Olivia Hussey on Romeo and Juliet

Just trawling through some old issues of The Darkside, and there an interview with Olivia Hussey in Issue #122. Ms Hussey, of course, is possibly best known now for her role in Black Sunday, but she was also no stranger to European Cinema, also appearing in Micheal Anderson’s La bottega dell’orefice and Antonio Isasi’s Summertime Killer, not to mention bigger budget, better known films like Death on the Nile. Here’s what she says about making her debut in Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet

“Well, it was a lot to digest and I was very, very young. I was only 15 and it was a lot of things quickly. I was always very shy and private and during that time I was the most famous young actress in the world. I got so afraid of people and felt like I was living in a glass bowl. It was very tough at that age and at that time to live with that. But to play a role like Juliet was incredible. Roles like that, as you know, do not come along that often’.

Considering she was such a talented actress, it’s a shame that she’s not as well known nowadays. But, then again, she’s still done a lot better than her co-star in that film, Leonard Whiting (who was just as feted for his performance in the international festivals). Whiting only made a handful of other films (including Comencini’s Infanzia, vocazione e prime esperienze di Giacomo Casanova, veneziano (69)) before disappearing from the screen in the early seventies. Here’s an interesting Leonard Whiting tribute site that has a little info about what’s happened to him since then.


  1. Romeo and Juliet has held up very well, even after 40 years, and points to Zeffirelli’s brilliance in how he approached telling the story. Olivia Hussey was certainly a big part of the movie’s success, which by the way virtually saved the struggling Paramount with a $50 million return on costs of $1.5 million. Whiting has managed to sustain himself over the years in part because of the residuals that still come in because the movie keeps finding an audience on DVD. I doubt the DiCaprio version will be able to say the same 40 years from now.

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