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Australian actor Geoffrey Rush, who is claiming millions of dollars in defamation damages over a newspaper report he behaved inappropriately toward a female co-star, might never work again, his lawyer told a court Friday.
Wrapping up Rush’s case against Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper and journalist Jonathan Moran, lawyer Bruce McClintock said “there is a significant risk that Mr. Rush will not work again.”
In submissions for damages at the end of the 3-week hearing in Sydney’s Federal Court, McClintock said the Oscar-winning actor’s phone may not ring with job offers and he may never be able to regain his confidence and desire to work.
The high-profile non-jury trial ended on Friday, when Judge Michael Wigney said he would “love to start writing his judgment tomorrow” but that his workload would prevent him from delivering the decision this year.
Rush sued the Daily Telegraph’s publisher, Nationwide News, and Moran over two articles and a newspaper poster published in 2017.
They related to a report he behaved inappropriately toward a co-star, later revealed to be Eryn Jean Norvill, during a Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear in 2015 and 2016.
Rush denied the allegation and said the newspaper portrayed him as a pervert and sexual predator.
The newspaper argued that the articles were substantially true after Norvill — who didn’t participate in them — agreed to give evidence.
She testified Rush made groping gestures and sexual innuendoes toward her in rehearsals, stroked her lower back backstage and deliberately touched her breast as he grieved over her character’s dead body during a performance.
Referring to past and future economic losses, McClintock said, “What they did to my client has disabled him from working.”
“It does not take much of a taint to destroy a career,” he said.
Lawyer Tom Blackburn for the newspaper and Moran said Rush did not give any evidence of being incapable of working, or of not receiving any offers.
Rush won the best actor Oscar in 1996 for his portrayal of pianist David Helfgott in “Shine” and was nominated for roles in “Shakespeare in Love,” ”Quills” and “The King’s Speech.” He is also famed for his portrayal of Captain Barbossa in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films.
He received his nation’s highest civilian honor in 2014, the Companion of the Order of Australia, for service to the arts.
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