Geoffrey Rush has withdrawn from the Australian production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, scheduled for the fall, due to an ongoing defamation case, according to The Australian. The show, in which Rush was tapped to star as Malvolio, was set to conclude Melbourne Theatre Company's 2018 season in November.
“Due to my current circumstances and medical advice, I must withdraw from the upcoming project of Twelfth Night,” Rush said in a statement distributed by MTC and published in The Australian. “I do so with the greatest regret. I know that I would not be able to provide the necessary creative spirit and the professional stamina required for the project.”
Rush is currently suing Sydney newspaper the Daily Telegraph for defamation over articles that alleged the actor was involved in “inappropriate behavior” during a Sydney Theatre Company production of King Lear in 2015.
Rush is an Oscar-winning stage and screen actor known for the films The King's Speech, Shine, and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, among others. He adapted and starred in a Melbourne production of Eugene Ionesco's Exit the King in 2007, which transferred to Broadway in 2009 and won Rush a Tony.