×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Geoffrey Rush Wins Defamation Case Over Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush has won his defamation case against the News Corp.-owned newspaper Daily Telegraph in his home country of Australia. The paper had published a story in which actress Erin Norvill accused Rush of inappropriate sexual behavior during a stage production of “King Lear” in Sydney.

Judge Michael Wigney on Thursday called the report “a recklessly irresponsible piece of sensationalist journalism” that relied on allegations from an accuser “prone to exaggeration and embellishment.” Norvill, speaking outside the courtroom after the verdict, said she stood by her testimony.

Wigney awarded Rush A$850,000 ($600,000) in aggravated damages. The actor is expected to receive further payments for loss of earnings at a further hearing in May.

After exiting the courtroom, Rush said he was grateful for the verdict. But, he added, “there are no winners in this case. It’s been extremely distressing for everyone involved.” Details of the case were heard by the court last October and November. At the beginning of proceedings, Rush said the period between the time the allegations surfaced and the trial had been “the worst 11 months of my life.”

The newspaper published the allegations under the headline “King Leer” and in a second story under the headline “Star’s Bard Behaviour.” In its defense, the paper denied its stories implied that Rush was a sexual predator and a pervert, and said the stories had included Rush’s denials. The articles did not name Norvill as the accuser.

Delivering his verdict, Wigney said: “I was not ultimately persuaded that Ms. Norvill was an entirely credible witness.” He said that her testimony was not supported by the evidence of theater director Neil Armfield or of cast members Robyn Nevin and Helen Buday.

The judge said he was considering special damages for Rush based on the consideration that the actor would likely not receive any substantial offers of work for 12 months after the “vindication of his reputation.” Rush might then be paid 50% of his usual rate for the first 12 to 18 months after that, and 75% for the following 18-24 months, Wigney said.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • The Antenna

    Toronto Film Review: 'The Antenna'

    Jump scares, creepy noises and the tease of hidden-from-view dangers are all fine. But a truly frightening horror film unsettles with more than its crafts, but instead through the vulnerability of defenseless people stuck with bad options only. First-time writer-director Orçun Behram’s highly stylized and mildly disturbing “The Antenna,” a metaphor on Turkey’s current ruling [...]

  • Ad Astra Box Office

    Box Office Battle: 'Ad Astra' Takes on 'Rambo: Last Blood' and 'Downton Abbey'

    “Hustlers” and “Good Boys” proved that even in the age of Marvel dominance and remake mania, movies that don’t exist within an established franchise can still be box office draws. Can “Ad Astra” continue that trend? The space drama — starring Brad Pitt and directed by James Gray — arrives on the big screen this [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein Accuser Lucia Evans Breaks

    Harvey Weinstein Accuser Lucia Evans Breaks Silence After D.A. Dropped Charge

    Lucia Evans gave a wrenching account on Tuesday of her efforts to hold Harvey Weinstein responsible for sexual assault, saying she felt betrayed after the Manhattan D.A.’s office dropped her allegations last year. Evans spoke to Variety after giving a speech at a conference on influencer fraud in Manhattan, making her first public comments on [...]

  • Ad Astra

    How 'Ad Astra' Production Crew Created Authentic Look for Brad Pitt Space Drama

    In “Ad Astra,” Brad Pitt’s astronaut Roy McBride crosses the solar system to find and confront his long-lost father, requiring the movie crew to create an authentic-looking future that conveys the theme of traveling long distances to learn the lesson that it’s where you started from that has the most value. “Visually, the aim was [...]

  • Nahnatchka Khan'Always Be My Maybe' film

    'Fresh Off the Boat' Creator Nahnatchka Khan Signs First-Look Deal With Netflix

    Netflix has signed “Fresh Off the Boat” creator and executive producer Nahnatchka Khan to an exclusive multi-year first look deal for feature films. Khan made her feature film directorial debut with “Always Be My Maybe” starring Ali Wong and Randall Park. The romantic comedy premiered on Netflix in May and was seen by 32 million [...]

  • The Mover

    Latvia, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro, Costa Rica Announce Oscar Contenders

    Latvia, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro and Costa Rica are the latest countries to announce their entries for the newly rebranded International Feature Film award at the 92nd Academy Awards. All four countries are seeking their first Oscar nomination in what was formerly known as the foreign-language film category. Latvia has selected Holocaust drama “The Mover” (pictured) as [...]

  • The Sky Is Pink

    Toronto Film Review: 'The Sky is Pink'

    Shonali Bose’s much-laureled 2014 “Margarita with a Straw” was a film whose presentation of a cerebral palsy-afflicted heroine sidestepped all the usual hand-wringing inspirational clichés of disability portrayal, making her story all the more enlightening and affecting. It is particularly disappointing, then, that the director’s followup should approach another tale of genetic infirmity with all [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content