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Whether you’ve seen her on television or on film, Olivia Wilde has captured the interest of audiences worldwide for nearly two decades. Of course, we’d be remiss if we assumed that acting was all that this woman was about. Whether it’s working behind the camera, or fighting for political and social causes, Wilde proved time and time again that she was far more than a character onscreen. If you’re curious to see more of what she’s all about, this is the article for you!


1. New Arrival

Olivia Jane Cockburn was born on March 10, 1984, in New York City. She is the middle of three children born to Andrew and Leslie Cockburn.

2. Emerald Gal

Besides her American background, Olivia Wilde also holds Irish citizenship. She spent years studying the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin and based her stage name on one of the most famous writers in Irish history.

3. Prestigious Parents

Wilde’s parents both work as journalists. Her father, Andrew, was originally from the UK before moving to the US, while her mother, Leslie, was not only a journalist but also a producer of the American television series 60 Minutes.

4. How About That!

In 2010, Wilde appeared in the film The Next Three Days, directed by Canadian filmmaker Paul Haggis. Coincidentally, Haggis and Wilde share the same birthday (albeit a few years apart, of course).

5. Easy to Remember Your B-Day!

Returning to the subject of shared birthdays, Wilde also shares a birthday with Sharon Stone, her co-star in Alpha Dog.

6. Blimey!

As a child, Wilde came into contact with a lot of different celebrities, given her parents’ line of work. One of the more bizarre connections is that her regular babysitter was none other than British writer Christopher Hitchens!

7. Dear Alexander

Fans of Wilde might have noticed that she carries a tattoo on her wrist which reads “All love, A.” When asked about the meaning of that tattoo, Wilde explained that the phrase was the last one she ever received from her beloved uncle, Alexander Cockburn. Wilde put it on her wrist as a reminder of the importance of love in one’s life.

8. The True Story

Wilde has been a producer of several documentaries throughout her life. The subjects of these documentaries have ranged from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the Ebola outbreak to the mistreatment of women in Kenya. One of these documentaries, Body Team 12, won the Academy Award for Short Documentary in 2016.

9. A Noble Cause

In case you don’t know, the Artists for Peace and Justice is an organization which offers health services and education in the poverty-stricken nation of Haiti. Wilde serves on the Board of Directors alongside her frequent collaborator, Paul Haggis (who helped found the organization in the first place).

10. Congrats, Gramps!

Speaking of those writer relatives who worked under pen names, one of them was her grandfather, Claude Cockburn. Under the name “James Helvick,” Cockburn wrote the thriller novel titled Beat the Devil. In 1953, John Huston directed a film adaptation of that novel, starring Humphrey Bogart and Jennifer Jones.

11. And Introducing…

Wilde’s first-ever credit came when she acted in the 1995 short romance film Meeting Magdalene.

12. My Heroes

You might be wondering which actresses Olivia Wilde was inspired by as she embarked on her own career. Rest assured that Wilde herself has provided an answer to this. She listed her acting inspirations as Frances McDormand, Robin Wright, Sigourney Weaver, Catherine Keener, and Meryl Streep.

13. Hanging Out with Stars

In 1997, a film was released titled The Peacemaker, which was based on an article written by Wilde’s parents. As a result, the teenaged Wilde got to meet the film’s star, George Clooney, when they had lunch together on the film set during production!

14. Was That Planned?

In 2006, Wilde co-starred in Alpha Dog, alongside Justin Timberlake, Vincent Kartheiser, and Amanda Seyfried. Five years later, all four of these actors reunited to co-star in the 2011 film In Time.

15. That’s Not an Anachronism

Speaking of In Time, the film follows a futuristic society where people are genetically engineered to stop aging past 25. As a result, Wilde portrays the mother of the protagonist (Justin Timberlake), despite being three years younger than Timberlake.

16. Mick the Buzzkill

One of Wilde’s most memorable childhood memories involves Rolling Stones’ frontman Mick Jagger. Wilde snuck down to spy on her parents hosting Jagger in their home, when the rock star noticed her. As Wilde later quipped, “How many girls were told to go to bed by Mick Jagger?” It’s safe to say that you truly can’t always get what you want!

17. On the Rise

In 2004, Wilde was part of an ad campaign for Abercrombie & Fitch. Dubbed “Rising Stars,” the campaign also included Taylor Swift, Nikki Reed, and Michelle Trachtenberg.

18. How Much Did Your Pet Earn?

Wilde wasn’t the only one in her household to lend her likeness to an advertisement. In 2006, Wilde’s pet dog Paco was the spokesdog for Old Navy. This makes us wonder if Wilde and Paco ever had a rivalry over their respective clothing companies!

19. My Musical Hero

One of Wilde’s favorite musicians since childhood is the late Otis Redding, well known to be one of the greatest soul and R&B singers in American history. Such is Wilde’s esteem for Redding that she named her son, Otis, after him.

20. Diverse Collaborators

Aside from film and television, Wilde has also appeared in music videos for a number of songs. The musicians with whom she’s collaborated in this regard thus far are “Weird Al” Yankovic, 30 Seconds to Mars, and Drake.

21. What Goes Around Comes Around

Wilde was one of the top contenders for the role of Vesper Lind in the James Bond film Casino Royale. However, she lost the role to actress Eva Green. In an ironic twist, Green later had to drop out of her role in the sci-fi film Cowboys & Aliens, only for Wilde to step in and snap up the part.

22. Tuck In, Mates!

Among Wilde’s many accomplishments thus far, one of the more random ones she can claim is that she won a pancake eating contest in Australia! To be fair, we can imagine that one or two of her competitors would have been quite distracted by the fact that they were competing against Olivia Wilde!

23. Great-Great-Great-Great…

Like many people with British ancestry, Wilde has a very distant relationship to the British monarchy. In her case, Wilde is reportedly descended from King Edward VII, separated by 20 generations.

24. Behind the Camera This Time

In 2011, Wilde made her writing and directing debut with the short film Free Hugs. It was screened at various festivals as part of a short film series presented by Glamour Magazine.

25. Staying Healthy

Throughout her life, Wilde has been very conscious about her eating habits. Although she is currently a pescatarian, Wilde has previously lived her life as a vegan and a vegetarian.

26. Did She Ever Appear on Top Gear?

If there is one passion that Wilde has, it’s for cars. Specifically, she is a connoisseur of classic cars. Naturally, gear heads reading this will be curious about what kind of cars she’s owned. Aside from the 1966 Lincoln Continental which she once had, Wilde also has a 1959 Thunderbird convertible and a 1958 Chevy Biscayne.

27. Cheers!

Wilde fans might recall the 2013 film Drinking Buddies, which featured Wilde in the cast. Given that Drinking Buddies was filmed in a brewery, you might suspect that the actors were just chugging real beer onscreen rather than colored water. And in this case, you’d be totally right! According to Wilde herself, it was far cheaper to drink real beer.

Of course, that meant that the cast was regularly “hammered” while filming!

28. Free Folk in my Family

You might be surprised to know that Wilde is a fifth cousin of Rose Leslie, best known as Ygritte on Game of Thrones and Maia on The Good Fight. The connection linking these two actresses is their shared (and distant) ancestry with Scottish nobility.

29. So She Could Have Watched Herself on TV?

One of Wilde’s most well-known roles would have to be her appearance as Remy “Thirteen” Hadley on the medical drama House. Interestingly, the show’s main character, Dr. House, references the TV drama The O.C. several times over the course of the series. Prior to her being on House, Wilde had previously appeared on The O.C. in a supporting role. In a random coincidence, she portrayed a bisexual character in both these series.

30. The Evil Number

People who didn’t watch House might wonder why Wilde’s character on the show is apparently nicknamed “Thirteen.” When she first appeared in the show, Wilde’s character is applying for a position working with Dr. House. Due to the large number of applicants, they are all assigned numbers, and Wilde’s character is given 13.

Despite the unlucky connotation, Thirteen makes the team and becomes a recurring character.

31. Keep Calm and Relocate

Wilde’s family contains several figures who held a lot of power and sway during their lifetimes. Among these figures was Henry Arthur Blake, a high-ranking colonial administrator within the British Empire. Throughout his life, Blake was a governor of the Bahamas, Newfoundland, Jamaica, and Hong Kong. Not all at once, of course, he was transferred around the globe in a surprisingly short amount of time.

This makes us suspect that he was either really good or really bad at his job!

32. A Fateful Action

Another one of Wilde’s more well-known ancestors was Sir George Cockburn. A long-time military officer, Cockburn saw active duty during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. However, Cockburn’s most infamous action was arguably during the War of 1812, when he directed the capture and burning of Washington!

Historians might recall that it was only after that attack that the presidential home was painted white and became known as the White House.

33. Will She Perform Animal Farm as a Follow-Up?

In 2017, Wilde appeared on Broadway for the first time in her career. She co-starred in a stage adaptation of the George Orwell novel 1984. The play ran from June until October of that year in a limited run.

34. Shameless Netflix Plug Alert

Wilde is no stranger to voice acting, having lent her vocal cords to American Dad and Son of Zorn. However, her most prominent voice acting is arguably the character of Charlotte Moore on Bojack Horseman. While she has only appeared in four episodes, Moore serves to be one of the most important people in Bojack Horseman’s life, haunting him for his mistakes past and present.

We won’t go any further into it, only because Bojack Horseman is incredible, and you should see the show for yourself.

35. Culinary Enthusiast

Aside from cars, another one of Wilde’s passions is cooking. According to her, she would cut classes just so she could stay home and watch cooking shows on television. This makes us wonder if there’s an alternate timeline where Wilde became the next Jamie Oliver or Giada de Laurentiis—they kind of look-alike!

36. Go See It!

In the spring of 2019, Booksmart was released into theatres. It is the first feature film directed by Wilde. Despite receiving widespread critical acclaim for its deft comedy and sharp writing style, the film has thus far underperformed at the box office. Blame for the modest box office returns has been given to the stiff competition offered by Aladdin, Brightburn, and others.

37. She Said No?

Incredibly, Olivia Wilde turned down the offer to star in Guardians of the Galaxy as Gamora, the deadly assassin who was raised by Thanos. Zoe Saldana ended up getting the role, most recently seen in Avengers: Endgame.  

38. Too Tough to Accept, Too Good to Reject

Before she was cast as Alex in The O.C., Olivia Wilde was a very strong contender for the female lead role of Marissa. In fact, casting that character came down to Wilde and Mischa Barton. The show’s creators ultimately decided that Wilde was far too strong and confident to naturally portray such a vulnerable character as Marissa. However, they were so impressed by Wilde that they wrote a whole new character into the show specifically for Wilde to portray.

39. We Nearly Lost Her in 2006?!

While filming the 2006 horror flick Turistas, Olivia Wilde had a genuine life-threatening scare when she was filming an underwater scene. While her character is supposed to be freaking out when she is trying to find an air bubble, Wilde wasn’t acting. She’d made a mistake during the scene and couldn’t find the air bubble. Luckily, she did find it, but it was a very near miss, since the divers were too far away to intervene at the time!

40. An Olivia by Any Other Name

As we hinted earlier, Olivia Wilde took her surname partly in honor of Irish writer and playwright Oscar Wilde, whom she greatly admires. Wilde was also inspired to take a stage name because so many of her own extended family have become writers and took up pen names of their own.

41. Fairy-tale Romance?

In 2003, the 19-year-old Wilde got married to Tao Ruspoli, a filmmaker and Italian prince (we’re not joking about that, either). Interestingly, because they were eloping, Wilde and Ruspoli got married in an abandoned school bus with almost no witnesses. Their marriage lasted until 2011, when they got divorced.

42. Romancing the Ghost

Olivia Wilde is engaged to comedian Jason Sudeikis—but she recently revealed how Sudeikis ghosted her early in their romance. They met when Wilde attended an SNL afterparty, and Sudeikis made a cryptic remark before getting her number. Wilde waited to hear from him, but he didn’t contact her for an entire month before calling to make a date, leaving her convinced that he’d disappeared. Eventually, they began to go on dates, but Sudeikis waited until date #4 to kiss Wilde. The rest is history. 

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19

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