"Romeo & Juliet" Star Olivia Hussey Reflects On Almost Throwing Away Her Career And Relentlessly Fighting Breast Cancer

Date August 9, 2018 18:07

Many actors and actresses enter the film industry with a genuine passion for movies, while others crave fame and love, living in spotlight. Olivia Hussey is an example of a movie star who got turned off by the public attention immediately after finding success and struggled through years to try and focus strictly on the art of acting.

The innocence of a young mind

Olivia Hussey broke into fame with her portrayal of Juliet Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo & Juliet (1968). Back then, she was a bright-eyed 16-year-old girl, who wasn't prepared for the sudden fame that dropped on her shoulders.


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Deep inside, Olivia always knew she wanted to try on different characters, so the acting career was inevitable for her. As she told The Guardian:

I used to walk around the house with a towel on my head pretending to be a nun. One day, I just said, 'I don’t know about being a nun. I like pretending to be a nun'. Maybe if I was an actress, I could pretend to be a nun and still be me.

The role of Shakespeare's Juliet is perhaps one of the most coveted for all actresses. She's one of the most prominent literary characters, and Olivia Hussey got her turn playing the innocent heroine with a tragic future, without knowing she would become one in real life. 


Hussey revealed that while being Juliet was a great experience for her, she didn't like the media attention and promotion that inevitably comes with each movie:

I loved playing Juliet. The only part I didn’t like was all the PR. It was exhausting, and I was this wild little thing.

The spotlight never became easier for Hussey and, in a way, put breaks on her career.

Running away

After Romeo & Juliet conquered the screens and made Olivia the actress to look out for, many expected her to take over Hollywood, but she had to take a different path. As Hussey told The Telegraph:

It all happened so fast, I never had the chance to adapt to the fame. It overwhelmed me, so I just ran away from it the first chance I got.


Hussey didn't take any roles for 3 years after her breakout role. She found it hard to focus on her craft when press watched her every move and waited for what she would do next. According to Olivia:

You have to understand that I grew up with the whole world watching. One moment, I was just a girl acting in a movie, and then I was internationally famous, touring the world and getting mobbed, giving endless interviews. By the time all the publicity work was done, I was exhausted. I couldn't wait to get out of the spotlight.

Talent couldn't sleep

But she did found strength in herself to keep going, because she was still passionate about acting and couldn't stay aside, knowing how many different characters are still waiting to be brought to life by her talent.


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In 1977, she reunited with Zeffirelli for TV miniseries Jesus of Nazareth, in which she played Mary, the mother of Jesus.

After this role, Hussey realized the appeal of keeping a low profile and sticking with television movies, since they don't attract as much media attention. She was finally free to be an actress she always wanted to be.

In 2002, Olivia got the chance to play the character of her dreams – Mother Theresa. Hussey admired her life and knew she had something special in her to do it justice:

I've wanted to play her for 20 years. I'm a very spiritual person and admire her deeply. Before she died, I asked for her blessing to portray her and she gave it. I also asked the Pope's blessing and received it.


Off-screen tragedy

After finally being in peace with her career and personal life, Olivia faced another obstacle. In 2008, Jussey was diagnosed with breast cancer, but she had enough strength to battle it.

The actress did relapse in 2016, but she kept fighting and came out victorious once again. She told Parade

Above all, you must have faith!


She always had faith in herself, and it keeps her going to this day.

Enjoying life

Today, Olivia Hussey is a realized actress and a mother. She's been with her third husband, David Glen Eisley, since 1991, who she shares daughter India with. In addition, Hussey has two more children from previous marriages.


They have a beautiful family and often post cute photos together on their social media.


Dad x #happyfathersday

Публикация от India Eisley (@indiaeisley)


New Year "selfie" with "The Grammer Gang." Great folks, Great nite😎✌️🥃🥃🥃

Публикация от David Eisley (@david_glen_eisley)

The 67-year-old just released her new biography, "The Girl on the Balcony," so that everyone can learn about her life story firsthand.

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Breast Cancer