This week the internet was scandalized when an Australian tabloid ran a story asserting that Rebel Wilson has been lying about her age and background since breaking out in Bridesmaids. Wilson’s age of record was 29, and she had at various points claimed to grow up in the “ghetto” with “bogan” (working class) parents. According to the original story, Wilson is in her thirties and she attended a posh private school, far from the ghetto she claimed to grow up in. This is a problem, not because an actress fibbed about her age, but because Rebel Wilson has presented herself as aggressively candid, the antithesis of the standard Hollywood blonde, and lying about her background doesn’t jive with that persona. It’s off-brand.
There’s been an inconsistency with Wilson’s age for years, but that’s not entirely unusual. If an actor isn’t policing their own online data, it’s easy for a wrong age to get out there. But one Australian writer who has interviewed Wilson went through the details Wilson herself provided in an interview, checking fact versus fiction, and Wilson told her, on the record, that she was 29—she is in fact 35. Also in that interview she insisted her real name is Rebel and that she went by her middle name, Melanie, in school so as not to be teased. But no, Melanie is her real name and Rebel is a stage name (she has legally changed her last name to Wilson). By Wilson’s own doing, her background became a mix of fact and fiction, and now she’s been busted on the fiction parts.
Hollywood is not forgiving to aging actresses, so I understand why an actress would feel the need to fudge her age—Maggie Gyllenhaal just said she lost a movie role because at 37 she was judged to be “too old” to play the love interest of a 55 year old actor. This aspect of the story is less a knock on Wilson and more an indictment of the sexist and misogynistic film industry that punishes women for getting older. It’s the rest of it I don’t get. Who gives a sh*t if her name isn’t really Rebel? Plenty of actors adopt stage names. Same for changing her background. No one cares where she went to school or what neighborhood she grew up in. The Rebel Wilson Story is the story of a woman who dropped out of law school to pursue comedy, which is true. The rest is just details.
But now she’s been busted lying. She built her brand on being the no bullsh*t comedienne with no filter, but now we know the story she’s sold us is bullsh*t, and that she was very much filtering the information she was sharing about herself. It’s not on message, and now she has to do damage control. It’s baffling why she’d even bother fabricating most of these details, and it’s embarrassing for Wilson, as she will have to answer pointed and uncomfortable questions from interviewers for a while. And it’s just such a stupid, AVOIDABLE scandal. A stage name is one thing, but don’t lie about your biography because in this day and age it absolutely will be publicly debunked. And you’ll look like an idiot when it is.
Attached - Rebel on the set of How To Be Single which she is currently shooting in New York with Dakota Johnson.