Olivia Wilde Defends Richard Jewell Sex-for-Scoops Role

Clint Eastwood’s upcoming Richard Jewell drama doesn’t open until December 13th, but there’s already plenty of ink being spilled on the film. 

The story centers on Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Kathy Scruggs, portrayed by Olivia Wilde. In the script, which was written by Billy Ray, Scruggs seems to offer up sexual favors to FBI agent Jon Hamm in exchange for a scoop.

The agent says: “Kathy, you couldn’t f*** it out of them. What makes you think you could f*** it out of me?” 

The film also implies that they already slept together and some say, it implies that Scruggs resorts to sex-for-scoops tradeoffs on the reg. In a statement to IndieWire, Atlanta Journal editor-in-chief Kevin Riley said “there is no evidence that this ever happened” and called the film’s suggestion that Scruggs traded sex for news info “offensive and deeply troubling in the #MeToo era.” 

Film critics have agreed, but Wilde stands by her portrayal. She told Variety: “I think it’s a shame that she has 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. There’s a complexity to Kathy, as there is to all of us, and I really admired her.”

Wilde added, “I did a ton of research, I really embraced her dynamic, multidimensional nuanced personality. She was incredibly dogged and intrepid. She was famous for getting to crime scenes before the police.”

She also said that the backlash is sexist; why is her character being criticized while Hamm’s is left out of the convo?

Wilde said, “She was also a woman working in the news in 1996; yeah, she had relationships with people she worked with. That’s pretty common in any industry. I don’t see the same thing happening to Jon Hamm’s character, who arguably does the exact same thing. I have nothing but respect for Kathy Scruggs, she’s no longer with us, so I feel a certain amount of responsibility to protect her legacy and tell people: ‘Back off. Don’t reduce her to this one thing.’”