Geoffrey Rush has denied licking his lips in front of a female cast member during rehearsals for a Sydney Theatre Company (STC) production, as his stint in the Federal Court witness box entered a third day.
The Oscar-winning actor, who is suing The Daily Telegraph and journalist Jonathan Moran for articles he claims were defamatory, made the denial while being cross-examined by barrister Tom Blackburn SC.
The stories, published in late last year, alleged Mr Rush behaved inappropriately towards a younger colleague during a STC production of King Lear in 2015-16.
That younger colleague was subsequently revealed in legal proceedings as actress Eryn Jean Norvill.
In court today, Mr Rush said he could not recall telling Ms Norvill she looked “scrumptious” during rehearsals, but admitted he might have used the word “yummy”.
The actor said he it was probably because he was in a chirpy mood and trying to bring energy to the rehearsal room because the scenes he was about to rehearse with Ms Norvill would be harrowing and dramatic.
“It was a positive affirmation that it would be a good day,” he said.
Mr Rush was in the lead role and Ms Norvill was playing the king’s daughter Cordelia.
In court, he denied intentionally groping Ms Norvill in a scene in which he was mourning over her body.
He denied touching her breasts and described holding his hands over her when she was lying on the floor as “the interior of his palms” wanting to “feel the loss” of her character’s soul.
Mr Rush also denied touching Ms Norvill on her lower back above her jeans while he was waiting to carry her on stage and said he did not put his hand inside her shirt.
Tom Blackburn: “You moved your fingers along the waistline of her jeans from right to left?”
Geoffrey Rush: “No I did not do that.”
Mr Blackburn also asked Mr Rush about a text message he allegedly sent Ms Norvill, stating he had been thinking about her more than is “socially acceptable”.
It was put to Mr Rush that he has a daughter aged in her 20s, and he was asked how he would feel if a man over 65 had sent her a similar text.
Mr Rush said his daughter was broad-minded and had “a good sense of humour”.
Mr Rush was quizzed about his claim that he and his wife have become isolated after the media attention that followed The Daily Telegraph‘s reporting.
He acknowledged they have been out to dinner with friends and on one trip to London went to see a “dreadful production” at The Globe Theatre.
“Our social calendar diminished by about 90 per cent,” Mr Rush said.
The hearing continues.