Olivia Wilde (born Olivia Jane Cockburn); March 10, 1984) is an Irish American actress and fashion model. She began acting in the early 2000s, and has since appeared in a number of television and film productions, including her roles in the dramas The O.C., The Black Donnellys, and House, and had starring roles in films Tron: Legacy, Cowboys & Aliens, and In Time.
Early life and education
Wilde was born in New York City. Her mother, Leslie Cockburn (née Redlich), is a 60 Minutes producer and journalist. Her father, Andrew Cockburn, who was born in London, England, and raised in Ireland, is a journalist, as are her uncles Alexander Cockburn and Patrick Cockburn. Her older sister, Chloe Cockburn, is a civil rights attorney in New York; her aunt, Sarah Caudwell, was a writer, and her paternal grandfather, Claud Cockburn, was a novelist and journalist.
Wilde has said that as a result of her family background, she has a “strong journalistic streak”, being “really critical and analytical”. Both her parents were prominent in the Washington social scene, hosting dinner parties. Her mother once recounted a story of a four year old Wilde eavesdropping one night on a conversation between Richard Holbrooke and Mick Jagger until Jagger noticed her and shooed her to bed. 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. Wilde was accepted to Bard College in Upstate New York but deferred matriculation to pursue acting. She also attended The Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin, Ireland for a short time.
Wilde has appeared in the films The Girl Next Door, Alpha Dog, Conversations with Other Women and Turistas. She became known for her role on The O.C. as Alex Kelly, although she originally auditioned for the role of Marissa Cooper. She has also appeared in the Dashboard Confessional music video for “Stolen”, and the French Kicks music video for “So Far We Are”. She was strongly considered to play Bond girl Vesper Lynd in the 21st Bond film Casino Royale but Eva Green eventually won the role. In 2008, Wilde was honored alongside Jesse Eisenberg with the Vail Film Festival Rising Star Award.
In 2009 Wilde was ranked No.1 on Maxim magazine’s Hot 100.It was an honor which was included as an inside joke during House season 6: episode 4 called “The Tyrant”, where Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie), upon hearing about Dr. Eric Foreman’s (Omar Epps) recent firing of Dr. Remy “Thirteen” Hadley (Wilde), sarcastically teased, “My condolences. Although, it’s not like she’s the hottest woman in the world.” She was also ranked No.95 on the FHM 100 Sexiest Women of 2006. She was one of the key models in Abercrombie & Fitch’s “Rising Stars” campaign in summer of 2004.
In 2007, Wilde was a part of the ensemble cast of the short-lived NBC mid-season drama The Black Donnellys. Her character, Jenny Reilly, was the lone principal female character in the series following the lives of an Irish-American family tied to organized crime in New York City. 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 starring Hugh Laurie in September 2007, making her first appearance in season 4: episode 2 called “The Right Stuff”. She played a secretive and bisexual young intern with Huntington’s disease, Dr. Remy Hadley, nicknamed Thirteen, who was handpicked by Dr. Gregory House out of a number of applicants to join his team. Wilde told Star magazine how she sometimes took cues from her character even when she was not working, saying, “I’m now convinced that I’m a doctor. I mean, if someone says they have a pain, I’m like, ‘Well, that’s your spleen.'”
The New York Observer has described Wilde as having a “throaty voice” and the “wide, teal-eyed charisma of Hollywood in the days of yore”.She has cited Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, Frances McDormand, Catherine Keener and Robin Wright Penn as acting inspirations.
She won the 2006 US Comedy Arts Festival Film Discovery Jury Award for Best Actress for Bickford Shmeckler’s Cool Ideas (2006) and in 2008 at the Teen Choice Awards she was nominated for the Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Breakout Star Female for House, M.D. and won the Rising Star Award at the Vail Film Festival.
On October 7, 2008, Wilde appeared in a video on funnyordie.com showing how much she enjoys registering early for the 2008 Presidential election, “Olivia Wilde Does It Early”. Wilde appeared alongside Jack Black and Michael Cera in the 2009 comedy Year One.
She played Quorra in Disney’s Tron: Legacy, which opened on December 17, 2010. In the December 2010/January 2011 issue of Details Wilde was quoted as saying she freaked out the first time she saw her costume for the movie, “I saw the boobs on the suit and I said, ‘Oh hell no. I’m doing kicks and backflips in this thing?'” In January 2011, it was announced that Wilde was cast alongside Chris Pine in the upcoming film People Like Us.
Wilde played Ella Swenson in the thriller Cowboys & Aliens. Her character works with Jake Lonergan, (Daniel Craig), and Woodrow Dolarhyde, (Harrison Ford), to save their town from evil aliens. Wilde played Sabrina McArdle in the movie The Change-Up. Her character is the girlfriend of Mitch Planko, who was played by Ryan Reynolds.
In August 2011, it was announced Wilde would be leaving House to pursue her film career. Wilde left House in October 2011, in season 8: episode 3 called “Charity Case”.
Wilde has dual citizenship in the United States and Ireland. She derived her stage name “Wilde” 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 is a vegan, and was voted PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity of 2010.