Geoffrey Rush announced Saturday he's stepping down as president of Australia's screen industry academy, days after a theater company revealed it had received a complaint against the Oscar-winning actor of "inappropriate behavior." Rush has denied any such behavior at the Sydney Theatre Company. Media reports this week said the allegation dated from Rush's starring role in the leading Australian theater's staging of William Shakespeare's King Lear two years ago. Rush, 66, said he stepped down as president of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts ahead of the academy's annual televised awards in Sydney on Wednesday.
"Certain recent media reports have made untenable allegations concerning my standing in the entertainment community. It is unreasonable that my professional colleagues should be somehow associated with such allegations," Rush said in a statement to the AP. "In the circumstances, I have decided to step aside in my ambassadorial role as president of AACTA effective immediately and until these issues have been resolved," he said. "This decision has not been made lightly. However, in the current climate of innuendo and unjustifiable reporting, I believe the decision to make a clean break to clear the air is the best for all concerned," he added. The Sydney Theatre Company has not disclosed details of the allegation. It said the complainant requested that the allegation be dealt with confidentially, and did not want Rush notified or involved in any investigation.