Olivia Wilde (born Olivia Jane Cockburn; March 10, 1984) is an Irish-American actress, model, producer and activist.
Wilde was born in New York City. Her mother, Leslie Cockburn (née Leslie Corkill Redlich), is an American-born 60 Minutes producer and journalist. Her father, Andrew Cockburn, is also a journalist. He was born in London, to English parents, and was raised in Ireland. Wilde’s uncles, Alexander and Patrick Cockburn, also worked as journalists. Her older sister, Chloe Cockburn, is a civil rights attorney in New York. Her aunt, Sarah Caudwell, was a writer; her half-cousin, Stephanie Flanders, is a journalist; and her paternal grandfather, Claud Cockburn, was a novelist and journalist.
Wilde’s paternal English ancestors were upper-class and lived in several places at the height of the British Empire, including Peking (where her paternal grandfather was born), Calcutta, Bombay, Cairo, and Tasmania; one of her paternal great-great-grandfathers, Henry Arthur Blake, was Governor of Hong Kong. Her other paternal ancestors include abolitionist and Anglican minister James Ramsay; politician George Arbuthnot; lawyer, judge, and literary figure Henry Cockburn, Lord Cockburn; Lord Provost of Edinburgh Sir William Arbuthnot; and Sir Thomas Osborne. Her ancestry includes English, German, Irish, Manx, and Scottish; she is also of 1/64th Sephardi Jewish descent through Ralph Bernal (1783–1854), a British Whig politician and actor.
Wilde has said that as a result of her parents’ occupations, she has a “strong journalistic streak” and is “really critical and analytical”. Both her parents were prominent in the Washington, D.C. social scene, hosting dinner parties. Her mother once recounted a story of a four-year-old Wilde eavesdropping one night on a conversation between diplomat Richard Holbrooke and singer Mick Jagger, until Jagger noticed her and shooed her to bed. She had writer Christopher Hitchens as a babysitter. She has wanted to become an actress since the age of two. For a short time, Wilde’s family had a house in Guilford, Vermont. She attended Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C., as well as Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, graduating in 2002. She also studied acting at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin.
During her early career, Wilde appeared in The Girl Next Door, Alpha Dog, Conversations with Other Women and Turistas. She became known for her recurring role on The O.C. as Alex Kelly (2004–05). In 2007, Wilde was part of the ensemble cast of the short-lived NBC mid-season drama The Black Donnellys. Wilde played Jenny Reilly, an Irish girl who grew up with the Donnellys and becomes romantically involved with the family’s second son, Tommy. Also in 2007, Wilde appeared in the play Beauty on the Vine, a political thriller, playing three different characters.
Wilde joined the cast of the Fox medical drama House in September 2007, making her first appearance in the episode “The Right Stuff”. She played Dr. Remy Hadley, nicknamed Thirteen, a secretive and bisexual young internist with Huntington’s disease, who was handpicked by House out of a number of applicants to join his team. In August 2011, it was announced Wilde would be leaving House to pursue her film career. She left House a few months later, in the episode “Charity Case”. In May 2012, Wilde returned to House for the final two episodes, “Holding On” and “Everybody Dies”. Wilde also appeared in the 2009 comedy film Year One as Princess Inanna, alongside Jack Black and Michael Cera.
Wilde at the Tron: Legacy premiere, December 12, 2010
In 2010, she starred in Disney’s Tron: Legacy as Quorra, the trusted friend and protector of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges). In 2011, Wilde played Ella Swenson in the science fiction Western film Cowboys & Aliens. Her character works with Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) and Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) to save the Earth from evil aliens. Wilde also starred alongside Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman in the comedy The Change-Up (2011). Her additional films that year include In Time, On the Inside and Butter.
Wilde starred alongside Chris Pine in the film People Like Us, released in June 2012. She also starred as Liza in Deadfall (2012), a thriller about two siblings who decide to fend for themselves in the wake of a botched casino heist, and their unlikely reunion during another family’s Thanksgiving celebration. Wilde can be seen in 2012’s The Words as a curious amateur reporter named Daniella who interviews the film’s main character, played by Dennis Quaid. In 2013, she starred in and executive produced Drinking Buddies, which also stars Jake Johnson and Anna Kendrick. She also starred in the multi-strand drama Third Person (2012) as Anna, an author’s muse who begins to mercilessly complicate his life. Wilde had a supporting role as a blind date in the Spike Jonze drama/romance/sci-fi film Her as well as a supporting role as Jane, a magician’s assistant, in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone in 2013. She also played Suzy Miller in the biographical drama Rush, about James Hunt and Niki Lauda.
In 2014, Wilde starred as Elizabeth Roberts, a trophy-wife customer who enters a straight-laced pharmacists’s life and takes him on a joyride involving sex, drugs and possibly murder in Better Living Through Chemistry. She also starred as Beatrice Fairbanks in The Longest Week, alongside Jason Bateman and Billy Crudup, as the middle of a love triangle between an affluent drifter and his best friend.
In 2015, she starred in the thriller The Lazarus Effect (2015) as Zoe, a medical researcher who is accidentally killed, then revived with a miraculous serum with unfortunate side-effects. Wilde also stars in and produced the thriller Meadowland, directed by Reed Morano from a script by Chris Rossi. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York on April 17, 2015.
Wilde’s writing and directing debut was the film Free Hugs (2011) for Glamour Magazine’s short film series. The short screened at various festivals across the country.
Inspired by her parents, who are award-winning journalists and documentary filmmakers, Wilde has served as executive producer on several documentary films. Her most recent documentary short, Body Team 12, follows the team tasked with collecting the dead at the height of the Ebola outbreak. The film went on to win Best Documentary Short at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival. Wilde also executive produced The Rider and the Storm, a documentary short about Timmy Brennan, a New York iron worker from Breezy Point, Queens, who lost everything he owned when Hurricane Sandy hit; Baseball in the Time of Cholera, which explored the cholera epidemic in Haiti; and Sun City Picture House, which is about a community in Haiti that rallies to build a movie theater after the disastrous 2010 earthquake.
Continuing on the documentary front, Wilde was featured in the PBS docu-series Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, which was inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book of the same name. The docu-series follows Wilde as she learns of the struggles women face in Nairobi, Kenya.
Wilde derived her stage name from Irish author Oscar Wilde. She changed her surname while in high school, to honor the writers in her family, many of whom used pen names. She considered herself a pescetarian in 2011, although she has also claimed to be both vegan and vegetarian at different times in her life. She was voted PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity of 2010.
On June 7, 2003, when she was 19 years old, Wilde married Tao Ruspoli, an Italian filmmaker and musician, whose family owns a famed palazzo in Italy, at a ceremony in Washington, Virginia. They were married on a school bus with only a pair of witnesses. She later said the marriage 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. On February 8, 2011, she and Ruspoli announced that they were separating.
Wilde began dating actor Jason Sudeikis in November 2011, and they became engaged in January 2013. They have one son, Otis Alexander (born on April 20, 2014).
Wilde is a board member of Artists for Peace and Justice, which provides education and health services in Haiti, and the ACLU of Southern California. Previously, Wilde was a supporter of the youth voter organization, 18 in ’08. She serves on their advisory council and appeared in a public service announcement that debuted June 30, 2008. In 2008, Wilde campaigned with actors Justin Long and her then-current House castmate Kal Penn for the 2008 Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama. She introduced Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton at a campaign event on June 30, 2015 in New York.
She also appeared in the MoveOn.org mock-PSA “supporting” the rights of the healthcare insurance industry.
Wilde was commended by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a farmworkers’ union, for supporting the Fair Foods campaign. In 2013, she appeared in a video clip for Gucci’s “Chime for Change” campaign that aims to raise funds and awareness of women’s issues in terms of education, health, and justice.
Wilde is also a celebrity influencer/activist for RYOT, a Los Angeles-based media company.