Olivia Hussey recalls controversial 'Romeo and Juliet' role at 16, reveals personal tragedies

Olivia Hussey became a movie star at age 15 when she was cast as the most infamous doomed lover in 1968’s “Romeo and Juliet” — and the actress is still in awe she managed to survive fame 50 years later.

The 67-year-old recently penned a memoir titled “Girl on the Balcony” about the many ups and downs she endured in Hollywood.

Hussey nabbed the sought-after role of Juliet in Franco Zeffirelli’s film, which became an international sensation.

“It was actually very overwhelming,” Hussey told Fox News. "Even when we were shooting, we had reporters waiting for an interview during our lunch and tea breaks. And they had come from all over the world.

"I celebrated my 16th birthday during shooting… When the film was released, we traveled all over the world and I couldn’t really spend my teenage years like other teenagers… Everyone would come up to us for a photo, an autograph. But it was the experience of a lifetime really.”

The film stirred headlines even before it was released in theaters. At age 16, Hussey stripped down for a love scene depicting her wedding night alongside her co-star Leonard Whiting [Romeo], who was also 16 when he took on the role.

Despite being visibly topless in the epic drama, Hussey said she felt at ease on set.

“I think because it was done very tastefully,” she explained. “And in Europe, it was very different. In America, it was very taboo. But in Europe a lot of the films had nudity. Nobody really thought much of it. But it was just the fact that I was 16 that got a lot of publicity… The large crew we worked with was whittled down to only the very basic people, a handful of people. It was done later in the day when it wasn’t busy. It was a closed set...

“If you see it, the reality is these two young kids married against their parents’ wishes and have this one night together and then they die… And it wasn’t really banned in any country… And we shot it at the very end of the film. So by that time… we’ve all become a big family… It wasn’t that big of a deal. And Leonard wasn’t shy at all! In the middle of shooting, I just completely forgot I didn’t have clothes on.”

Hussy admitted she and Whiting, now 68, were attracted to each other. They dated, but the budding romance didn’t last long. They remained lifelong friends and even text each other “at least once every 10 days.”

At 17, Hussey found herself smitten with actor Christopher Jones, whom she met through her manager Rudi Altobelli. But soon after they began dating in 1968, he allegedly started physically and emotionally abusing her.

“He hit me a lot,” claimed Hussey. “The abuse started shortly after because he was schizophrenic… I was just a 17-year-old with a mad crush. I was in love. I didn’t know he had any kind of mental illness. Nobody told me that until the first time he hit me… We were just talking and then he suddenly leaned over and punched me.”

Hussey claimed Altobelli warned her about Jones, who allegedly heard voices. The Telegraph previously reported Jones had struggled with his mother’s mental breakdown and death in a Tennessee asylum.

Hussey stood by Jones’ side.

“I did care about him,” said Hussey. “When he was sweet, he was very sweet. But he was not mentally well.”

The relationship lasted for approximately 18 months. Seeking refuge, Hussey moved into Altobelli’s Los Angeles house in 1969 which was previously being rented by actress Sharon Tate, a friend of Hussey’s.

Jan. 6, 2012 - SHARON TATE.Supplied by   Photos, inc.(Credit Image: © Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Sharon Tate  (Zuma Press)

But just five weeks prior to Hussey’s arrival, Tate, who was nearly nine months pregnant with husband Roman Polanski’s child, and four of her companions, were savagely murdered by the Manson family inside the same home.

Hussey said she didn’t fear living inside the house of horrors.

“It was the most peaceful house in Los Angeles and the safest at that time,” she insisted. “There were no bad vibrations from the house… All I felt was Sharon… What I felt when I entered that house was Sharon’s spirit, which was nothing but pure kindness and sweetness. I wasn’t scared.

"We also had a buzzer under the desk in the living room so that if anything strange happened or anyone strange would get on the property, you would just buzz… and in three minutes, the entire Beverly Hills Police Department would be there. So it was actually a very safe house.”

The peace Hussey felt was quickly shattered by her own nightmare. The star claimed that Jones showed up one night unexpectedly. She alleged Jones then brutally attacked and raped her.

“I was terrified,” she said. “I couldn’t cry for help. It was awful… Part of the reason I didn’t want to do the audiobook… I don’t want to relive it. When you get it all out, it’s very cathartic really. But then afterward, you don’t really want to revisit it again. I just did not want to read my book out loud. There were certain events that were extremely traumatizing to me in my life.”

In the book, Hussey alleged she became pregnant, but ended up having an abortion, a decision that broke her heart, but one she didn’t regret. She found comfort in the arms of her friend Dean Paul Martin, the son of Dean Martin. They married in 1971 and had one son Alex, now 45.

“When we met, I was 16,” recalled Hussey. “He came to London to see ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ He introduced himself to me… We became best friends. I started to fall in love with him after that whole tragedy... I realized that I loved him all along. “

Hussey said she found happiness with the Martin family. Dean Sr., in particular, never failed to make her laugh. While Hussey and Dean Paul split in 1979, they remained close friends until his tragic death in a plane crash in 1987 at age 35.

Before Dean Paul’s sudden passing, Hussey found love again with Japanese singer Akira Fuse. They were married from 1980 until 1989. They share a son, 35-year-old Max. She married once more in 1991 to her current husband, rocker David Glen Eisley. They have a daughter, 24-year-old India.

As for Jones, Hussey claimed she last saw him in 1991 while at a Hollywood restaurant. Jones, who gave up acting in the late 1960s, died in 2014 at age 72 from cancer.

“I had already forgiven him years ago,” said Hussey. “If you don’t forgive people, you carry a lot of pain and hurt. You don’t forgive to forget. You forgive for your well-being."

Hussey, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, said she is in remission and was eager to jot her story down. It took nearly four years to complete her book. She also had plenty of advice to share with fans.

“If you’re going to marry someone, marry someone you really like,” she said. “Don’t marry someone… who treats you badly because you feel they’ll change. People do not change. I was lucky that I married three really nice human beings.”