SYDNEY — “Orange Is the New Black” actress Yael Stone was revealed on Friday as the potential witness that a Sydney judge refused to allow to testify against Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush in his recent defamation suit.
The 67-year-old Australian actor won an Australian Federal Court suit last month against Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph and journalist Jonathan Moran over reports in 2017 that accused him of inappropriate behavior toward actress Eryn Jean Norvill. Norvill played the daughter of Rush’s character when he starred in a Sydney Theatre Company production of “King Lear” in 2015 and 2016.
Publisher Nationwide News lost a mid-trial bid last November to amend its defense based on Stone’s evidence.
Justice Michael Wigney said the proposed amendment raised new allegations concerning Rush’s conduct and would delay court proceedings and cause him “manifest and palpable” prejudice. The trial by then had run for 12 days and ended three days later.
The judge prohibited Stone from being publicly identified. The Netflix series actress was described in the media as “Witness X.”
Media company Nine Entertainment on Friday successfully applied to the judge to lift the order banning publication of her name.
Stone told The New York Times in December that Rush engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior when they starred in “The Diary of a Madman” on a Sydney stage in 2010.
She said Rush danced naked in front of her in their dressing room, used a mirror to watch her while she showered and sent her occasionally erotic texts.
Rush said in a statement the allegations “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. I sincerely and deeply regret if I have caused her any distress. This, most certainly, has never been my intention,” Rush said at the time.
Wigney found the newspaper articles made Rush out to be a pervert and sexual predator.
After the ruling, Norvill said she was “grateful to Yael Stone who had the courage to speak out.”
Nationwide News and Moran said on Monday they would appeal Wigney’s ruling against them in the defamation trial on the basis that his conduct “gave rise to an apprehension of bias.”
The publisher pointed to a number of factors including the judge’s decisions to disallow the evidence of Stone and “King Lear” actor Colin Moody.
Wigney awarded Rush 850,000 Australian dollars ($594,000) in damages. The actor stands to be awarded more as compensation for loss of earnings.
Rush won the best actor Oscar in 1996 for his portrayal of pianist David Helfgott in “Shine” and was nominated for roles in “Shakespeare In Love,” “’Quills” and “The King’s Speech.” He is also famed for his portrayal of Captain Barbossa in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films.
He received Australia’s highest civilian honor in 2014, the Companion of the Order of Australia, for service to the arts.
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