Geoffrey Rush announced Saturday that he would “step aside” as president of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts in the wake of unspecified accusations of “inappropriate behaviour” two years ago at the Sydney Theatre Company.
“We have been deeply concerned about the situation and support a course of action that both respects Geoffrey’s rights to the presumption of innocence and due process, but also acknowledges good corporate governance in these circumstances,” the AACTA said in a statement.
The organization, which is hosting its annual awards ceremony on Wednesday, declined to comment further.
Rush, an Oscar winner for “Shine,” said he wished to spare the AACTA any awkwardness while he was still under the cloud of suspicion. “It is unreasonable that my professional colleagues should be somehow associated with such allegations,” he said through his lawyer.
“This decision has not been made lightly,” he added in his statement. “However, in the current climate of innuendo and unjustifiable reporting, I believe the decision to make a clean break to clear the air is the best for all concerned.”
On Wednesday, the Sydney Theatre Company publicly confirmed that it had “received a complaint alleging that Mr Geoffrey Rush had engaged in inappropriate behaviour” during a production of “King Lear” in 2015.
The complaint came in 21 months ago, after the revival had ended, but the accuser asked to remain anonymous and didn’t want Rush to be informed or involved in any investigation, according to Australia’s Daily Telegraph.
In a statement from his reps on Thursday, Rush denied he had ever behaved inappropriately and expressed frustration that the theater company has declined to disclose any specifics about the allegations.
“There has been no provision of any details, circumstances, allegations or events that can be meaningfully responded to,” his rep said in a statement. “It is a great disappointment to Mr Rush that STC has chosen to smear his name and unjustifiably damage his reputation.”
The statement added, “Until there is the decency afforded to Mr Rush of what the ‘inappropriate behaviour’ actually is, then there is nothing more that can be said at this stage.”