A tearful Eryn Jean Norvill told her co-star during a Sydney Theatre Company production that being back at the venue reminded her of the trouble she’d had during King Lear some months earlier, a court has heard.
Robyn Nevin, who performed with Norvill in All My Sons and previously with her and Geoffrey Rush in King Lear, told the NSW Federal Court she thought the young actor was reflecting on the “great struggles” she had playing the king’s daughter.
“Ms Norvill in that state of tearfulness did not suggest in any way at all that there was any occurrence of, or experience of, inappropriate behaviour of a sexual nature,” Nevin said on Monday.
The veteran actor was in the witness box at Rush’s defamation trial against the Daily Telegraph‘s publisher and journalist Jonathon Moran concerning two articles and a poster about the 67-year-old actor.
They related to an allegation Rush behaved inappropriately toward a co-star – later revealed to be Norvill – during the production of King Lear in 2015 and 2016.
The Oscar-winner denies the claims against him and argues the articles portrayed him as a pervert and a sexual predator.
Nationwide News and Moran are pleading a defence of truth and Norvill – who didn’t speak with the journalist before the articles were published – has agreed to give evidence.
Defence barrister Tom Blackburn SC put it to Nevin on Monday that during the tearful conversation with Norvill, she responded: “Oh I thought Geoffrey had stopped doing that. Poor Jane (the name of Rush’s wife)”.
“Well, I deny that,” Nevin said on Monday.
The court later heard she messaged Norvill a day after the story broke in the Telegraph, saying: “Oh dear girl, are you OK?”
Nevin in the message told Norvill, who at that stage hadn’t been named in the media, that she hoped she would be protected and to just ask if she needed anything.
Nevin, who was giving evidence as part of Rush’s case, said she believed Norvill’s complaint against him to be baseless but she didn’t question her about it as “the damage was done”.
“I was there. I didn’t see anything that would justify the kind of complaint that was made,” Nevin said.
“My concern was for the kind of effect this would have on her when she didn’t want it made public.”
She couldn’t remember how she knew that the complainant mentioned in the Telegraph stories was Norvill and denied it was from the younger actor’s tearful comments at the STC.
She became emotional during her evidence-in-chief when she recalled Rush’s “state of confusion” after the articles were published, and how he was losing his capacity to work.
Judy Davis earlier on Monday said Rush had a “very serious heavyweight reputation” as an actor before the articles appeared.
Following their publication, Davis said she’d heard people say his career was finished.
The judge-alone trial continues.