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Craig McLachlan manipulated actresses, and played them off each other with insults and promises of role changes during and after the 2014 run of the Rocky Horror Show, a jury has heard.
Stepping into the witness box for a fifth day in his defamation trial against Fairfax and the ABC, McLachlan, 56, was questioned about whether he had used insults when referring to particular actresses behind their back during the theatrical production.
‘You would disparage one female cast member in speaking to another female cast member,’ Mr Hodge said on Monday.
‘No,’ McLachlan replied.
The actor denied describing Erika Haynetz who played Magenta in the production as ‘s***’ and ‘ruining the show’ to another actress Angela Scundi, and said he never referred to a third actress Christie Whelan Browne as ‘a c*** or a bitch’ who would never work in theatre again.
Australian actor Craig McLachlan (pictured with wife Vanessa) was back in the NSW Supreme Court on Monday for his defamation trial against Fairfax and the ABC
Mr Hodge suggested McLachlan had manipulated Whelan Browne into congratulating him for a 2014 Helpmann award win by saying he was privately in her corner during difficulties in the Rocky Horror production.
The actress has said she was disappointed, frustrated and unsupported during that time.
Claims he had supported Whelan Browne were a lie to get her to apologise for not praising him after the win, Mr Hodge suggested.
‘You successfully manipulated her into apologising to you,’ the barrister said.
‘No, I did not, Mr Hodge,’ McLachlan replied.
McLachlan contends his friendship with the actress remained solid throughout the show’s run. However, emails he sent to the show’s director Christopher Luscombe revealed he referred to Whelan Browne as ‘Lucifer’ in June 2014 and as a ‘horror’ in August that year.
Last week, defence barrister Michael Hodge QC took a defamation trial jury through several incidents in which Craig McLachlan was alleged to have been furious at supervisor directions, musicians missing cues, and fellow actors changing their performances without notice
The award-winning performer agreed that he had brought sexual jokes and pranks to The Rocky Horror Show, including deep-throating bananas, masturbating crew members’ arms, kissing and grabbing them, and using the nickname ‘gobbler’ for others in the show.
‘You would peel a banana and shape it in some way so it looked like a penis and then deep-throat it,’ Mr Hodge said.
‘Well the banana’s already the appropriate shape, but yes,’ the actor replied.
He admitted sending Whelan Browne videos of himself fully clothed pretending to masturbate as well as clips where he pretended to orgasm in a toilet.
McLachlan alleges Whelan Browne was herself ‘a notoriously foul-mouthed person’ who was interested in ‘deviant sexual acts’. He has claimed she was dishonest for telling the media she was offended by his conduct.
Craig McLachlan admitted sending a videos of himself, pretending to masturbate, to Christie Whelan Browne (pictured)
Craig McLachlan’s defamation trial has also been shown photos of the actor (left) posing backstage with co-star Christie Whelan (right) when they reportedly met during a 2005 production of the musical Grease
Mr Hodge accused McLachlan of painting a ‘deliberately false’ picture of his relationship with Whelan Browne, questioning whether the actor had indeed recommended that she return for the 2017/18 run of The Rocky Horror Show as he claimed he had.
The jury heard the allegations of sexual assault and harassment stretched back to the 1980s when McLachlan is accused of sticking his hand down the shirt of Neighbours actress Tamasin Ramsay.
He is also alleged to have made lewd remarks to Josie Steele while working on City Homicide in 2008, and touched Anna Samson’s bottom and kissed Tamzen Hayes during the filming of The Doctor Blake Mysteries in 2018.
The jury heard these women were all in their 20s or 30s at the time of the alleged assaults, with McLachlan being a decade or two older.
The NSW Supreme Court hearing continues.
Craig McLachlan denied describing another castmate Erika Haynetz (pictured) as ‘s***’