Geoffrey Rush at the premiere of "Pirates of the Caribbean:...

Geoffrey Rush at the premiere of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" in Los Angeles on May 18, 2017. Credit: AP / Invision / Jordan Strauss

Oscar-winning Australian actor Geoffrey Rush, popularly known for his role as Captain Hector Barbossa in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, is denying claims of inappropriate behavior during a 2015-2016 Sydney Theatre Company production of “King Lear.”

Responding to a statement by the company published Thursday in the Australian tabloid newspaper The Daily Telegraph, Rush, 66, said in his own statement, “The moment I became aware of rumours 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. 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.”

The theater company’s statement was given only to The Daily Telegraph and does not appear on the theater company’s media page alongside other recent statements. According to reports, the statement to the newspaper, whose website is subscription-only, said that sometime after “Lear” ended, the company “received a complaint alleging that Mr Geoffrey Rush had engaged in inappropriate behaviour. . . . The complainant has requested that their identity be withheld.”

A spokeswoman for Sydney Theatre Company told the U.K. newspaper The Guardian Thursday that the company had been asked by a “journalist earlier this month whether it had received a complaint alleging inappropriate behaviour by Mr Rush while he was employed by the company. The STC responded truthfully that it had received such a complaint. At the time the complaint was made, the complainant requested that the matter be dealt with confidentially, and did not want Mr Rush notified or involved in any investigation. . . . STC has at all times been clear that this was an allegation made to (not by) STC and not a conclusion of impropriety.”

Nicholas Pullen, an attorney for Rush, said in a statement that, “In this current environment, ‘inappropriate behaviour’ may mean abuse, bullying or other forms of reprehensible activity. These are matters that deserve forthright and objective levels of discussion. It must be made clear from the outset that Mr Rush abhors any form of maltreatment of any person in any form. His treatment of fellow colleagues and everyone he has worked with is always conducted with respect and the utmost propriety.”

The Daily Telegraph has subsequently run a story saying two actors who have worked with STC are supporting claims by an actress who has accused Rush of inappropriate touching during the production of “Lear.”

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