Craig McLachlan allegedly threw tantrums and threatened Rocky Horror Show cast members, court told

Craig McLachlan has been portrayed in court as an allegedly powerful and angry lead actor who threw tantrums, threatened cast members and physically abused actresses.

Defence barrister Michael Hodge QC on Friday took a defamation trial jury through several incidents in which McLachlan, 56, was alleged to have been furious at supervisor directions, musicians missing cues and fellow actors changing their performances without notice.

“Do you accept that you have a temper and a tendency to get angry easily?” the barrister asked.

“No, Mr Hodge,” McLachlan replied.

Hodge told the court the actor had threatened to put music supervisor Tony Castro into hospital after having one of his songs interrupted. Christie Whelan Browne and Tim Maddren, both cast members of the Rocky Horror Show production, claim to have heard this threat.

McLachlan is also accused of yelling and kicking a rubbish bin after being asked to wear a wig and calling other cast members “a bunch of untalented and ungrateful cunts” after Maddren altered his performance during a bed scene in the 2014 stage production.

The actor is suing the ABC, Fairfax and Whelan Browne, 39, for defamation over publications in January 2018 relating to claims of misconduct during the 2014 production of the Rocky Horror Show and other productions.

He has denied the allegations in the publications, and has accused Whelan Browne and two other women of approaching the media for notoriety or money.

McLachlan on Friday admitted he collided with actress Ashlea Pyke on the same night as the other alleged incidents but said he couldn’t remember whether she had injured her ribs and had to take several days off afterwards. He stuck by his account that the pair merely had the wind knocked out of them.

He denied grabbing Whelan Browne’s face in the final scene of the show that night and pushing it aside, and said he had gone to the actress’s room the following day to apologise because she was close to Maddren and was worried the two men were upset with each other.

McLachlan rejected Hodge’s allegations that the apology was for the alleged assault the night before.

While the actor insisted that his friendship with Whelan Browne had not soured during the course of the show, the jury saw emails sent by McLachlan to the director, Christopher Luscombe, in June 2014 describing her as “lucifer” and “selfish, delusional, disrespectful and frankly nasty”.

Another actress, Angela Scundi, alleges the lead actor forced his tongue down her throat at one performance during the show’s final song number while she was playing Columbia.

McLachlan denies that the song’s pacing and lyrics left time for anything other than a “quick peck”, recreating this with his partner Vanessa Scammell multiple times for a Channel Seven interview on the program Spotlight aired in May last year.

“It didn’t happen, it wouldn’t happen and I wouldn’t jeopardise the work,” he told Spotlight.

However, footage from a Perth show played to the jury shows the actor kiss Columbia for a few seconds in the middle of the lyrics.

“Mr McLachlan, we can see it. It’s not momentary peck, is it?” Hodge asked.

“It’s performance, Mr Hodge. It’s not a passionate kiss. It is not passionate kiss,” McLachlan replied.

The actor denies allegations he threatened to end Scundi’s career after she complained to him about the kiss.

Earlier on Friday, McLachlan admitted he may have sat on actress Erika Heynatz’s lap and kissed her neck in the green room of the theatre.

He claims he only did so because Heynatz would frequently “vampire kiss” cast and audience members on their necks during and after the show.

Hodge suggested this was a lie to cover up why he had actually kissed Heynatz’s neck.

The New South Wales supreme court hearing is scheduled to resume on Monday.

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