Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush has denied allegations of inappropriate behavior during his run starring in the Sydney Theatre Company’s (STC) production of King Lear in 2015 and 2016, in a since-deleted report by the Daily Telegraph.
The Telegraph reported on Thursday (local time in Australia) that the STC had “received a complaint alleging that Mr. Geoffrey Rush had engaged in inappropriate behavior,” quoting an STC spokeswoman. The story did not detail what the alleged inappropriate behavior was and did not say that it was sexual in nature. Hours after its publication, the report was deleted from the Telegraph‘s website and deleted all tweets associated with the story. The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to the Daily Telegraph for comment.
Rush vehemently denied the allegation in an initial statement issued by his law firm, HWL Ebsworth. “Mr. Rush has not been approached by the Sydney Theatre Company and the alleged complainant nor any representative of either of them concerning the matter you have raised,” the letter reportedly states.
Quoting the legal statement, the report claimed Rush said he had never been involved in any “inappropriate behavior” and that his “regard, actions and treatment of all the people he has worked with has been impeccable beyond reproach.”
“Further, he has not been informed by them of the nature of the complaint and what it involves,” the statement reads. “In the circumstances, if such a statement has been issued by the STC it is both irresponsible and highly damaging to say the least. Your ‘understanding’ of what has occurred is, with the greatest respect, simply fishing and unfounded. It does not warrant comment except that it is false and untrue.”
The STC said it is still working “with the complainant to minimize the risk of future instances of the alleged behavior occurring in its workplace.” The complainant in question asked for their identity to be withheld.
Rush released a second statement on Thursday, saying, “The moment I became aware of rumours of a complaint I immediately phoned and spoke to senior management at the Sydney Theatre Company asking for clarification about the details of the statement. They refused to illuminate me with the details. I also asked why this information was being withheld, and why, according to standard theatre practice the issue had not been raised with me during the production via stage management, the director, my fellow actors or anyone at management level. However, no response was forthcoming.”
Rush’s lawyer Nicholas Pullen added: “In this current environment, “inappropriate behavior” may mean abuse, bullying or other forms of reprehensible activity. These are matters that deserve forthright and objective levels of discussion. It must be made clear from the outset that Mr. Rush abhors any form of maltreatment of any person in any form.”
The issue of harassment in the workplace has dominated the Australian news this week as allegations of indecent assault, sexual harassment and bullying against Don Burke, the host and producer of former top-rated Nine Network lifestyle program, Burke’s Backyard, were detailed by former female employees. In total, over 200 women have come forward with complaints against Burke since Fairfax Media and the Australian Broadcasting Corp broke the story earlier in the week.
In what’s been dubbed Australia’s “Weinstein moment,” Tracy Spicer, one of the journalists who uncovered the allegations against Burke, says she has a dossier that names 65 people working in the Australian media and entertainment industry as the subjects of over 500 complaints. It was not revealed if Rush is one of the those names.
“This is only the beginning of an investigation that will take years, until all workplaces are safe for those within their walls,’ Spicer said.
Updated at 5.38PM PST to reflect a new statement from Geoffrey Rush and that the Daily Telegraph had deleted its story from its website.