Rebel Wilson has yet to find a show she can’t steal. Every role she gets in a movie, no matter how big or small, she crushes so hard that people tend to leave wondering who that blonde girl was. This is most apparent in the Pitch Perfect franchise, as she transformed from a supporting character to a star. Wilson is a household name now, and even though her career seemed to slow down a few years ago—more on that later—her star keeps rising.
So, before Wilson takes over movie and TV screen around the world, read up on some facts about everyone’s favorite Aussie who isn’t named Hemsworth!
After finding some success acting in Australia, Rebel Wilson landed her first Hollywood role—albeit it a small one—in the 2007 movie Ghost Rider. She was credited as Girl in Alley.
Wilson was somewhat of a loner in high school, as she would spend her lunchtime in the library studying by herself. All that hard work paid off in the end, though, as she scored a 99.3% on her Higher School Certificate, which is a pre-University study that students in Australia take during their senior year in high school.
When someone has a larger-than-life personality like Wilson, it’s assumed that they were the same way as a child, but that wasn’t the case for her. Wilson says she was very shy as a kid but decided to step out of her comfort zone when she was 14 and went out of her way to meet new people and make friends. The rest is history.
When Wilson was in high school, she thought that the name Rebel would automatically give off a bad first impression with the teachers, so she decided to go by her middle name, Melanie.
If Wilson would have never caught the acting bug she believes she would have become a lawyer, which makes sense considering she went to school for it and even graduated with a BA in arts and law in 2009. She has never actually practiced law but she uses the knowledge she gained in school to negotiate her own contracts as an actress.
While in South Africa as a youth ambassador, Wilson contracted malaria and experienced a hallucination that would change her life forever. She was in intensive care for two weeks, and during that time she hallucinated that she won an Oscar and delivered a rap instead of the traditional acceptance speech. Once she got healthy, she went back to Australia, joined the Australian Theatre for Young People and has been trying to make that dream a reality ever since.
Wilson may have yet to win that Oscar or even receive a nomination, but she has found success at other award shows, namely the MTV Movie & TV Awards. She’s been nominated five times with two wins: one in 2013 for Best Musical Moment in Pitch Perfect, and one in 2016 for Best Kiss in Pitch Perfect 2.
At the beginning of Wilson’s acting career, she still needed a side job to make enough money to support herself so she worked at a local movie theatre. At one point, she had a role in the movie Fat Pizza while still at her theatre job and reportedly confused a lot of people who saw the movie and then immediately saw her in the theatre sweeping up popcorn.
Rebel Melanie Elizabeth Wilson was born on March 2, 1980, in Sydney, Australia. She had a childhood that most kids would dream of, as her parents were professional dog handlers. They also traveled the country selling dog products, which doesn’t sound as fun.
Wilson originally auditioned for the role of Megan in Bridesmaids and was considered as an alternate if Melissa McCarthy wasn’t able to do the movie. That didn’t end up happening, but the producers loved her so much that they created the female roommate character specifically for her. In the original script, Kristen Wiig’s character only had a male roommate.
Bridesmaids was one of Wilson’s first major acting jobs in America and because of this, she was paid the relatively small amount of $3,000. It would take a while before Wilson would earn a big payday, as even her breakout role in Pitch Perfect only earned her $65,000. It wasn’t until Pitch Perfect 2 that Wilson got that seven-figure deal, earning a reported $2 million with a potential $2 million bonus.
Today, she has a net worth of $16 million.
In 2002, Wilson won one of only four $12,000 scholarships offered by the Australian Theatre for Young People—ATYP—and used that money to move to New York and enrol in the New York Film Academy and the Second City Training Centre.
Wilson would go on to return the favor once she made her mark in Hollywood by donating $15,000 a year for three years to the ATYP under the Rebel Wilson Theatremaker Scholarship. The recipient of the scholarship would be given the money to help generate their own content, whether it be as a writer, actor or producer.
Variety recognized Wilson’s potential back in 2011 as they placed her on their list of 10 comics to watch.
To prove she had the pipes to star in Pitch Perfect, Wilson had to sing a song during her audition and she chose “Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga. She recreated the audition in 2017 on the Graham Norton show, and also revealed that she was the first actor cast in the movie, four months before anyone else.
Wilson has her own plus-sized clothing line called Fat Mandi, which was the name of a character she created for an Australian sketch show called The Wedge. The clothing line consists of custom made t-shirts that have funny designs on them. She even wore one on the red carpet of the 2008 Nickelodeon Australian Kids’ Choice Awards.
She has three siblings—two sisters and one brother—who all have unique names. Her sisters are named Liberty and Annachi, and her brother is named Ryot.
Wilson’s been a fan of rap and hip-hop since she was a child and competed in music competitions with her sister as a kid under the rapper name Rebelicious.
The actor who played her roommate in Bridesmaids—Matt Lucas—ended up becoming her roommate in real life after they had a blast working together and wanted to keep the good times rolling. They shared a home in Los Angeles for three years before going their separate ways in 2015.
In 2012, Wilson became a spokesperson for Jenny Craig in Australia, with the goal to lose 55 lbs (25 kg). She ended up losing more than 20 lbs. (9 kg), but apparently, her contract for Pitch Perfect wouldn’t allow her to lose anymore.
While filming Pitch Perfect 3, panicked crew members had to scramble to help a bloodied Rebel Wilson when she fell down her trailer steps, but soon after she shouted “April Fools!” It had all been an elaborate prank, with fake blood and everything!
Wilson is highly skilled with nunchucks and has put those skills on display numerous times, once on the Graham Norton show, and once during a meeting with the producers for Kung Fu Panda 3, which they said was impressive but unnecessary: not only was it not an audition, she already had the role, and it was for an animated character.
Wilson’s career was put on hold in 2015 after a series of defamatory articles were released by Woman’s Day magazine. The articles claimed that Wilson was a serial liar who lied about her “real name, age, and childhood". Wilson ended up getting fired from her role as Mei Mei in Kung Fu Panda 3 and replaced with Kate Hudson, and also lost a role in the animated movie Trolls.
Wilson ended up suing Bauer Media, the company behind Woman’s Day magazine, for defamation as she claimed the articles published about her cost her numerous acting jobs. She would go on to win the case and was awarded $4.5 million in damages, but the payout was later dropped to $600,000 after Bauer Media appealed the decision.
Wilson’s mother named her Rebel after Rebel Bissaker, a woman who sang at her wedding, but six weeks after the birth her mother felt pressured by her husband and family to give Wilson more a traditional name, so she changed it to Melanie. However, in 2002, Wilson decided to change it back to Rebel.
Wilson gave everyone on the set of Pitch Perfect 3 a good scare when she fell to the ground after exiting her trailer and opened up a big gash on her leg. When everyone gathered to see if she was OK, she revealed it was an April Fools’ prank. She later posted footage and photos of the prank on Twitter.
She wrote, produced and acted in the stage musical The Westie Monologues in Australia, which was a massive success and helped kickstart her career. However, her second venture into acting, producing and writing her own show wasn’t as well received, as the television comedy Super Fun Night ended up getting canceled after one season.
Wilson played around with several accents for her character in Super Fun Night but eventually landed on an American one. According to Wilson, speaking with a different accent isn’t that difficult but the main issue is that her face starts to hurt after performing one for long periods of time. Maybe it’s a good thing, health-wise, that the show never saw a second season.
When the Cats trailer came out in 2019, the internet was more horrified than impressed. Criticizing the creepy-looking human/cat hybrids and sinister outfit choices (is Judi Dench's cat character wearing a fur coat...made of another cat?), the trailer stoked a considerable amount of controversy.
Wilson became the first cast member to address the backlash. She revealed that she thought people were "confused" by the new CGI technology and said that, no matter what, it's going to be a "big" movie. Hmm. We couldn't help but notice that she never said the movie will be good.
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