Craig McLachlan’s colleague was under “suicide watch” after allegations of sexual harassment were brought against the actor, the court said.
A colleague and friend of Craig McLachlan told the court that he felt he was under “suicide watch” when allegations of the Australian actor’s sexual harassment of his co-stars aired.
Mr McLachlan is suing his former co-star Christy Whelan Brown, ABC and Fairfax Media for defamation in the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
The 56-year-old claims media companies and Ms. Whelan Brown defamed him by publishing stories in January 2018 that he says falsely depicted him as harassing and intimidating female performers on The Rocky Horror Picture Show. in 2014. He denies the allegations.
Welsh-born actor and singer Christian Lavercombe, who has played the role of Riff Raff on The Rocky Horror Picture Show about 2,000 times, appeared via audiovisual link on the seventh day of the trial on Tuesday.
He told the court that he supported McLachlan the day the charges were announced.
Mr Lavercombe told the court that Mr McLachlan knew the stories would air ahead of time but “didn’t know what they were going to talk about or what they were about”.
The Welsh actor, who testified around 1 a.m. local time from Liverpool in the UK, stopped by Mr MacLachlan’s guest room and received a message saying the story had “been in the paper”.
“I was a little nervous about this because I showed it on my phone without showing it to him, read it and thought it was complete,” Mr Lavercombe told the court.
“I suggested that he turn off the TV because I was afraid that this story would go further.
“I didn’t know what to do in this situation.”
Mr Lavercombe told the court that Mr McLachlan “was out of his mind”, was incredibly nervous and “aged about 30 years overnight”.
Mr McLachlan looked “feeble” and was shocked when the news broke, Mr Lavercombe told the court.
Six months after the publications went on the air, Mr Lavercombe visited his friend before leaving the country and told the court that Mr McLachlan had picked him up at the airport in full disguise.
“He was wearing a hat, sunglasses, the hat was pulled right down… I think it was one of the first times he left the house in three to four months,” Mr Lavercombe told the court.
“He was a completely different person…he seemed very old and ill.”
Mr. Lavercombe also testified that Ms. Whelan Brown had a “difficulty” during rehearsals and was always asking the director questions.
He told the court that the actors were very affectionate and often hugged and kissed as they greeted each other.
“Mr McLachlan and Ms Whelan Brown often told jokes to each other … they have a very similar sense of humour,” Mr Lavercombe told the court.
“The jokes were risqué and funny, and people laughed… they egged each other on.”
Mr Lavercombe told the court that Ms Whelan Brown often joked about making fun of co-star Erica Heynatz.
“She (Ms. Whelan Brown) always passed them off as jokes, but talked about being transgender, calling her ‘Man in Hands’,” he said.
“Erica is quite tall and talked about being a man but said it was a joke.”
Mr MacLachlan’s partner, orchestra conductor Vanessa Scammell, returned to the stand where she denied lying to defense counsel Michael Hodge QC.
Mr. Hodge questioned Ms. Scammell, alleging that she had lied to the jury in order to “protect Mr. MacLachlan.”
“No, not me,” she replied.
The trial continues.