Geoffrey Rush has stepped down as president of Australia’s screen industry academy following a complaint against the actor of alleged “inappropriate behaviour”.
Earlier this week, it emerged Sydney Theatre Company (STC) received the complaint against the Australian celebrity during his time starring in a production of King Lear in 2015.
In a statement, Rush’s lawyer said the Pirates of the Caribbean star had not been informed of the nature of the complaint, adding that the STC had chosen to “smear his name and unjustifiably damage his reputation” by informing the press about it.
Rush, 66, has now stepped down as president of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) “until these issues have been resolved”.
He said the decision, which comes days ahead of the academy’s annual televised awards in Sydney, has “not been made lightly”.
“Certain recent media reports have made untenable allegations concerning my standing in the entertainment community,” Rush said.
“It is unreasonable that my professional colleagues should be somehow associated with such allegations.”
He added: “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.”
In a statement, the AACTA said it was “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”.
The claims against the Oscar-winning actor first emerged in a story by Sydney’s Daily Telegraph on Thursday.
A spokesperson for the STC said it had been approached by a journalist from the newspaper and “responded truthfully that it had received such a complaint”.
They added: “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.”
Rush claimed he spoke to STC’s senior management and they “refused to illuminate me with the details” of the complaint, adding that “no response was forthcoming” when he asked why they were being withheld.