Olivia Wilde Speaks Out About Controversial Movie Role

Photo: Vera Anderson/WireImage.
After receiving backlash for her portrayal of real-life journalist Kathy Scruggs in Clint Eastwood’s new film Richard Jewell, Olivia Wilde is speaking out.
The movie, which was helmed by Eastwood and written by Billy Ray, tells the true story of Richard Jewell, a security guard working at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta when he discovered a backpack full of bombs. Jewell told police of his discovery and helped evacuate the area, saving many people. Some media outlets, however, suggested Jewell as a viable suspect in the bombing, of which he had no part. The film is based on the 1997 Vanity Fair article American Nightmare: The Ballad of Richard Jewell.
Advertisement
Wilde portrays Scruggs as she is reporting on the bombing. In the movie, it is implied that Scruggs sleeps with FBI agent Tom Shaw (Jon Hamm) in order to receive information on the investigation. 
In real life, Scruggs was working for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution when she broke the story that FBI was investigating Jewell in the bombing. The AJC denied that Scruggs slept with a source for information as the film seemingly suggests, and sent a letter to Eastwood, screenwriter Billy Ray, and studio Warner Bros. asking the film to add a disclaimer. 
"Such a portrayal makes it appear that the AJC sexually exploited its staff and/or that it facilitated or condoned offering sexual gratification to sources in exchange for stories. That is entirely false and malicious, and it is extremely defamatory and damaging," the letter, from attorney Martin Singer, read in part. 
Wilde claimed in a new Twitter thread that she was unaware that the film would make it appear that Scruggs traded sex for information, and that she wanted to make sure her point of view on the character was heard as it “may differ from others involved with the film.”
“The perspective of the fictional dramatisation of the story, as I understood it, was that Kathy, and the FBI agent who leaked false information to her, were in a pre-existing romantic relationship, not a transactional exchange of sex for information,” Wilde wrote on Twitter. 
Advertisement
“She unfortunately became a piece of the massive puzzle that was responsible for the brutal and unjust vilification of an innocent man, Richard Jewell, and that tragedy is what this film attempts to shed light on.”
“Kathy Scruggs was a modern, independent woman whose personal life should not detract from her accomplishments,” Wilde added. 
Wilde also stated that her previous comments on the matter were “lost in translation,” but that she does not believe “sex-positivity and professionalism are mutually exclusive.” 
Wilde previously called out fans criticizing Scruggs in The Hollywood Reporter
"I think people have a hard time accepting sexuality in female characters without allowing it to entirely define that character," Wilde told the outlet. "We don’t do that to men, we don’t do that to James Bond — we don’t say James Bond isn’t a real spy because he gets his information sometimes by sleeping with women as sources. This is very specific to female characters, we’ve seen it over and over again, and I think that Kathy Scruggs is an incredibly dynamic, nuanced, dogged, intrepid reporter. By no means was I intending to suggest that as a female reporter, she needed to use her sexuality." 
Refinery29 reached out to Wilde, Eastwood, Ray and Warner Bros. for comment.
Advertisement

More from Movies

R29 Original Series