Hollywood is currently in the midst of a terrible scandal. Many powerful stars and producers, including producer Harvey Weinstein and actor Kevin Spacey, have been accused of serious sexual misconduct or worse. The #MeToo campaign was created on social media to encourage other possible victims to speak out. Now Pitch Perfect star Rebel Wilson has shared some upsetting details on Twitter.
Rebel Wilson shot to international fame in the Pitch Perfect film series, the first of which came out in 2012. Prior to that, she had worked the comedy circuit for a good few years in her native Australia. As she told Variety in 2011, it was actually a malaria-induced dream about winning an Oscar that first convinced her to change from comedy to acting.
Audiences were impressed by Wilson’s comedy skills and talent for slapstick. But they were also impressed by her refusal to conform to Hollywood’s usual physical standards for women. She was unapologetically fat in an industry where thinness was worshipped. In 2015, Wilson told Cosmopolitan how she considered her size a help rather than a hindrance.
“Being unique and different was a really good thing,” Wilson said. “When I walked into my agent’s office for the first time, they looked at me and said, ‘Wow, we have nobody on our books like you.’ And they signed me on my second day [there].” Ever since then, she hasn’t slimmed down. According to her, she’s actually contracted not to lose weight for Pitch Perfect.
“I saw my size as being an advantage,” she told the Telegraph in July 2016, “whereas so many women see it as a disadvantage.” That year, she was at the height of her powers, starring in the movies Absolutely Fabulous, Grimsby and How to Be Single, as well as the stage musicals Guys and Dolls and The Little Mermaid.
But she was also fighting a major battle against an Australian woman’s magazine. In May 2015 the publication Woman’s Day alleged that Wilson had deliberately lied about her age and other things to try and make it in Hollywood. Wilson filed a defamation suit against them in 2016, claiming that the article had cost her movie roles.
In June 2017, the jury in the defamation case found that Woman’s Day and its publisher Bauer Media Group had indeed acted wrongly. A few months later, on September 13, Wilson was awarded a seven-figure sum in damages. She planned to donate some of it to charity and scholarships and use the rest for the creation of jobs in the Australian film industry.
Wilson tweeted the case’s verdict to her Twitter followers, who number almost three million. “Today was the end of a long and hard court battle against Bauer Media, who viciously tried to take me down with a series of false articles,” she wrote on September 13. “Bauer Media traded recklessly on my reputation in order to boost its own profits.”
“To me though, this case wasn’t about the money,” she continued. “I’m looking forward to helping out some great Australian charities and supporting the Oz film industry with the damages I’ve received. Also looking forward to getting back to my career and entertaining everyone!” But the very next month, the Weinstein scandal broke.
Many, many celebrities, especially female ones, were inspired to come forward with their experiences of sexual assault or harassment. In October Lady Gaga, Jenny Slate, Evangeline Lilly, Tracee Ellis Ross, Evan Rachel Wood and plenty of others used the hashtag #MeToo on social media, sometimes telling their own stories in detail and sometimes not.
And in November, Rebel Wilson shared hers. “I’ve been away in a ‘bubble’ of sorts creating new comedy overseas, but it’s so hard to hear all these stories relating to sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood,” she wrote on Twitter on November 11. “As you guys know, I’m a pretty strong and confident person, but even I have a story to tell.”
That story was not a pleasant one. “A male star, in a position of power, asked me to go into a room with him, and then asked me repeatedly to stick my finger up his ass,” she wrote. “All whilst his male ‘friends’ tried to film the incident on their iPhones and laughed. I repeatedly said no and eventually got out of the room.”
Wilson went on to describe the aftermath. “I called my agent immediately and my lawyer made a complaint with the studio – basically to protect myself, [so that if] something similar ever occurred I’d be able to walk out of the job and not [be] obliged to return.” But, unfortunately, there was more.
“Later, I was threatened by one of the star’s representatives to be nice and support the male star. I refused,” she said. “The whole thing was disgusting. I’ve told hundreds of people in the industry the story in more graphic detail, basically to warn them off this individual.” In the comments, people speculated who the male star was, but Wilson wouldn’t say.
She had another story to share as well, this one about a lucky escape. “Earlier in my career, I also had a ‘hotel room’ encounter with a top director. I thought we were there to talk comedy. Nothing physical happened because the guy’s wife called and started abusing him over the phone for sleeping with actresses,” she said.
“Luckily she was yelling so loud that I could hear her, and I bolted out of there immediately. I was so naive [that] the thought of anything happening apart from ‘work talk’ didn’t even cross my mind,” Wilson wrote. “I know my stories aren’t as horrific as other women and men have described – but if you’ve ever experienced anything like this I feel for you and can relate on some level.”
“I know, moving forward, that if I witness this behavior, whether it happens to me or someone I know, I will no longer be POLITE. Interpret that as you will,” she finished. In the comments beneath her post, many people were supportive. But others accused her of “protecting” the man she had not named, and some even implied that she was lying.
However, there are many reasons why a woman might not name a sexual harasser or abuser. One is simply fear. Wilson had already stated that the man who allegedly tried to coerce her into sex wielded more power in the industry than she did. This is at the core of many of the allegations currently being made in Hollywood: victims feared they would never work again if they told.
The statistics surrounding sexual misconduct aren’t promising ones. In 2015, Cosmopolitan held a study and concluded that one in three young women had been victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. And an earlier study, undertaken by the University of Michigan and published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology in 2003, found that two-thirds of people who reported sexual mistreatment noticed retaliation afterwards.
So it’s clear that there’s a long way still to go, even though the #MeToo campaign is generally considered an ongoing success. It remains to be seen whether Wilson will name the man who harassed her: she may still decide not to. But she’s already won one major battle this year, so the odds are certainly on her side if she does.