Rebel Wilson had a Pitch Perfect payday on Wednesday, when she was awarded $3.66 million by an Australian judge in a defamation case against a magazine publisher that printed articles that she said cost her film roles in Hollywood.
The 37-year-old star had sued Bauer Media — publisher of the Australian magazines Woman’s Day, Australian Women’s Weekly, NW and OK — after the magazines published reports in 2015 claiming she lied about her age, origins of her first name and her upbringing.
The articles cited a former classmate, who accused the Bridesmaids star of being seven years older than what the media had been reporting. The classmate had also claimed Wilson went by a different name in high school.
At the time the articles were first published, Wilson brushed off the accusations by joking on Twitter: “OMG I’m actually a 100 year old mermaid formerly known as “CC Chalice” ….thanks shady Australian press for your tall poppy syndrome x.”
But she was far more serious about it come court time — attending every day of the three-week trial and sitting in the witness box for six days, the BBC reported, where she claimed the eight articles published by Bauer results in her being fired from two feature films under the belief that she was a serial liar.
A Supreme Court jury in Australia’s Victoria state ruled in June that the articles were defamatory, the Associated Press reported.
Justice John Dixon granted Wilson the massive sum on Wednesday – which was four times higher than the previous Australian record for a defamation case — in order to “vindicate” Wilson after her reputation as an “actress of integrity was wrongly damaged.”
“Substantial vindication can only be achieved by an award of damages that underscores that Ms. Wilson’s reputation as an actress of integrity was wrongly damaged in a manner that affected her marketability in a huge worldwide marketplace,” he said, CNN reported.
While Wilson was not in court on Wednesday, she did speak about the Judge’s ruling on Twitter, thanking fans for their love and support.
“Today was the end of a long and hard court battle against Bauer Media who viciously tried to take me down with a series of false articles,” she wrote. “When the jury delivered its verdict they answered every single point in my favor. Today Justice Dixon accepted that Bauer Media subjected me to a sustained and malicious attack timed to coincide with the launch of Pitch Perfect 2.”
“The judge accepted without qualification that I had an extremely high reputation and that the damage inflicted on me was substantial,” she continued. “He said the nature of the aggravated defamation and the unprecedented extent of dissemination makes vindication of particular importance.
“The judge said he knew that the info from anonymous paid source was false and that Bauer Media traded recklessly on my reputation in order to boost its own profits. Justice Dixon has awarded me a record sum and I’m extremely grateful for that. It is 4 times the Australian record.”
As she had previously said in June, Wilson made it clear that her case wasn’t about the money — once again promising to donate her winnings to a charity and to invest it back into the Australian film industry.
“I’m looking forward to helping out some great Australian charities and supporting the Oz film industry with the damages I’ve received,” she tweeted Wednesday. “Also looking forward to getting back to my career and entertaining everyone!”
“If I was guilty of something, I mean, I don’t really have any skeletons in my closet, which is why it’s quite hard for people to write bad stuff about me,” she said. “You know, I don’t have a drug addiction or a secret child. But I think when I did go to America, I kind of just stopped saying my age.”
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Asked if she believes Hollywood is too judgmental over age, Wilson said, “They are, it’s Hollywood. I mean, come on people.”
She added, “But the reality is when you work in America, you have to show your passport and your visa for every single job, so it’s not like you can hide how old you were. So for the press to do a story that I was deliberately lying or whatever, no. I was just being a lady and not telling my age when I moved to America. That’s not really a crime. Also, most actresses do that.”
As for her name, Wilson explained, “I went under one of my middle names, Melanie, and my father’s surname. And also, Rebel, at a Christian girl’s school, is not like the best name to have.”