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Olivia Wilde opens up about controversial depiction of female journalist in Richard Jewell

Clint Eastwood’s Richard Jewell has been criticised for depicting that late Atlanta Journal reporter Kathy Scruggs, played by Olivia Wilde, exchanged sexual favours for a tip about the suspect from an FBI agent investigating the 1996 Atlanta bombing.

By: PTI | Los Angeles | Published: December 14, 2019 12:31:59 pm
Olivia Wilde Richard Jewell Olivia Wilde said she could not speak about the “creative decisions” made by director Clint Eastwood in the film. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Hollywood star Olivia Wilde has clarified her stand on the controversy over her character, a female journalist, in Clint Eastwood’s film Richard Jewell”, saying she had no creative control over the depiction as an actor.

The actor, in a series of tweets, said Kathy Scruggs, who she portrays in the real-life inspired drama, was “bold, smart, and fearlessly undeterred by the challenge of being a female reporter in the south in the 1990s.”

The film has been criticised for depicting that late Atlanta Journal reporter Scruggs exchanged sex for a tip about the suspect from an FBI agent investigating the 1996 Atlanta bombing.

Eastwood’s film implies that Scruggs sleeps with a federal agent, who tips her that security guard Richard Jewell is the suspect in the bombing. Scruggs and reporter Ron Martz went on to break the story of Jewell being under suspicion.

Jewell’s name was cleared 88 days later. Billy Ray wrote the screenplay of Eastwood’s film based on the Vanity Fair article by Marie Brenner.

Wilde, the child of journalists, said she had deep respect for the essential work of all in their field, “particularly today when the media is routinely attacked and discredited, and regional papers like the AJC are disappearing on a daily basis.”

The actor said she could not speak about the “creative decisions” made by the filmmaker as “I did not have a say in how the film was ultimately crafted, but it’s important to me that I share my personal take on the matter.”.

“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.

“My previous comments about female sexuality were lost in translation, so let me be clear: I do not believe sex-positivity and professionalism are mutually exclusive. Kathy Scruggs was a modern, independent woman whose personal life should not detract from her accomplishments.

“She unfortunately became a piece of the massive puzzle that was responsible for the brutal and unjust vilification of an innocent man, Richard Jewell, and that tragedy is what this film attempts to shed light on,” Wilde added.

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