‘Orange Is the New Black’ Star Yael Stone Accuses Geoffrey Rush of Sexual Misconduct

Stone says Rush exposed himself to her when they co-starred in a production of “Diary of a Madman” eight years ago

Last Updated: December 17, 2018 @ 8:48 PM

“Orange Is the New Black” star Yael Stone has come forward with accusations of sexual misconduct against veteran actor Geoffrey Rush.

In a story published by the New York Times Sunday, Stone, who plays Lorna Morello on the Netflix comedy, detailed incidents between her and Rush she says occurred when they co-starred in a production of “The Diary of a Madman” together, eight years ago in Sydney, Australia. She was 25 years old at the time and Rush was 59.

Stone’s claims that Rush sent her inappropriate text messages, tried to watch her shower, and exposed his penis to her while working on the show, come months after Rush sued an Australian tabloid for defamation over sexual misconduct claims made against him by an unidentified “King Lear” co-star, who was later revealed to be Eryn Jean Norvill.

In a statement first given to the Times and then obtained by TheWrap, Rush said “the allegations of inappropriate behavior made by Yael Stone are incorrect and in some instances have been taken completely out of context.”

“However, clearly Yael has been upset on occasion by the spirited enthusiasm I generally bring to my work,” he continued. “I sincerely and deeply regret if I have caused her any distress. This, most certainly, has never been my intention. When we performed in The Diary Of A Madman 8 years ago, I believe we engaged in a journey as artistic comrades. Over the years we have shared correspondence that always contained a mutual respect and admiration. As I have said in the past, I abhor any behavior that might be considered as harassment or intimidation to anyone – whether in the workplace or any other environment.”

In the article published Sunday, Stone told Times’ Bari Weiss that though she knows “truth” is on her side, “there’s an element of terror” in her communication about the topic. The actress says she’s conflicted about how she “enthusiastically and willingly” bantered back in response to Rush’s texts.

“I was so flattered that someone like that would spend their time texting me into the very early hours of the morning,” she said. “Gradually the text messages became more sexual in nature, but always encased in this very highfalutin intellectual language.”

“I’m embarrassed by the ways I participated,” Stone told the Times. “I certainly wouldn’t engage as the person I am now in the way I did when I was 25.”

Stone also detailed “strange intimacies in the dressing room” between her and Rush, where she says he would ask her to take out his contact lenses or remove his costume at intermission and that he would join her, uninvited, when she napped between matinee and evening performances.

The actress says one time Rush used a small mirror held over a shower cubicle to view her naked. “I said some words to the effect of, ‘Bugger off, Geoffrey.’ I was walking a very delicate line where I needed to manage these uncomfortable moments but never, never offend him.”

And when she says he exposed himself to her and danced around naked in a “playful, clownish manner,” she told the Times she responded with “an attitude of, ‘Oh, you’re a very naughty boy.'”

“I didn’t want him to think I was no fun, that I was one of those people who couldn’t take a joke,” Stone said.

Stone told the Times, “There was no part of my brain considering speaking to anyone in any official capacity. This was a huge star. What were they going to do? Fire Geoffrey and keep me?”

Stone told the Times she sent Rush an email last December to address the incidents that occurred during production of “Diary of a Madman,” writing: “In the name of years of friendship I wanted to share with you what I have always been afraid to say. I hope it’s possible for you to receive this in the spirit that it is meant. With a view toward healing.”

Stone says Rush never responded to her, telling the Times: “If Geoffrey had written back and said I’m sorry and offered to work with me to inspire positive change in our industry, it may have transformed both of our lives for the better. I despair that I am now in this situation.”

“The current system is built around the very famous and talented such that there is a lot of yes,” Stone added. “There is not a lot of no. And that can encourage certain behaviors and that can happen incrementally over time to the point where a person may have not heard the word no in a long time. And it might not be their fault. We need compassion for that confusion.”

Rush began fighting his defamation case against the Australian tabloid that published Norvill’s claims against him last year, with the judge expected to hand down a decision in 2019.

Because in Australia the burden is on the publisher to prove accusations are true — rather than on a plaintiff to prove they are false — Stone told the Times she would not have come forward with her accusations if a law firm had not agreed to represent her pro bono, should Rush sue for defamation. However, she will still be personally responsible for damages, should he win.

A representative for Stone did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for any additional comment.

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