Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush has denied allegations of “inappropriate behaviour” during a Sydney Theatre Company production of Shakespeare’s King Lear.
“It is a great disappointment to Mr Rush the STC has chosen to smear his name and unjustifiably damage his reputation in this way”, said the Oscar winner’s lawyer, Nicholas Pullen from HWL Ebsworth, in a statement provided to The New Daily.
The situation means this “is a highly stressful and frustrating time for Mr Rush and his family”.
The Pirates of the Caribbean star, 66, said the Sydney Theatre Company never informed him of the “unfounded” complaint, and has since stonewalled him over the allegations.
“The moment I became aware of rumours of a complaint I immediately phoned and spoke to senior management of the Sydney Theatre Company asking for clarification about the details of the statement.”
But the internationally-lauded company, which counts Cate Blanchett and Robyn Nevin as past artistic directors, “refused to illuminate me with the details”, he added.
“I also asked why this information was being withheld, and why, according to standard theatre practice, the issue had not been raised with me during the production via stage management, the director, my fellow actors or anyone at any management level.
“However, no response was forthcoming.”
The alleged behaviour occurred over several months during King Lear, News Corp reported. The production was staged from November 2015 to January 2016 and had months of rehearsals beforehand.
“Sydney Theatre Company received a complaint alleging that Mr Geoffrey Rush had engaged in inappropriate behaviour,” a spokeswoman said in a statement to The New Daily.
“The Company received the complaint when Mr Rush’s engagement with the Company had ended. The Company continues to work with the complainant to minimise the risk of future instances of the alleged behaviour occurring in its workplace.”
Later in the day, the STC sent The New Daily a second statement, clarifying the timeline of events and its position.
It said it was asked by a News Corp journalist earlier this month whether it had received a complaint alleging inappropriate behaviour by Mr Rush while he was employed by the company.
“STC responded truthfully that it had received such a complaint”, said the statement.
At the time of the complaint, said the STC, “the complainant requested that the matter be dealt with confidentially, and did not want Mr Rush notified or involved in any investigation”.
“STC complied, acting in the interest of the complainant’s health and welfare.
“STC has at all times been clear that this was an allegation made to (not by) STC and not a conclusion of impropriety.”
Rush’s lawyers told News Corp in an earlier statement the actor had never been involved in “inappropriate behaviour” and his treatment of colleagues has always “been impeccable beyond reproach”.
In the second statement, they said “at this stage” Rush “can only reiterate” his earlier denials of having been involved in any ‘inappropriate behaviour’ whatsoever.
“Whether on a film set or in the theatre, Mr Rush has always adhered to the finest professional principals in pursuit of his craft.
“Until there is the decency afforded to Mr Rush of what the ‘inappropriate behaviour’ actually is then there is nothing more than can be said at this stage.”
Melbourne-based Rush, who has two children with Jane Menelaus, his actress wife of 29 years, is the president of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts. He is expected to attend the annual AACTA Awards at Sydney’s Star Event Centre on December 6.