Geoffrey Rush was told by the director of King Lear to be more paternal when touching the body of his dead daughter in the play because the scene was "becoming creepy and unclear", new court documents in the actor's defamation case state.
An account of the incident is revealed in The Daily Telegraph's amended defence lodged in the Federal Court late last week and released publicly on Monday.
The document also includes fresh details about Rush's alleged conduct towards fellow cast member Eryn Jean Norvill who played King Lear's daughter, Cordelia, in the 2015 Sydney Theatre Company production.
The amended truth defence alleges Rush, now 67, during a preview performance "moved his hand so that it traced down the complainant's torso and across the side of her right breast" during a scene when King Lear was meant to be grieving his daughter's death.
"During a cast meeting on the evening following the preview performance ... the director of the production, Neil Armfield, gave the applicant (Rush) an oral direction ... that he should make the scene where he is grieving over Cordelia's dead body more 'paternal' as it was becoming creepy and unclear," the amended defence states.
"Mr Armfield further directed the applicant (Rush) not to stroke the complainant's body but to place his hand lightly on the side of her face and arm instead."
The court documents also allege that during shows Rush placed his hand on Norvill's back when they were backstage.
It's alleged on one occasion he moved his hand under her shirt and "along the waistline of the complainant's jeans brushing across the skin of her lower back".
The touch was light, slow, and deliberate, the Telegraph's amended defence claims. It lasted for 20 to 30 seconds.
During the rehearsal period, it's said Rush simulated groping Norvill's breasts, stuck his tongue out, licked his lips and regularly made jokes about the actress's body that contained sexual innuendo.
Rush is suing the Telegraph's publisher and reporter Jonathon Moran over articles about allegations he behaved inappropriately towards his female colleague. The 67-year-old denies the claims.
The amended defence states Rush treated Norvill as a sexual object which made her feel uncomfortable.
It claims Rush "engaged in conduct of a kind in which only a pervert would engage" and engaged in "sexually predatory behaviour".
Rush's lawyers argue some of the allegations lack precision and there's no explanation why they vary starkly from claims previously made by the Telegraph in an earlier defence.
They've also criticised the Telegraph for publishing the original articles without speaking to Norvill.
The actress only agreed to give her account more than seven months after the first article was published.