Rebel Wilson: A quick guide to her rise to stardom from Australia to Hollywood

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Rebel Wilson sitting on a sofaImage source, Getty Images

Rebel Wilson is an international movie star best known for her roles in Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect. Here’s what you need to know about the Australian actress.

Rebel Wilson was born on 2 March 1980 in Australia

She grew up in the suburbs of Sydney, where her parents were professional dog handlers, breeding beagles in their garage.

The Australian’s first TV gig was for a show called Burke’s Backyard, which ran for 17 years from 1987. One episode featured the Wilsons’ family pets and Rebel as an extra.

She contracted malaria in Africa and had hallucinations about fame

After high school at age 19, Wilson went to Africa as a youth ambassador but caught malaria in rural Mozambique. While recovering in hospital, she had hallucinations about winning an Oscar.

When she returned to Australia, Wilson told family and friends that the “malaria vision” had convinced her to pursue a career in acting.

But finding fame was not easy

Wilson was rejected five times from Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art, according to the New York Times.

When she arrived in Hollywood, Wilson auditioned for almost 30 screen roles before being cast in Bridesmaids – a 2011 comedy blockbuster that made her a household name. She originally auditioned to play Melissa McCarthy’s character, but film-makers decided to add her to the script as a second room-mate alongside British comedian Matt Lucas.

Wilson was cast as the ‘fat funny character’ in several Hollywood hits

Image source, Getty Images

The Australian actress became widely adored by fans for playing roles like “Fat Amy” in Pitch Perfect, a movie franchise starting in 2012 in which she starred as a hilarious and eccentric member in the Bellas singing group.

“I love doing those roles, I love those characters, but then I did want to do more things,” Wilson has said. “I felt like being the bigger girl, you’re just more pigeon-holed.”

By the end of 2019, Wilson had one of the most financially successful years of her life, earning more than $20m (£16m) for Pitch Perfect 3, Isn’t It Romantic and The Hustle – Hollywood movies in which she played very similar characters.

She decided to ‘get healthier’ but not everyone was supportive

Image source, Getty Images

In 2020, Wilson told her agent she wanted to do a “year of health”, but she claims people around her pushed back, saying she would lose the edge that made her successful. “The agency liked me fat because they got hundreds of thousands of dollars in commission for each film where I played the fat funny girl,” she said.

Wilson lost 80lb (36kg) and shared her physical transformation online, often opening up about past problems with binge eating. She said losing weight showed her how powerful stereotypes still are when some people claimed she could no longer be funny as a slimmer person. The lifestyle change was prompted by doctors who said it would help her chances with fertility treatment.

Rebel had a daughter using a surrogate

At 20, Wilson was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, which can lead to difficulties getting pregnant. She reportedly went through several rounds of treatment before deciding to use a surrogate to carry her baby. Her first child Royce was born in 2022.

Rebel told the BBC: “I was the classic example of a career woman who went out into the world, didn’t even think about kids, and then suddenly in your mid 30s is like, ‘Oh, hang on, do I want that as an option?'”

Rebel Wilson is engaged to girlfriend Ramona Agruma

The actress proposed to Ms Agruma, a fashion and jewellery designer, at Disneyland in 2023. The pair were introduced through a mutual friend and started an “old-fashioned” texting and messaging relationship before they met in person, Wilson told Vogue.

In her new book, Rebel Rising, the star has talked about being a “late bloomer” and losing her virginity at 35. It was in the 2022 movie The Almond and the Seahorse that Wilson first kissed a woman, co-actress Charlotte Gainsbourg.

The release of her book was pushed back in the UK and Australia

Rebel Rising is a memoir about Wilson’s sexuality, weight and fertility. It made headlines when the US version was released because it contained allegations against Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen, who Wilson starred alongside in the 2016 film Grimsby

The British edition of the book, published on 25 April 2024, blacked out text believed to be relating to him. A spokesman for Baron Cohen said the redactions represented a “clear victory”, and reiterated his position that Wilson’s claims were “demonstrably false”.

Publishers said they moved the UK and Australia release back to “coincide with Rebel Wilson’s press tours”.

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