eight years ago, I believe we engaged in a journey as artistic comrades. Over the years we have shared correspondence that always contained a mutual respect and admiration.
“As I have said in the past, I abhor any behaviour that might be considered as harassment or intimidation to anyone—whether in the workplace or any other environment.”
Stone told The New York Times that Rush’s inappropriate behaviour started with a series of affectionate text messages, not long after the pair had started working together on The Diary of a Madman—a production that Stone described as “the biggest break I had ever had.”
“I was so flattered that someone like that [Rush] would spend their time texting me into the very early hours of the morning,” she said. “Gradually the text messages became more sexual in nature, but always encased in this very highfalutin intellectual language.” Stone added that “I’m embarrassed by the ways I participated. I certainly wouldn’t engage as the person I am now in the way I did when I was 25.”
Stone further alleges that on another occasion, while she was showering in one of the two cubicles of the shared dressing room, she looked up to discover that “there was a small shaving mirror over the top of the partition between the [two] showers and he was using it to look down at my naked body. I believe that it was meant with a playful intention, but the effect was that I felt there was nowhere for me to feel safe and unobserved.” She told the NYT that “I said some words to the effect of, ‘Bugger off, Geoffrey.’ I was walking a very delicate line where I needed to manage these uncomfortable moments but never, never offend him.”
She also told the paper of the time that Rush danced in front of her “totally naked” in a “playful, clownish manner” one night while she was removing her makeup. In that instance, Stone says she responded with “an attitude of, ‘oh, you’re a very naughty boy.’
“I didn’t want him to think I was no fun, that I was one of those people who couldn’t take a joke,” she said.
Stone claims she wrote Rush an email in December last year—when he was the subject of intense media attention over the earlier allegations regarding his behaviour on the set of King Lear.
“I’m sure that this moment is extremely challenging and my thoughts these last few weeks have come to you many times. I hope you are ok,” the email begins, according to the NYT, before Stone tells Rush that he made her feel uncomfortable during their time working together.
“In the name of years of friendship I wanted to share with you what I have always been afraid to say,” she wrote. “I hope it’s possible for you to receive this in the spirit that it is meant. With a view toward healing.”
She never received a reply.