Eryn Jean Norvill says a veteran Australian actor was among those who enabled Geoffrey Rush’s alleged sexual harassment of her during a Sydney Theatre Company production.
Norvill was questioned in Sydney’s Federal Court by Rush’s lawyer on Wednesday about her earlier comment that the King Lear rehearsal room was “complicit” in the Oscar winner’s inappropriate behaviour toward her.
Pressed specifically for her thoughts on industry veteran Robyn Nevin, the young actor said she enabled Rush, as had everyone else in the room.
Norvill was in the witness box for a second day as Rush, 67, sues Daily Telegraph publisher Nationwide News and journalist Jonathon Moran for defamation.
The Telegraph last year published articles about an allegation Rush behaved inappropriately toward a co-star, later revealed to be Norvill, during a production of King Lear in 2015 and 2016.
Rush strongly denies the claims against him and argues the newspaper portrayed him as a pervert and sexual predator.
The Telegraph is pleading a defence of truth after Norvill – who didn’t speak with the journalist before his articles were published – agreed in July to testify.
When asked by barrister Bruce McClintock SC on Wednesday why she didn’t tell Nevin she was “complicit” when they exchanged messages after the Telegraph story broke, Norvill said she didn’t have “any hardship” toward her.
“Ms Nevin has always been kind to me. Whether she enabled Geoffrey’s behaviour is a different matter,” Norvill told the court.
She said she and Nevin were from different generations and could have different ideas about what was culturally appropriate in the workplace.
She said there was a culture of bullying and harassment in the rehearsal room and the industry more broadly – perpetuated by fear and silence.
When Justice Michael Wigney asked if she thought Nevin was frightened, Norvill said she wouldn’t have been.
Nevin during her evidence last week said she hadn’t seen anything during King Lear to justify Norvill’s complaint and she believed it to be baseless.
She said she didn’t confront or question Norvill about it after the Telegraph articles were published as the “damage was done”. She denied it was because she thought the allegations could be true.
The judge-alone trial continues.