Award-winning actress Judy Davis has told a court that she had heard comments in the film industry that Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush’s career was finished after he was accused of inappropriate behaviour toward a female co-star in a Sydney stage play.
Mr Rush is suing the publisher of Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph newspaper and its journalist, Jonathon Moran, in the Federal Court for defamation over articles published last November that accused the 67-year-old Australian actor of behaving inappropriately toward actress Eryn Jean Norvill during the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of King Lear in 2015 and 2016.
Mr Rush denies the claims against him and argues the articles portrayed him as a pervert and a sexual predator.
Ms Davis – who has won three Emmys, two Golden Globes and has twice been nominated for Academy Awards – told the court Mr Rush had a “very serious heavyweight reputation” as an actor before the articles.
Ms Davis said she had loved working with Mr Rush, who had a “very fine reputation”.
Actress Robyn Nevin testified that she had appeared in the King Lear production and did not see anything to justify Ms Norvill’s complaint.
Ms Nevin said a tearful Ms Norvill had told her during another Sydney Theatre Company production in 2016 that being back at the venue reminded her of the trouble she had had during King Lear months earlier.
Ms Nevin said she thought Ms Norvill was reflecting on the “great struggles” she had playing the character of Cordelia.
Under cross-examination, Ms Nevin denied that Ms Norvill gave any indication of inappropriate sexual behaviour.
Ms Nevin became emotional when she recalled Mr Rush’s “state of confusion” after the articles were published.
After the articles appeared, Ms Norvill texted Ms Nevin that she was “in the eye of the storm”, according to court documents.
The trial before Judge Michael Wigney, without a jury, will continue on Tuesday.
Mr Rush won the best actor Oscar in 1996 for his portrayal of pianist David Helfgott in Shine and was nominated for roles in Shakespeare In Love, Quills and The King’s Speech.”He is also famed for his portrayal of Captain Barbossa in the Pirates Of The Caribbean films.
He received his nation’s highest civilian honour in 2014, the Companion of the Order of Australia for service to the arts.