Olivia Wilde has again defended her role as journalist Kathy Scruggs in the upcoming movie “Richard Jewell,” saying that she does not believe her character traded sex for tips and did not intend to portray her as such.
In a long string of tweets, Wilde characterized Scruggs as “bold, smart, and fearlessly undeterred by the challenge of being a female reporter in the south in the 1990s,” saying that, as the child of journalists herself, she has a “deep respect” for their work.
“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,” Wilde wrote.
“The perspective of the fictional dramatization 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.”
She said that while this was her personal take, she could not speak for any creative license taken by the film’s creators.
Earlier this week, Wilde responded to the controversy in a red-carpet conversation with Variety, saying that it was a “shame” that the late journalist had been “reduced to one inferred moment in the film.”
“It’s a basic misunderstanding of feminism as pious, sexlessness. It happens a lot to women; we’re expected to be one-dimensional if we are to be considered feminists,” she said.
The movie, set for release Friday, tells the story of the 1996 Summer Olympics bombing in Atlanta. Jewell, a security guard, briefly became a national hero for discovering the bomb and saving lives, but then his hometown paper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, broke the news that the FBI was investigating him as a person of interest in the bombing.
He became the subject of immense media scrutiny before being cleared months later. The AJC was among multiple news outlets sued after Jewell was cleared, but the litigation was dismissed as the court concluded the reporting was substantially true at the time of publication, the newspaper said.
In one scene in the film, Scruggs asks an FBI agent where they are going to have sex after she’s given insider information about the investigation, Deadline reported.
AJC’s legal team wrote a letter to the film’s director, Clint Eastwood, and studio Warner Bros. on Monday, calling elements of the film “defamatory” for portraying its former journalist Scruggs, who died in 2001, as willing to trade sex for tips.
The newspaper is requesting that the studio publicly acknowledge that “some events were imagined for dramatic purposes and artistic license and dramatization were used in the film’s portrayal of events and characters. We further demand that you add a prominent disclaimer to the film to that effect.”
Warner Bros., in a statement, issued a fiery rebuke to the letter, defending the film as being based on a “wide range of highly credible source material.”
“There is no disputing that Richard Jewell was an innocent man whose reputation and life were shredded by a miscarriage of justice. It is unfortunate and the ultimate irony that the Atlanta Journal Constitution, having been a part of the rush to judgment of Richard Jewell, is now trying to malign our filmmakers and cast.”