Actress, producer, philanthropist, feminist and political activist. Olivia Wilde is a force to be reckoned with, writes Pamela Jane Kearns.
Olivia Wilde is a true Hollywood original. With her sculpted cheekbones, trademark husky voice and cat-like eyes, she’s startlingly beautiful but unconventionally so. She has a natural sense of humour, a flair for off-the-wall conversation and possesses that rare quality found in few celebrities – having something interesting to say about herself and the world. There’s no if, buts, or maybes about it, Olivia Wilde marches to the beat of her own drum.
The 31-year-old brunette hails from a long line of intellectual heavyweights. Growing up in Washington DC, the daughter of Andrew Cockburn, an Irish journalist, and Leslie Cockburn, a TV producer and writer, she was immersed in the worlds of literature, film and politics from an early age. Novelist Evelyn Waugh is a relative and her well-connected parents hung out with the likes of Mick Jagger, Salman Rushdie and Steven Spielberg. It’s probably unsurprising, then, that she chose her stage name in memory of legendary playwright Oscar. “I changed mysurname to Wilde as I always knew I would have a pen name of sorts – it runs in the family,” she says.
Olivia admits that she knew she wanted to be an actress by the age of two and she credits her career choice to her unconventional and creative upbringing.“My parents treated me more or less as an adult from the get-go,” she told Esquire. “Whenever I was being kind of a pill, whining, my parents would say, ‘Oh, Olivia, don’t be boring, like, don’t whine. Whining is boring. Do something interesting. So that was my only goal as a kid: to not be boring. And that probably had a lot to do with the choices I made subsequently.”
Bright, ambitious and beautiful, Olivia chose acting over medicine. She studied briefly at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin, and landed her breakout role on the second season of The O.C. as Alex, a sassy, tough-talking blond bisexual who helped Mischa Barton’s character explore her sapphic side (yes, they kissed; yes, she sizzled). But it was as Dr. Remy “Thirteen” Hadley in House M.D. (2004) that she achieved international stardom. She has since starred or co-starred in numerous films including films TRON: Legacy (2010), Cowboys & Aliens (2011), Her (2013), The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013), Drinking Buddies (2013), Rush (2013), The Lazarus Effect (2015) and Let it Snow (2015).
You might be forgiven for assuming that Olivia is just another actress who exploited her beauty and landed a few lucky breaks but she has artfully managedher career by picking credible indie projects alongside the big Hollywood blockbusters, which have made her a household name. She also rejected her natural doll-like loveliness by dying her blonde hair brown; a strategic move to be taken more seriously as an actress.”I’m a natural blonde, but I feel like a brunette,” she told The New York Observer in 2007. “I feel like people treat me now how I should be treated. People used to be shocked, when I was blond, that I wasn’t stupid. I used to get these comments that I swear people thought were compliments. Like, “Oh! You’re smart” -like they couldn’t believe it. “
And she’s not afraid to stand up against the misogyny of the press who tried to write her off as just another piece of piece of hot totty. For her performance as a writer in the film ‘The Third Person’, a GQ Magazine review of the film stated that Olivia was ‘too attractive’ to play a believable writer. A quote from that article; “With that tush, who’d need to be literate? Who’d want to?” This, understandably, led to Olivia hitting back at the magazine, tweeting “Kiss my smart a** GQ.” All of these instances have led to Olivia solidly cementing her place as somewhat of a people’s champion, or at least ‘women’s champion’.
And if her career reads like a Hollywood blockbuster, her personal life might just be the stuff of a Disney fairytale. Olivia wed Italian prince Tao Ruspoli when she was just 19; eloping just six months after they met ( which, technically, made her a princess). She later said the ceremony occurred in an abandoned school bus because it was the only place where they could be completely alone, as the marriage was a secret at the time. Their union lasted eight years before she andRuspoli announced that they were separating in February 2011.Following the breakup she was linked to a slew of eligible bachelors such as Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake and Bradley Cooper, before finally settling down with actor Jason Sudeikis in 2011. In 2014 she gave birth to a son, Otis.
Outspoken as ever, she criticised the pressures placed on women to lose weight after giving birth.Speaking to ABC News, sheadded that she hasn’t allowed other people’s expectations to push her into dropping her baby weight. ‘There are bizarre and unrealistic expectations placed on new mothers about what they should do with a body that’s just produced a human being,’ she said at the launch of Revlon’s Love Is On campaign.’But I try not to let that get to me. For me, it’s just about feeling good. That’s just what kind of has gotten me through. Do I feel good? Yes. Do I feel like I need to work on myself a little bit? Yeah. That’s all a part of self love.”
With a keen interest in politics and social change, Olivia is involved with various philanthropic activities and fundraising events for charity; including The American Foundation for Equal Rights, Artists for Peace and Justice, Global Poverty Project Millennium Campus Network and PETA to name but a few. In 2013, she launched the philanthropic company Conscious Commerce, with the mission to create a guide for conscious living by promoting the causes, brands, people and lifestyles that are forging a new paragon of living. In line with the Conscious Commerce mission, Olivia also recently signed on to be the face of H&M’s latest Conscious Exclusive Collection, which is made completely using organic and recycled materials.
The collection launched in April of this year, and enjoyed a star-studded opening event in NYC, which included a pop-up shop inside the Times Square location, where other sustainable and ethical fashion brands were invited to unite with Conscious Commerce and H&M to become part of the movement towards a better, more sustainable fashion future.Shoppers are able to do their bit by donating their clothes to H&M’s garment recycling program and in turn will be helping improve the lives of cotton farmers and tackle climate change.
It’s safe to say that this multi-talented trailblazer shows no signs of slowing down.Fresh off of her performance in the Oscar-nominated feature film ‘Her’, Olivia produced and starred in the drama Meadowland, which premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. She earned rave reviews for her emotionally charged performance as a mother coping with the heartbreak following her young son’s disappearance.
No doubt her star will continue to rise.
Meadowland is set to hit cinemas in October 2015