Olivia Jane Cockburn was born on March 10, 1984 in New York City to parents Andrew and Leslie Cockburn. Olivia was raised primarily in Washington, D.C. and for a short time, Olivia’s family had a house in Guilford, Vermont. Both of her parents were prominent in the D.C. social scene, hosting dinner parties for the city’s elite. Her mother once recounted a story of a young Olivia eavesdropping one night on a conversation between Richard Holbrooke and Mick Jagger – until Mick noticed her and shooed Olivia to bed. Olivia has stated that she has wanted to become an actress since the tender age of two. Olivia attended Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C., as well as Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts; where she graduated in 2002. After graduating, Olivia attended The Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin, Ireland for a short time. Coming from a family with many novelists, journalists and authors; Olivia has said that as a result of her family background, she has a “strong journalistic streak”, being “really critical and analytical”. She initially began working as a casting assistant and it was working on the set of the film “The Girl Next Door” (which she did for a month) – where she made her big screen debut after being asked to join the cast.
Olivia married Italian-American documentary filmmaker, photographer, flamenco guitar player, and son of an Italian prince Tao Ruspoli on June 7, 2003 – in Washington, Virginia on a school bus with only a pair of witnesses. Sadly, the couple separated in January 2011 and Olivia officially filed for divorce on March 11, 2011.
Shortly after filming “The Girl Next Door”, Olivia landed the lead in a Fox drama series “Skin”. Although the series only lasted 6 episodes, it garnered interest from many fans and helped Olivia land a role on another Fox drama, this time a hit show, “The O.C.”. Olivia played Alex Kelly who was a bisexual and dated both Seth Cohen and Marissa Cooper during the course of Season 2 of the series.
Her role on “The O.C.” gave her the opportunity to work in many films, some were cult classics (“Alpha Dog”, “Turistas”) and others were critically acclaimed (“The Death and Life of Bobby Z”, “Fix”). “Fix”, which was directed by her husband, Tao, garnered praise from the jury at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and won best feature at the Vail Film Festival in 2008.
In 2007, Olivia signed on to co-star in the series “The Black Donnellys”, which lasted 13 episodes. The series follows four young Roman Catholic Irish-American brothers in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood and their involvement with petty and organized crime. Set in the present day, the show draws heavily upon Irish-American history and iconic themes. Olivia portrayed Jenny Reilly, she was childhood friends with Tommy (Jonathan Tucker) and rest of the Donnelly boys, Jenny runs a local diner with her father. She and Tommy have a complicated and strained relationship. 7 of the 13 original episodes were aired online after NBC canceled the series due to lack of viewers.
Olivia joined the cast of the Fox medical drama “House M.D.” in the autumn of 2007, playing a young internist, Dr. Remy Hadley (also known as “Thirteen”) who works closely with Dr. House. She told Star magazine how she sometimes takes cues from her character even when she’s 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.'” Thirteen is a secretive character who does not divulge personal information; her surname was not used on the show until the fourth season finale “House’s Head” and her given name wasn’t revealed until the fifth season episode “Emancipation”. After hints were given regarding her character’s sexuality, Olivia revealed her character is indeed bisexual. It was announced the May 2010 that Olivia would be sitting out on the beginning of season 7 – due to her filming commitment to the highly buzzed sci-fi film “Cowboys & Aliens”. Executive producer, Katie Jacobs explained how the show will deal with Thirteen’s absence and return to the show; “When Thirteen does come back, it’s not like she’s just going to be sitting in the office doing a diagnosis. There’s a real reason why she had to leave – it’s surprising and juicy and it deepens her character and our understanding of her.” In April 2011, Olivia returned to “House” and it was revealed that Thirteen has been absent from her duties due to her being locked up in prison for a year. It was a big plot twist that many fans were not expecting – but a great explanation for her absence. Olivia returned to the series in the show’s eighth and final season in 3 episodes – including the final two of the series that aired May 2012.
“House” helped make Olivia a household name and she began getting larger roles in bigger film projects. In 2009, she was featured as a princess (fitting for a real-life princess) in the comedy “Year One” co-starring alongside comedy legend Jack Black and comedy new-comer Michael Cera. Olivia also has a major role in the much anticipated “Tron: Legacy”, which is a sequel – 28 years later – to the cult classic “Tron”. The film had a worldwide release in 3-D on December 17, 2010 and was one of the most talked about films at the Comic-Con convention – 3 years in a row!
Sticking with the sci-fi, highly anticipated “theme”, Olivia snagged a role in the film “Cowboys & Aliens” as Ella, who joins up with mysterious gunslinger in an unlikely uprising against an alien invasion. The film is being directed by Jon Favreau (who directed the “Iron Man” movies) and co-stars Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford. The film is was released in July of 2011 after a world premiere at Comic-Con.
“Butter” which saw a film festival release in 2011 and will see a theatrical release in the fall of 2012, will showcase Olivia’s comedic timing as Brooke (a stripper) in this film that focuses on the butter carving talents of a few midwesterners. The all-star cast includes Jennifer Garner, Hugh Jackman, Alicia Silverstone, Ty Burrell and Ashley Greene.
In the year 2012, Olivia can be seen in five upcoming features. “The Words”, a drama about a writer at the peak of his literary success who discovers the steep price he must pay for stealing another man’s work, co-starring Bradley Cooper, Dennis Quaid and Zoe Saldana. “Deadfall”, a thriller about siblings who are on the run with the stolen loot from a casino job gone horribly wrong whom encounter an ex-boxer Jay and his parents, June and retired sheriff Chet that end up having their worlds collide in a twist of fate, with Eric Bana, Charlie Hunnam, Sissy Spacek, Kris Kristofferson and Kate Mara. “People Like Us” about a man who is tasked with delivering $150,000 of his deceased father’s fortune to the sister he has never met, co-starring Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks. “The Longest Week” a “dramedy” about a man who lives in leisure in his parent’s prestigious Manhattan Hotel until he finds himself evicted, disinherited, and… in love all in the span of one week, starring Jason Bateman and Billy Crudup. And “Black Dog, Red Dog” a drama short film from James Franco which will also star Chloë Sevigny.
Olivia still has another five films in production including “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” a comedy with Jim Carrey and Steve Carell. “Rush” a biography of Formula 1 champion driver Niki Lauda and the 1976 crash that almost claimed his life. “Better Living Through Chemistry” about a straight-laced pharmacist’s uneventful life that spirals out of control when he starts an affair with a trophy wife customer who takes him on a joyride involving sex, drugs and possibly murder. “Relanxious” a comedy starring real life boyfriend Jason Sudeikis, about awoman who suffers from anxiety attacks and falls for an agoraphobic guy. “Third Person” a drama about three interlocking love stories involving three couples in three Cities: Rome, Paris, and New York, with Liam Neeson and Naomi Watts.
With all this time on film and television sets, Olivia has still found time to share her voice and be an activist for numerous causes. She is the Co Executive Director of Artists for Peace and Justice, which provides education and health services in Haiti, since 2008. Olivia has made many trips to Haiti, before and after the devastating earthquake, and has been vocal about the country and the ways that it can benefit from the help of others. With the APJ, Olivia has produced two documentary films about the people of Haiti titled “Sun City Picture House” and “Baseball in the Time of Cholera”. Both films saw successful runs during their time at film festivals across the US.
This year APJ moves into a new phase of providing secondary education to the poorest children, none of whom have ever been offered the chance to continue school past the 6th grade if they’re very lucky.
Olivia proudly sits on the foundation board of the ACLU Southern California, and, besides scrambling to raise money for their crucial work each year, she is focusing on inspiring young Americans to get involved and support the ACLU in their efforts to protect basic civil rights. Olivia was a supporter of the youth voter organization, 18 in ’08. She served on their advisory council and appeared in a public service announcement that debuted June 30, 2008. Beginning in the fall of 2007, she began campaigning with actors Justin Long and her former “House” castmate Kal Penn for the 2008 Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama. In 2008, she also appeared in the Moveon.org mock-PSA “supporting” the right of the health-care insurance industry to maintain their high profits. Being from D.C. has, no doubt, instilled a strong of patriotism and political awareness in Olivia, in her own words (via WildeThings.org) “Growing up in DC, the child of two investigative journalists, Olivia has been passionate about political participation since she was old enough to protest on the Mall.”
In 2012, Olivia launched a new charity called Campaign Happiness which aims to support development projects in Haiti. The mission statement is “Campaign Happiness…believes that happiness comes from giving… Inspires people to take action with purpose… Starts the conversation of what happiness means to each of us… Is an ongoing discovery.” The first project the charity did was design a messenger bag for Alternative Apparel where sales are donated to APJ.
Being an environmentalist and animal lover, Olivia is a strict Vegan (although she claimed to have a relapse and indulge in cheese following her divorce) and shares her favorite recipes on her Twitter account, which she calls “Meatless Monday”. Olivia has this say about her decision to be meatless:
I’m a firm believer in the adage “your dollar is your vote.” Often we forget the power of each of our purchases. We are the consumer, the demand, and the fuel for every industry we choose to support. Therefore, I try to be mindful about where my dollar votes go, and this is a huge reason I have chosen to adopt a Vegan diet.
All this means is that I don’t eat food that comes from animals. Now, some of you might be saying “but not all animal products come from the evil meat and dairy industries! What about the small farmers who massage their cattle to sleep every night and milk their goats with warm hands while singing lullabies???” My response to that is that I WISH the food available to us in 99% of markets in this country came from sweet, small family farms. Sadly it is incredibly difficult to ensure that you are not perpetuating a cycle of cruelty that is only getting worse as demand rises and profits grow.
Beyond my desire to boycott the torture factories, I am also way happier when I eat a plant based diet, and I feel about a thousand times more energetic.
So there you have it. I don’t want to force my way of life on anyone else, but I do like to share articles, recipes, and ideas so we can all engage in useful discussions.
PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has taken note of Olivia’s dedication to the cause and awarded her the award “Sexiest Vegetarian For 2010”.
Olivia supports so many other charities and organizations – you can learn more about them at the charities page on this website.
When she’s not busy being an amazing actress and an all-around awesome chick, Olivia spends her time in the “trendy” area Silverlake, which is a neighborhood within Los Angeles, California with her dog, Paco. Since beginning to date “Saturday Night Live” funnyman Jason Sudeikis in late 2011, Olivia has been spending most of her free time in New York City. Olivia loves to dance, loves to cook, and is generally an optimist.
Updated: July 3, 2012 – Biography written and © Olivia Wilde Source. Please do not re-post or copy on to other websites, thank you!