Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush won his defamation case on Thursday against a Sydney newspaper publisher and journalist over reports he had been accused of inappropriate behavior toward an actress.
The 67-year-old Australian had sued The Daily Telegraph’s publisher and journalist Jonathon Moran over two stories and a poster published in late 2017.
Australian Federal Court Judge Michael Wigney ruled that Rush had been defamed. Wigney awarded an initial payment of 850,000 Australian dollars ($610,000) in damages, but lawyers will return to court in May when the judge determines special additional damages and costs.
Rush outside court thanked his family for their support. “There are no winners in this case. It’s been extremely distressing for everyone involved,” he told reporters.
Wigney was scathing of the newspaper’s reporting.
“This was, in all the circumstances, a recklessly irresponsible piece of sensationalist journalism of the very worst kind,” the judge said. “It was difficult to avoid the conclusion that it was calculated to damage.”
The reports alleged inappropriate behavior by Rush while he was starring in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of “King Lear” in 2015 and 2016.
His three-week trial before the judge ended in November.
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 his nation’s highest civilian honor in 2014, the Companion of the Order of Australia, for service to the arts.