Tron: Legacy star and perhaps one of Hollywood’s classiest young actresses, Olivia Wilde has made quite an astounding career so far. Only last month she celebrated her 32nd birthday and she has already played well over forty roles in television and film, has won four awards and been nominated for over a dozen others. But despite having shared the screen with so many renowned actors like Russel Crowe in The Next Three Days, Hugh Jackman in Butter, or Daniel Craig in Cowboys & Aliens, she is still way more than just that.
Wilde is also a very active member of society, seeking to contribute in making this world a better place. A few years ago she created the philanthropic company Conscious Commerce with the intent of promoting conscious living through various brands, lifestyles and causes. How’s that for a concept? In this list we’ve compiled some of the most unexpected facts about Olivia’s life, personality and her background. You’ll find out that she is actually highborn and has been among celebrities since she was only a little girl. Among other things, you’ll find out just how the stereotypical images of a wife and girlfriend apply to her and how she can combine that with being rated as hottest woman of the year.
15. Uses a stage name
Though it’s a very commonplace decision for writers, actors and singers to be using stage names, this one still came as a bit of a surprise – to us at least. The actress’ real name is Olivia Jane Cockburn and ‘Wilde’ was adopted thanks to her love and deep admiration for the great Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. In fact, she actually changed her last name when she was in high school and in doing so wanted to honor the writers in her family. They too used other names than their own. Olivia has shared that she has the uttermost respect for the poet’s, whose last name she took, literary work, and being from the same country as he himself was – the choice of giving up Cockburn for Wilde wasn’t a difficult one to make.
14. Fan of classic cars
Yes, all you automobile enthusiasts, Olivia Wilde is among your ranks. She is especially fond of classic cars and has owned several over the years, including a ’59 Thunderbird, a ’67 Mustang, a ’58 Chevy Biscayne and even a 1966 Lincoln Continental. Talk about enthusiasm, indeed. However, it’s hardly a secret that classic cars come with the pretty tangible risk of breaking down. In an interview for Vanity Fair, Wilde even recalled one such case in particular. She shared how she once took some friends out for a girls’ night in her mint-green Chevy Biscayne, and the 50’s classic stalled before they had even reached their destination. The night was unfortunately over without even getting a chance to begin, leaving Wilde feeling quite embarrassed.
13. Doesn’t fool around
To the despair of an enormous crowd of men out there – Olivia Wilde strongly considers herself to be a ‘relationship person’ and doesn’t mess around, if you take our meaning. She was fairly open about her dating preferences, when she spoke to Glamour magazine after her divorce with Italian filmmaker Tao Ruspoli, whom she had married at the age of 19 and had 8 years with. Wilde told Glamour she wished she were able to ‘play the field’, but she just wasn’t like that and ‘always goes 100 percent into everything’. She also claims to be a really good girlfriend, and we don’t doubt her.
12. Personally thanked by the President
As we mentioned, Olivia Wilde is more than just a pretty face on the big screen. Of course, she is most certainly also a very talented actress, but beyond that she is a true activist. She even met President Barack Obama during his presidential campaign, back when he was still Senator. What followed several weeks after was a completely unforeseen phone call from Obama himself, who wanted to thank her for agreeing to go to Iowa to campaign. As Wilde recounted, she was very professional in responding to him and after she hung up, she started squealing and retelling the entire conversation with child-like enthusiasm. It wasn’t until later that a friend of hers, who worked for Obama and was with him at the time, told Olivia that she didn’t really hang up and he heard everything, laughing all the way.
11. Has dual citizenship
Though born in New York City, Olivia Wilde also holds Irish citizenship. Her father, writer and producer Andrew Cockburn, was born in England and later became an Irish citizen, passing the nationality onto his daughter. Growing up, Wilde spent her summers in Ireland and felt more Irish than she did American. She remembers going back to their house in the village of Ardmore, County Waterford, each year and says that fishing with her father is among her most cherished childhood memories. She went on to share how they would go fish together for mackerel in their little wooden boat and then eat their catch afterward. Several times she has declared her love for Ireland and how she really misses the way food tastes there.
10. Loves to cook
Still wondering when the ideal wife trait was going to come along? Well, here it is. Olivia Wilde is a masterful cook and has a rare passion for the art of preparing food. In fact, she loves it so much that when she was younger she would occasionally skip school, just to watch her favorite cooking shows. In an interview she even mentioned attending cookery school in Ireland, to perfect her skills. Today, whenever she has some spare time, free from work, Wilde likes to retreat to her kitchen and prepare a hearty meal for her family and friends. She believes cooking is a way of demonstrating your love for people and would prefer to ‘take ten people out to a lovely dinner than buy an expensive outfit’.
9. Voted sexiest vegetarian of the year
Now there’s a title you don’t come by very often. On different occasions, Olivia has said she was a vegetarian and vegan, and as a result this landed her at the top of PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity of the Year 2010 ranking. PETA, however, weren’t the first to award her a title of that sort. Maxim magazine beat them to it by one year, giving Olivia Wilde first place in their ‘Hot 100’ list of 2009. She also made it on their list for 2014; her ranking had dropped to number 14, which is still nevertheless worthy of admiration.
8. Engaged to Jason Sudeikis
After her split with ex-husband and prince Tao Ruspoli, Wilde was free to meet the new love of her life, even if it did first take a little picking through Hollywood’s most eligible bachelors. She had been seen together with some of the sexiest young male actors like Ryan Gosling and Ryan Reynolds, however in this regard she was quite clear in making a distinction between ‘dating’ and ‘going on a date’.
Later that same year as her divorce, Wilde began dating Horrible Bosses star Jason Sudeikis. The couple announced their engagement in 2013, before Olivia gave birth to their son Otis in 2014. The family is now happily living in New York.
7. Has a rescue dog
And a star, at that. Olivia’s rescue pooch by the name of Paco was Old Navy spokesdog back in 2006. In a conversation with Women’s Health, she shared that Paco still acts like a doggie model from time to time. Wilde gave an example that pictures her canine friend’s professional modelling discipline, and said if she would try to put a T-shirt on him, he would freeze, as though he were ‘back on the job’. ‘He’ll strike a pose and just sit there’, she concluded.
She is very devoted to her four-legged companion, as we’re sure he must be to his beautiful owner; the actress even used to refer to him as ‘her boyfriend’ (though that spot has since been secured by her fiance).
6. Had lunch with George Clooney when she was a teen
Few children have ever had the privileges of meeting the number of famous people Olivia Wilde had in her youth. This is mainly due to her parents’ occupation and background. Both Andrew and Leslie Cockburn were international journalists and this exposed little Olivia Wilde to the world in a way that most kids her age were oceans away from. She came in contact with other journalists and intellectuals, people of importance and very well-known people. Among these was also famous actor George Clooney, whom Wilde met on the set of The Peacemaker, a film written by her parents.
Her recollection of the encounter was very warm and pleasant; she admired Clooney and described him as sincere and gracious. She was impressed by the fact that Clooney and her father were discussing politics, and by the idea that an actor could also speak so knowingly on such topics and be seen for his personal qualities, and not his fame.
5. Was sent to bed by Mick Jagger
To add more to the inconceivable celebrity encounters of Wilde’s childhood, we decided to immediately follow up on the last one with The Rolling Stones lead singer – Mick Jagger. Jagger was a friend of the family and was once invited to have dinner with the Cockburns, when 5 year-old Olivia came to the dining room to find a strange man sitting in her chair. Apparently annoyed by his presence, the toddler demanded he get out of her chair, to which he replied: ‘No, go to bed!’
It had since then become a joke between her and her mother, as the latter would like to often tell her: ‘Mick Jagger told you to go to bed.’
4. Ate 33 pancakes in 20 minutes
Bet you didn’t see that one coming. Indeed, smart, beautiful and well brought up Olivia Wilde managed to consume a whopping 33 pancakes in just 20 minutes as part of a competition. It’s kind of difficult to picture where she was able to stuff them all. Contrary to what you might think, the House star confessed to having a very large appetite and ‘not getting full easily’.
The pancake competition took place in Australia and was back when Wilde was still at the beginning of her brilliant career. She was told that a woman could never win and entered the contest out of sheer spite – proving them wrong by beating all the ‘giant men’, as she called them, who were in the race against her. Though pleased with the win, Wilde said she wouldn’t partake in competitive eating again.
3. Joined Artists for Peace and Justice in order to help restore Haiti
After the devastating earthquake that shook Haiti in 2010, Olivia Wilde – being the philanthropist and bighearted person that she is – became inspired to help the people of Haiti rebuild their home. To do this, she joined the non-profit organization called ‘Artists for Peace and Justice’, dedicated to aiding the provision of healthcare and education for the local population.
The idea came to her when she went to Haiti right after the disaster had struck. She was in the midst of it all, getting caught up in riots and shootings, walking some of the most dangerous places there – yet she was calm and even felt comfortable within her surroundings.
2. Received a note with advice from Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg was also among the versatile, largely famous friends of the Cockburns and Wilde first met him in her family’s home in Washington DC. The young girl was only thirteen years old, when the famous director presented her with his autograph, coupled with a note that he added. The note was a piece of advice and it said: ‘Olivia, if you want to be a doctor look before you leap; if you want to be in show business leap before you look.’ The actress was immensely excited to meet Spielberg, as she had by that time already become ‘obsessed with movies’, she revealed. Naturally, she kept the written advice with the autograph and still has it to this day – framed on her wall.
1. Her ancestor was Governor of Hong Kong
We weren’t joking when we said highborn. Olivia’s father comes from a long line of English members of the upper class, who at the height of the British Empire were scattered across the colonized countries. Many of their ancestors lived in Peking, Calcutta, Bombay, Cairo, and Tasmania – to name several places, and one of Wilde’s great-great-grandfathers, Henry Arthur Blake, was the Governor-General of Hong Kong from 1898 to 1903. After his tenure there, he was appointed Governor of Ceylon for another four years, before retiring to County Cork in Ireland.