Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush has vehemently denied an allegation of
Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush has vehemently denied an allegation of "inappropriate behaviour”. Jordan Strauss

Rush takes break to 'clear the air' over bad behaviour claim

OSCAR-winning actor Geoffrey Rush has stepped down as president of the Australian screen industry academy following a complaint of "inappropriate behaviour” against him.

The stage and screen veteran, 66, denies the claim, which dates back to 2015 when he was starring in a production of King Lear with the Sydney Theatre Company.

In a statement, his lawyer said the actor was unaware of the exact nature of the complaint. He also accused the STC of deciding to "smear his name and unjustifiably damage his reputation”.

Rush, who starred in Pirates of the Caribbean and The King's Speech, has stepped down as president of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts "until these issues have been resolved”, adding the decision has not been "made lightly”.

His statement said: "It is unreasonable that my professional colleagues should be somehow associated with such allegations. 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.”

The academy said it was "deeply concerned about the situation and supports a course of action that both respects Geoffrey's rights to the presumption of innocence and due process, but also acknowledges good corporate governance”.

A spokesman for the theatre company said it had been approached for comment by a journalist from the Sydney Morning Herald, and "responded truthfully that it had received such a complaint”.

They added that the complainant had requested that the matter be dealt with internally "and did not want Rush notified or involved in any investigation”.

The Queensland-born actor, one of a handful of performers to have won the "triple crown” of acting - an Academy Award for film, an Emmy for his TV work and the Tony Award for theatre, is married to actress Jane Menelaus, with whom he has two children.

The Daily Telegraph cited two unnamed sources who claimed an actress had accused Rush of touching her inappropriately.

Rush's lawyers said his "regard, actions and treatment of all the people he has worked with has been impeccable beyond reproach”.

The actor is the latest in a long line of high-profile men to have seen their names in the public eye in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations, which have unleashed a tidal wave of complaints from women and some men in all sectors across the world concerning alleged inappropriate behaviour from men in positions of power.

Rachel Roberts, The Independent