Rebel Wilson has won her defamation trial against the publishers of Woman’s Day.
Her legal team successfully convinced the six-woman jury that eight articles from Woman’s Day, Women’s Weekly, OK! Magazine and New Weekly in 2015 painted the actress as a liar, and damaged her career.
“I just think it’s really important that the truth comes out,” Wilson told reporters gathered outside the court on May 19.
Wilson maintained throughout the trial she had never lied about her real name, age or childhood, and on Thursday the jury returned unanimous verdicts in the actor’s favour.
Bauer Media’s defence argued the articles were substantially true and that they were not likely to cause harm to Wilson.
Here is everything you need to know about what went down in the courtroom.
In May 2015 Woman’s Day magazine published an article titled “Just who is the REAL Rebel?”. It was the first of eight pieces published over a three day period about the Pitch Perfect star.
Wilson claims the articles conveyed that she was a serial liar who invented fantastic stories in order to make it to Hollywood.
Wilson, 37, said the articles implied she had lied about her age, name and upbringing.
Wilson said they also implied she had lied about being caught in a shoot-out; being inside a cage with a leopard; contracting malaria; living in Zimbabwe; and her upbringing as being disadvantaged when it was not.
“Rebel’s world collapsed,” her barrister, Dr Matthew Collins, QC, told the court.
“Rebel knew instantly that the article was serious. It was a crisis. She thought she’d never been hit with such nastiness.”
He claimed Wilson was subsequently sacked from Trolls and Kung Fu Panda 3.
“It should have been the high point of her career… In fact, the phone stopped ringing.”
Wilson described herself as a “cashed-up bogan” on her first day of evidence.
One of the claims made against Bauer was that the article implied Wilson pretended she was from a working class background.
Her barrister asked Wilson to describe the meaning of the word bogan.
“You can say it is because you’re of a lower socio-economic group; you could say it is in the way you dress or your haircut or the way you speak or a general lack of culture,” she said.
“I kind of use it very endearingly… Probably right now I’d be a cashed-up bogan.”
She told the court of her childhood in the northwestern Sydney suburb of Castle Hill before the family moved to a suburb further west.
Her parents took different jobs – as an ESL teacher and petrol station attendant – to fund their daughter’s private school tuition.
“To me [the high school] was like a resort…. it was like, oh my god. I thought I was very lucky to go there.”
Her brother Ryan (Ryot) Bownds later told the court the family was not wealthy and that their parents made sacrifices to send their kids to private schools.
The court was shown photos of the caravan used for her parents’ ‘Petcetera Etcetera’ business through which they sold products – including the canine chocolates for which Wilson developed a taste – at dog shows.
One photo showed her as a junior dog trainer at a show in outer Sydney.
The jury was shown a picture of Wilson with malaria as a teenager.
She said she was given medicine after contracting the tropical disease in South Africa after finishing high school. The medicine caused her to hallucinate about being awarded an Oscar.
She rapped the fantasy acceptance speech to the jury: “Listen up y’all, I’ve got something to say, it is about this award that I won today.”
Wilson also told the court she had witnessed crossfire and dead bodies on this trip.
On her next day in the witness box, Wilson told the court she was related to Walt Disney.
Wilson told the court that she had “always known” that she was Disney’s grandniece.
“It is like knowing who your parents are,” she said.
She had discussed it on The Graham Norton Show in Britain.
“As far as I’m concerned… it’s a distant relationship, it’s something I’m proud of.”
Wilson said she had always been told her great aunt Lillian married Disney.
She told the court that her relation to the animator was the reason for her being accepted into Disneyland’s exclusive Club 33, for which she paid a $60,000 joining fee.
The jury was shown pictures of Wilson as a child on a trip to the Californian theme park.
Wilson even wore Mickey Mouse inspired shoes to court.
Wilson’s sister Liberty Mair gave evidence and agreed that Disney was a distant relative.
The court later heard that Wilson was offered an episode on the SBS documentary series Who Do You Think You Are?, a show where high profile Australians trace their geneology.
But her agent, Jacinta Waters, said Wilson turned down the offer.
The jury was played an episode of the Late Show With David Letterman.
In her appearance on the talk show, Wilson told Letterman she lived in a “ghetto” in Sydney.
“When you used the word ‘ghetto’, are you telling us that you mean that as a serious description of the suburb of Kenthurst?” Bauer Media’s barrister Georgina Schoff, QC asked Wilson.
“No, obviously that was a joke,” she responded. “Got a laugh.”
Schoff put it to Wilson that “to get a laugh, sometimes you have to exaggerate the facts”.
“I don’t need to lie to get laughs. Jokes are not lies, they are just jokes,” Wilson said.
Comedian Dave “Hughesy” Hughes and a bunch of supporters showed up with signs to rally behind the actress.
Wilson posed for pictures with them, holding her koala shaped clutch, which she carried throughout the trial.
Her real name was Melanie Elizabeth Bownds, but her mother nicknamed her Rebel after a six-year-old girl who had sung at her parents’ wedding, the court heard.
Wilson decided to legally change her name in 2002 to Rebel Elizabeth Melanie Wilson, taking her mother’s maiden name.
Shari Nementzik, who penned the articles, rejected assertions made by Wilson’s barrister Collins who said she had breached the journalistic code of ethics by leaving out facts from her piece and not giving Wilson a right of reply.
Collins also showed Nementzik a number of articles which stated Wilson’s age was 34 (at the time) but the journalist said she hadn’t seen some of them.
“There’s a lot of confusing research,” Nementzik said.
“No I don’t believe I misled my readers.”
The source commented on a story on the Woman’s Day website in 2012 which claimed she had gone to high school with Wilson and said: “what a lier [sic] she had become!!”
She claimed Wilson added a touch of “fantasy” to stories about her life in order to “make it in Hollywood”.
Nementzik said everyone knows tabloid magazines work on “chequebook journalism” for their stories and that the source was paid $2,000 for providing further information.
Nementzik said her publication decided to revisit the story in May 2015 during the release of Pitch Perfect 2.
Wilson admitted she asked Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood to remove an article which included her real age and an “unflattering” photo of her.
The picture showed Wilson, aged 22, with black, curly hair and accompanied a 2002 article about her trip to New York after she won one of four $12,000 scholarships from the Australian Theatre for Young People.
Wilson told the court she emailed Hywood in February, 2015, to request removal of the article, which stated her age at the time.
“I was in a business relationship with him and he’d asked me to reach out if I ever needed anything,” she said.
The closing legal arguments got heated.
Wilson’s barrister Collins said Bauer Media’s barrister Schoff had “sullied” Wilson’s childhood memories and that his client had showed “enormous dignity” while mud was “thrown at her”.
He said Nementzik should not have treated other media reports of his client “as gospel” and said: “That’s not research – it’s plagiarism.”
Schoff said Wilson hadn’t been “forthright” on a number of matters, and that it wasn’t correct that the actor’s career had slowed down, telling the jury that Wilson had signed contracts worth millions of dollars since the article was published.
The judge quoted Shakespeare’s Othello to the jury.
A smiling Wilson addressed reporters outside the court after her successful verdict on Thursday.
“It is a win for everybody who gets… taken down,” she said.
“It has been an anxious wait, waiting for two days.”
Wilson said she had been distracting herself by thinking about filming an upcoming movie with “fellow Aussie” Chris Hemsworth in which she will get to kiss him.
“I’ve just been thinking about pashing him and how good that is going to be.”
Judge Dixon will assess damages at a later date.
Gina Rushton is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Gina Rushton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.