Days after a Sydney-based theater company received a complaint of “inappropriate behavior” against Geoffrey Rush, the actor has resigned as president of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts.
“Certain recent media reports have made untenable allegations concerning my standing in the entertainment community,” Rush, 66, said in a statement released to the Associated Press through his lawyer, Nicholas Pullen. “It is unreasonable that my professional colleagues should be somehow associated with such allegations. In the circumstances, I have decided to step aside in my ambassadorial role as president of AACTA effective immediately and until these issues have been resolved.
“This decision has not been made lightly,” Rush continued. “However, 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.”
According to the AP, the claim against Rush stems from the Oscar winner’s stint in William Shakespeare’s King Lear, in which he starred from November 2015 to January 2016 at the Sydney Theatre Company. A spokeswoman for the theatre reportedly received a complaint that alleged “Mr. Geoffrey Rush had engaged in inappropriate behavior” after his “engagement with the company had ended.”
Further details of the claim were not divulged.
Rush has denied the accusation. “The moment I became aware of rumors of a complaint I immediately phoned and spoke to senior management at the Sydney Theatre Company asking for clarification about the details of the statement,” he said in an earlier statement.
“They refused to illuminate me with the details. I also asked why this information was being withheld, and why, according to standard theatre practice the issue had not been raised with me during the production via stage management, the director, my fellow actors or anyone at management level. However, no response was forthcoming,” he added.
The Australian Academy, which is set to hold its annual awards ceremony in Sydney on Wednesday, accepted Rush’s decision.
“AACTA acknowledges the decision today of Geoffrey Rush to voluntarily step aside as President of AACTA and accepts and respects his decision to do so,” the organization said in a statement. “We have been deeply concerned about the situation and support a course of action that both respects Geoffrey’s rights to the presumption of innocence and due process, but also acknowledges good corporate governance in these circumstances. We will not be making any further comment at this time.”