SYDNEY • The headline read King Leer, but the article last year did not name the accuser nor detail the conduct.
On Tuesday, News Corp's Australian arm, which is being sued by Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush over articles saying he was the subject of a complaint to the Sydney Theatre Company, called on Eryn Jean Norvill, who is in her 30s, to give evidence. She was his co-star, playing Lear's daughter in a 2015 production of King Lear.
She told an Australian court that he touched her on the breast and humiliated her with sexual innuendo.
Norvill, her voice at times breaking with emotion, said Rush, 67, constantly behaved inappropriately towards her.
"He would look at me and smile and cup his two hands and lick his lips, raise his eyebrows, bulge out his eyes - sometimes he'd, like, growl."
In one rehearsal, when she was playing dead in a climactic scene, Norvill said she opened her eyes to discover Rush simulating groping her breasts. In a performance of the scene, she said he stroked her right breast slowly with his fingers.
"It didn't feel like an accident," she noted, adding that his behaviour made her feel humiliated, belittled and put her on "high alert" around the actor, whom she had previously idolised.
She did not confront him at the time because she "was at the bottom of the rung in terms of hierarchy".