Geoffrey Rush to sue over behaviour claims

'False, demeaning': Rush to sue over accusations

VETERAN Australian actor Geoffrey Rush has broken his silence on the allegations of inappropriate behaviour being made against him, dubbing the claims "intolerable" and announcing he's filed a defamation lawsuit.

Rush, 66, faced media in Melbourne on Friday where he denied the claims that allegedly occurred during his time with the Sydney Theatre Company's production of King Lear in 2015.

The actor said he would be taking legal action against The Daily Telegraph for publishing reports about the claims, which he dubbed "false", "demeaning", and "intolerable".

"It is an action I'm taking in order to redress the slurs, innuendo and hyperbole that they have created around my standing in the entertainment industry and in the greater community," he told reporters. 

"This has created irreparable damage to my reputation, has been extremely hurtful to my wife, my daughter and my son and to my extended family as well as to many colleagues in the film, told vision and theatre industry.

"The situation is intolerable and I must now seek vindication of my good name through the courts."

Following the statement, Rush did not take questions from reporters.

‘Intolerable’ ... Geoffrey addresses the claims on Friday.
‘Intolerable’ ... Geoffrey addresses the claims on Friday.

It's the Oscar winner's first public appearance since the claims were made.

Following last week's reports of the incident, The Sydney Theatre Company confirmed it received a complaint but would not disclose details of the allegations.

"At the time the complaint was made, the complainant requested that the matter be dealt with confidentially, and did not want Mr Rush notified or involved in any investigation," a statement read. The theatre company said it complied "in the interest of the complainant's health and welfare."

Geoffrey Rush makes his first media appearance since the claims.
Geoffrey Rush makes his first media appearance since the claims.

Soon after the allegations were reported, Rush stepped down as the president of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, just days before the organisation's seventh ceremony. He was absent from Wednesday's televised event in Sydney, where stars dodged questions from reporters about the allegations.

When asked about the claims being leveled against Rush, Australian actress Rachel Griffiths said the actor "is not Harvey Weinstein" - referencing the Hollywood mogul who faces multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.

"Geoffrey Rush is not Harvey Weinstein and I have had more than a handful of interactions with Harvey Weinstein," Griffiths told the ABC on the red carpet.

The veteran actor received acclaim for his breakthrough performance in the 1996 film Shine, which earnt him an Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA.

Rush is one of Australia's most respected exports, starring in acclaimed films like Shakespeare in Love , Elizabeth and The King's Speech.

The Daily Telegraph editor Christopher Dore made a statement on the newspaper's website. 

"The Daily Telegraph accurately reported the Sydney Theatre Company received a complaint alleging that Mr Geoffrey Rush had engaged in inappropriate behaviour," he said.

"We will defend our position in court."

The Daily Telegraph reported the matter would go before the Federal Court in Sydney on February 8.

The Daily Telegraph is owned by News Corporation, the publisher of this website.

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