Geoffrey Rush makes feature film return in Storm Boy after allegations surface
Veteran actor Geoffrey Rush returns to the big screen after facing allegations from female colleagues of inappropriate behaviour, but his Storm Boy co-star Jai Courtney hopes the controversy will not stop people from seeing the film.
- Geoffrey Rush did not attend the Storm Boy premiere in Adelaide
- Co-star Jai Courtney says the allegations are Rush’s personal business
- Director Shawn Seet said Rush’s work on the film was “exemplary”
Rush stars in the retelling of the classic 1976 Australian film — based on the children’s book by Colin Thiele — about a boy who rescues and befriends pelicans.
The film is being released in Australia on January 17 and has also been picked up by an American distributor, with a US premiere expected in April.
Rush has not been seen on the publicity tour for the film and did not attend the premiere in Adelaide on Sunday, despite being a central character.
Last month Orange Is The New Black star Yael Stone made allegations of inappropriate behaviour about Mr Rush while working with him in 2010 and 2011.
He has denied the allegations and said in a statement “the allegations … are incorrect and in some instances have been taken completely out of context” and he “sincerely and deeply” regretted if he had caused Stone “any distress”.
Rush is also awaiting the decision in his defamation proceedings against the publisher of The Daily Telegraph newspaper and one of its journalists over stories alleging he behaved inappropriately towards another colleague.
Rush’s lawyer, Bruce McClintock, SC, told the court his client’s reputation had been “smashed and destroyed” by The Daily Telegraph’s articles.
Storm Boy director Shawn Seet said at the premiere that Mr Rush’s work in the film was “exemplary and beautiful” and he felt the film stood on its own.
“I’m hoping audiences will see the film for itself, it’s a beautiful film,” he said.
Courtney also stars in Storm Boy, but said he did not act alongside Rush as their characters exist in different timelines in the story.
Courtney has become a leading Hollywood actor in recent years, landing key roles in the Die Hard, Terminator and DC superhero franchises.
He said the allegations of inappropriate behaviour against Mr Rush were his personal business and said he hoped it did not impact on people’s decision to see Storm Boy.
“Let’s hope that’s not the case, but it is what it is,” he said.
“We’re just here to stand in front of the project we’re really proud of and that we had a great time making.
“And we know we’ve made a wonderful piece of cinema, so that’s the focus.”
The film was shot in South Australia in 2017 and was initially touted for a release last year, but was pushed back.
The South Australian Government contributed $500,000 towards the film, which is also reported to be what Mr Rush was paid for his role.
An increasingly common dilemma
Storm Boy is not the first film to be shot before a star faced allegations of inappropriate behaviour, leaving distributors with a dilemma.
Kevin Spacey’s character was killed off from the Netflix series House of Cards and he was cut from All The Money In the World, after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.
His scenes for that film were reshot with Christopher Plummer stepping into the role.
Others, however, have forged on.
Another Spacey film, Billionaire Boys Club, pushed ahead with a cinematic release last August and tanked at the US box office, earning just $425 in its opening weekend.
The distributor for Billionaire Boys Club, Vertical Entertainment, defended its decision to push ahead with the film’s release, telling TheWrap in a statement in June:
“We hope these distressing allegations pertaining to one person’s behaviour — that were not publicly known when the film was made almost 2.5 years ago — do not tarnish the release.
“We don’t condone sexual harassment on any level and we fully support victims of it.
“At the same time, this is neither an easy nor insensitive decision to release this film in theatres, but we believe in giving the cast, as well as hundreds of crew members who worked hard on the film, the chance to see their final product reach audiences.”