The actors who played Romeo and Juliet in Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 film have filed a lawsuit against Paramount Pictures over a nude scene featuring them.

Olivia Hussey was 15 and Leonard Whiting was 16 when they worked on the movie. The actors, who are now both in their 70s, are suing Paramount Pictures for child abuse, stating that the bedroom scene in the film amounts to sexual exploitation.

The suit says that the company is guilty of distributing nude pictures of adolescents, per a report by Variety. It goes on to add that Zeffirelli coaxed them into doing the scene by saying that "the picture would fail" without it and that "millions were invested" in it.

It claims that Zeffirelli, who passed away in 2019, had assured them that there would be no actual nudity and that they would wear flesh-coloured undergarments while filming the scene.

He had also assured them the camera would be positioned in a way that no nudity would be captured on the camera. The suit alleges that the director was dishonest with the actors and that they were filmed naked without their knowledge. They have sued the studio in Los Angeles County Superior Court for sexual abuse, sexual harassment and fraud, per an AP report.

"What they were told and what went on were two different things. 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," Tony Marinozzi, the business manager of Hussey and Whiting said.

The complaint claims damages in excess of $500 million for the "mental anguish and emotional distress" that the actors suffered over the years. Paramount has not yet released a statement addressing the lawsuit.

Earlier, Hussey had defended the scene stating that it was "needed for the film" and that Zeffirelli had done it tastefully.

Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting
Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey in Romeo and Juliet, 1968. Image/Flickr