Geoffrey Rush has denied allegations he behaved inappropriately towards a younger colleague. (AAP: Dean Lewins)
Actor Eryn Jean Norvill told a colleague she was frightened, felt alone and was being “ferociously hounded” by the media as stories about her King Lear season with Geoffrey Rush appeared in a newspaper, according to text messages tendered in a Sydney court.
An emotional text message exchange between Ms Norvill and actor Robin Nevin was today tendered to the Federal Court as part of Mr Rush’s defamation case against Nationwide News — publisher of The Daily Telegraph.
A 2017 article suggested Mr Rush behaved inappropriately towards a young co-star during the Sydney Theatre Company’s 2015-16 season.
It was later revealed that the colleague was Ms Norvill. Mr Rush denied the allegations, claiming the stories defamed him.
Ms Nevin, who played The Fool to Mr Rush’s King Lear, broke down in court as she described how the stories affected the Oscar-winner.
Ms Nevin described, in her text messages, being contacted by media and said she hoped the younger actor would be protected.
“I’m frightened,” Ms Norvill replied in the text message tendered to the court.
“The media are ferociously hounding me. It’s pretty scary.”
“I didn’t ask for any of this.”
Ms Norvill wrote that the Sydney Theatre Company had tried to protect her.
“There are many stories, not just mine,” she texted.
“But I’m fairly alone right now. And the truth is I tried to keep out of it. But here I am, in the eye of the storm. I just want to do my job and feel safe.”
Ms Nevin said Telegraph stories that alleged he did engage in inappropriate conduct shocked Rush and made his actor-wife Jane Menelaus hysterical.
“He was in a state of confusion,” Ms Nevin said.
She described how she and Mr Rush had a similar “deep connection” to their work.
Under cross-examination by Tom Blackburn SC, the barrister for the newspaper, Ms Nevin denied discussing the newspaper allegations with Ms Norvill and denied ever saying to her “I thought Geoffrey had stopped doing that, poor Jane”.
“It is just appalling that you would put those words in my mouth,” Ms Nevin snapped at Mr Blackburn.
Ms Nevin denied that text messages she exchanged with Ms Norvill indicated she thought the allegations might be true.
She said was concerned for Ms Norvill’s welfare and also for Mr Rush’s welfare at the time.
“Both their lives have been damaged by it,” she said.
Mr Rush is suing the Telegraph for defamation over the stories and a newsagent poster that he says portrayed him as a sexual predator and pervert.
Ms Norvilll is expected to give evidence as part of the defence case, which is due to start on Tuesday.