Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush has denied claims he acted inappropriately toward an actress more than seven years ago.
Yael Stone, who appeared in “Orange is the New Black” on Netflix, said in a series of interviews with Australia’s ABC News and The New York Times that Rush sent sexually suggestive text messages, exposed himself and attempted to watch her shower during their stint together in “Diary of a Madman” at Sydney’s Belvoir Street Theatre in 2010 and 2011.
Rush, who starred as Captain Hector Barbossa in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise and won an Academy Award for his portrayal of pianist David Helfgott in “Shine,” was 59 at the time. Stone was 25 and played a relatively minor part in the play, according to the ABC.
In a statement to CNN, Rush said that Stone’s allegations were incorrect.
“From the outset I must make it clear that the allegations of inappropriate behavior made by Yael Stone are incorrect and in some instances have been taken completely out of context,” Rush said.
“However, clearly Yael has been upset on occasion by the spirited enthusiasm I generally bring to my work. I sincerely and deeply regret if I have caused her any distress. This, most certainly, has never been my intention.”
“As I have said in the past, I abhor any behavior that might be considered as harassment or intimidation to anyone – whether in the workplace or any other environment.”
Stone told the ABC she waited years to come forward with the allegations due to fears that publicly accusing a major star could ruin her career.
In her interview with the Times, Stone also said Australia’s defamation laws deterred her from coming forward. The laws place the burden on publishers to prove allegations are true.
Those who sue for defamation in the United States, however, must prove allegations are false. Public figures who pursue defamation cases face an even bigger hurdle, as they must prove both the statement is false and the publisher acted with reckless disregard for the truth.
Rush sued Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph for defamation after it published allegations he acted inappropriately during a production of King Lear in Sydney in 2015-2016. A judge is expected to hand down a decision in that case in early 2019.
CNN’s Angus Watson contributed to this report