Actors Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussing have filed a lawsuit against Paramount, accusing the studio of child abuse over a nude scene during the production of the 1968 film Romeo and Juliet, Variety reports.

The two actors, born in 1950 and 1951 respectively, were still teenagers during the filming of the 1968 adaptation of the William Shakespeare play, which was directed and co-written by the Italian filmmaker Franco Zeffirelli. Whiting and Hussing filed a lawsuit in Santa Monica Superior Court on Friday, accusing the movie studio of sexually exploiting them and distributing nude images of adolescent children. Despite garnering four Academy Award nominations, Romeo and Juliet courted controversy over the scene that showed Whiting’s buttocks and Hussey’s breasts.

According to the suit, the actors were told by Zeffirelli that there was to be no nudity in the film. Later in the production, he urged them to perform a bedroom scene in the nude despite initially insisting they would wear flesh-colored underwear. The director, who died in 2019 at age 96, told them to do so “or the picture would fail.” Hussey was just 15 during the filming, while Whiting was 16. 

“What they were told and what went on were two different things,” said Tony Marinozzi, the business manager for both actors. “They trusted Franco. At 16, as actors, they took his lead that he would not violate that trust they had. Franco was their friend, and frankly, at 16, what do they do? There are no options. There was no #MeToo.” They have alleged that Zeffirelli showed them how he would position the camera to ensure there was no nudity, even though the final cut did include nudity.

“Nude images of minors are unlawful and shouldn’t be exhibited,” added Solomon Gresen, attorney for the actors. “These were very young naive children in the ’60s who had no understanding of what was about to hit them. All of a sudden they were famous at a level they never expected, and in addition they were violated in a way they didn’t know how to deal with.”

They are seeking damages “in excess of $500 million,” citing mental anguish and emotional distress.

Following their appearances in the ‘68 version of Romeo and Juliet, the actors only starred in a small number of movies and TV shows. Hussey did, however, have a few notable appearances in films such as 1974’s Black Christmas and 1978’s Death on the Nile