Huge ‘personal cost’ of Rebel’s legal win
REBEL Wilson has a lot to celebrate.
There's a brand new comedy, The Hustle, in which she stars alongside Anne Hathaway, then the release of the big screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit musical Cats.
And the Aussie actress is still riding high from her win against Bauer Media, who printed defamatory stories painting Wilson as a "serial liar", about her background, name and age.
"I've definitely changed the defamation law in Australia proving that you can win more damages than the existing cap, which was $400,000. We definitely exposed some stuff that was going on in Australia, which was just an absolute, complete disregard for the truth, trying to get click bait by writing things that were absolutely fake," she tells news.com.au.
"We exposed Bauer Media for a lot of their practices, even things that weren't particular to my case, for example, when they would Photoshop images to make them seem like they were from a particular day, or of a particular person and they weren't even that person," she says. "So I'm happy about that. I know that some magazines in Australia have started doing ethical classes for journalists as a result of my case, which I think is really positive. They've definitely stopped making up stuff about me, for which I am very happy about personally.
"Hopefully, it's made some positive changes for everyone."
So how did she celebrate her big win?
"Look, at the end of the day, it's hard with a court case. Even though my guys smashed it, it comes at a big personal cost. It was a one-month trial, it was huge news in Australia, and there was a huge, billion-dollar media corporation trying everything they could to crush me personally, as well as my family, so it was hard to be like, 'Woo-hoo!'
"So, there was none of that going on. It was more that I was proud of myself for standing up to someone that I felt was bullying me, and proud of the result, obviously."
While she was initially awarded $4.5 million in damages, that figure was reduced to $600,000 after Wilson couldn't prove she had missed out on potential movie roles as a result of those false allegations. But for Wilson, it wasn't about the money.
"In Australia, the jury had 47 questions, and every question resulted in our favour," she says. "At least, if I have to go to court again, I'll be real experienced," she chuckles. " I was on the witness stand for seven days. It was intense. So, yeah, it does come at a huge personal cost, but I'm glad I did it, and I know that all the people of Australia and of course, the high profile people were behind me."
Wilson is in New York City to promote The Hustle, a comedic romp based on the 1988 hit, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, in which Wilson and Hathaway play con artists who stake their prey on the French Riviera. There's a line in the movie where Anne Hathaway describes Wilson as "a big-titted Russell Crowe".
Is Crowe aware he is also in the movie, if only by name?
"Oh, well, I haven't told Russ yet," she nods slowly. "I do love him as an actor and I follow him on Twitter where he keeps me updated on what's happening in Australia."
She recounts the first time she met Crowe in rather colourful terms.
"I was a very young actor, and he was having dinner with Nicole Kidman. And I went up to try to say something to Nicole, actually, and he told me to 'f**k off!' And so I talked about it on a talk show and he heard the story, so when I met him at an Australia awards show party, he comes up and hugs me, and goes, "I thought I told you to f**k off?"
And what of their relationship these days? Are they on friendlier terms?
"I feel like it, even though I've made continuous jokes about him in the past few years." She pauses. "Actually, I don't know."
Next up she will star in the much awaited production of the musical, Cats, with a cast that includes Idris Elba, Taylor Swift and Judi Dench. "I play Jennyanydots, who was the first cat that has a solid number in the film, so I'm right off the bat," she grins. "I can't wait to see the final product."
But first up, The Hustle hits theatres May 9.
"I was intrigued with this movie because in some way, we've all been conned in our life. I was conned in Beverly Hills by a lady who told me she was a doctor and had this new weight loss pill," Wilson said.
"Now, I'm someone who's very comfortable in myself and my body so I don't know what was wrong with me that day, maybe I was just particularly vulnerable or susceptible. So I gave this woman money, I took the pill, and then I'm like, "I don't reckon anything (is happening). There's something weird (going on).
"A few days later I realised they'd taken money out of my credit card so I shut it down and the money was refunded. That lady wasn't a doctor; she was a con artist. It's a terrible feeling," she says, shaking her head.
"I feel like I'm a pretty smart, sceptical person but somehow I was also a victim of a con. So, it does happen and elaborate cons happen to celebrities all the time."
The Hustle is in Australian cinemas May 9.