'My Blood Kind Of Ran Cold' Says Rush On Telegraph Allegations
Actor Geoffrey Rush is seeking damages after his career was “smashed & destroyed” according to his lawyers.
Mr Rush told the Federal Court in Sydney on Monday a series of allegedly defamatory articles made him sick to his stomach because they painted him as a "major pervert".
His legal team is seeking to clear his name and win compensation saying the claims he was inappropriate towards a co-star -- which he denies -- have cost him millions of dollars and destroyed his reputation.
The Oscar winner denies allegations of bad behaviour and inappropriate touching published by The Daily Telegraph late last year.
The stories accused Mr Rush of assaulting Eryn-Jean Norvill during a 2015-16 production of King Lear by the Sydney Theatre Company.
“[I was in] A diabolical position I felt ambushed. I was in free fall because I had no information. I’d been denied access to what those allegations actually were.”
In an email Mr Rush was asked to comment on the allegations the night before the first article was printed and says he was shocked and panicked when he got it.
“Very upsetting… Ms Norvill and I, as far as I was concerned, shared a very sparky congenial rapport … it was a shock.”
When asked how he felt about the articles he responded: “My blood kind of ran cold and I went to jelly. This story is going to continue and it’s wilder than you think."
The 67-year-old says even the front page image used -- which was lifted from a theatre poster -- made him look like a criminal.
“It polluted or it dirtied the original intention of the images and converted it into what I think looked like a police line-up it made a madman from the theatre look criminal in reality.”
Barrister Bruce McClintock SC told the court his client has suffered real financial harm and is “damaged goods”.
In the 5 months before the articles Rush earned 1-point-5 million dollars. Since the stories were published he’s only made $44,000.
“This was a straight up full blooded attack … to smash and destroy my client’s reputation,” he told the court.
“His reputation was stellar it could not have been higher, no scandal attached to his name, unlike other stars of the stage and screen.”
McClintock claims the articles were “desperate” and made up, and accused Telegraph reporter Jonathan Moran of leaving out part of a Sydney Theatre Company statement which confirmed the allegations were thus far un-proven.
“STC has at all times been clear that this was an allegation to, not by the STC and not a conclusion of impropriety” the statement read.
At one-point Tom Blackburn SC for the Daily Telegraph interjected to remind the court that what McClintock was saying wasn’t necessarily the truth and that he was using the word lie too much.
The court is expected to hear from Norvill and a number of other cast members, a number of whom were there when some of the allegations were said to have taken place.
The trial is expected to run three weeks.
Rush will be cross-examined on Tuesday.