Olivia Wilde clarifies intention behind portrayal of controversial Richard Jewell character

Richard Jewell star Olivia Wilde has insisted it wasn’t her intention to suggest her journalist character traded sex for tips in the movie.Clint Eastwood’s new film tells the story of Richard Jewell, a security guard who discovered a bomb and ushered p…

Richard Jewell star Olivia Wilde has insisted it wasn’t her intention to suggest her journalist character traded sex for tips in the movie.

Clint Eastwood’s new film tells the story of Richard Jewell, a security guard who discovered a bomb and ushered people to safety at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. After initially being hailed as a hero, he became one of the most persecuted people in America after a media report, written by Wilde’s character Kathy Scruggs, suggested he may have planted the explosive in the first place.

One scene, in which Scruggs appears to trade sex with an FBI agent, played by Jon Hamm, in order to get her story, has sparked controversy, with bosses of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where Scruggs worked, threatening studio Warner Bros. with a defamation lawsuit over the depiction of their journalists.

On Thursday night, Wilde took to Twitter to praise Scruggs and clarify her intention behind the character.

“Contrary to a swath of recent headlines, I do not believe that Kathy ‘traded sex for tips’. Nothing in my research suggested she did so, and it was never my intention to suggest she had. That would be an appalling and misogynistic dismissal of the difficult work she did,” she wrote. “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, who made her directorial debut with Booksmart earlier this year, admitted that she could not control “the voice and message of the film” as an actor and that her opinions about Scruggs might differ from the filmmakers.

“I cannot speak for the creative decisions made by the filmmakers, as I did not have a say in how the film was ultimately crafted, but it’s important to me that I share my personal take on the matter,” the 35-year-old added.

Richard Jewell, released on Friday, will feature a disclaimer at the end, which reads: “The film is based on actual historical events. Dialogue and certain events and characters contained in the film were created for the purposes of dramatisation.”

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