Jury hears Rebel Wilson’s libel claim against Bauer

Actress Rebel Wilson’s claim against magazine publisher Bauer Media over articles which claimed she lied about her name, age, background and stories from her childhood began on Monday 22 May in the Victorian Supreme Court in Melbourne.

In the lawsuit, the actress claims the articles damaged her reputation and cost her film roles. The claim is over a story published in print and online in May 2015 in Women’s Day, and in other titles: The Australian Women’s WeeklyNW and OK! magazine. Rebel Wilson says the articles were timed to coincide with the release of her film Pitch Perfect 2. Wilson says the articles were defamatory, humiliating and caused damage both to her reputation and to her career. She claims the articles meant she was a ‘serial liar who has invented fantastic stories in order to make it in Hollywood’.

As well as damages for distress and injury to reputation, she is claiming special damages for roles she says she was removed from or lost out on as a consequence of the articles. One of the roles she claims to have lost out on was in Kung Fu Panda 3.

Defamation cases in Australia are still heard by a judge and jury, in contrast to England, where juries are now a thing of the past.

Giving evidence on her third day in the witness box, Wilson told the Court how upset she was when she went to a Dreamworks studio expecting to record extra lines for Kung Fu Panda 3, and instead was fired by studio boss Jeffrey Katzenberg.

‘I believed I had already finished the whole film and believed I was coming in to do a couple of additional lines,’ she told the jury.

‘Mr Katzenberg, the head of Dreamworks, came down from his office and said… “Unfortunately, you’re just too divisive to be in this movie. It’s a family movie. We will probably diminish your role or cut it out,”’ she said. ‘I was devastated. I had never been fired from a job before.’

Wilson blamed the publication of the articles for the termination of her contract. She also told the jury that she was let go from a role in another Dreamworks animation, Trolls, saying she thought it was for the same reason.

The trial, which is expected to last three weeks, is ongoing.