Image: AP

Geoffrey Rush insisted that he did not act inappropriately toward a fellow actor on the set of King Lear, and cried on the witness stand during the second day of his defamation trial in Australia, Buzzfeed reports.

The actor is suing the publishers of Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph and journalist Jonathan Moran after the paper published allegations that he’d sexually harassed a cast member during the 2015-2016 production of the Shakespeare play. The publisher’s defense, based on a statement from the alleged victim, Eryn Jean Norvill, holds that Rush “traced his hand down her torso and across the right side of her breast during a scene on stage when Rush, as King Lear, is grieving the dead body of Cordelia.”

But Rush explained that he couldn’t have done that, because his preparation for the scene included envisioning the death of his own daughter. From Buzzfeed:

Rush choked back tears on the stand as he explained he would imagine the death of his own daughter to prepare for conveying the “raw, primal grief” of this scene.

“For this scene I’ve always imagined it was my own real life daughter and she’d been hit by a bus on the street near where we lived ... And I knew she was gone. I carried her to the footpath and every night I would reinvent that scene in my mind,” he said. “I needed that trigger.”

Rush denied a series of allegations made in the Nationwide News defence about his behaviour towards Norvill while on set and in rehearsals.

“Did you ever intentionally touch her on the breast?” asked Rush’s barrister Bruce McClintock SC.

“No,” replied Rush.

Rush filed the lawsuit after apparently becoming so distraught by the accusations he all but stopped eating. He said on the stand that the report “made me want to give up this profession, because I was deeply embarrassed by it,” he said.