The SWEET SMELL of SUC­CESS

InStyle (USA) - - Bbb • Hair - by LAURA BROWN pho­tographed by ROB­BIE FIM­MANO styled by KATIE MOSSMAN

Hav­ing es­tab­lished her own brand of com­edy, ac­tress REBEL WIL­SON is ready to un­leash the full range of her tal­ents. But first, her next great role: fra­grance model

WWhat Rebel Wil­son shares with the world, what has landed her front and cen­ter on the prover­bial big screen, is her sin­gu­lar, la­conic comedic tal­ent. But spend time with Wil­son and she doesn’t per­form for you. In­stead, she projects a sim­ple hon­esty and con­fi­dence. There is ab­so­lutely no se­cond-guessing.

Wil­son will be the first to tell you she never ex­pected to be on the cover of a fash­ion mag­a­zine, but she’ll also proudly re­mind you she has a law de­gree (which she uses of­ten, giv­ing coun­sel to friends) and, well, a pretty good read on the world. If Wil­son weren’t an ac­tress, she could be a dev­il­ishly ef­fec­tive life coach. Or she could run for of­fice, but we’ll get to that.

We met up in Paris on what hap­pened to be Wil­son’s 39th birth­day. She was stay­ing at the Ritz, at­tend­ing the Givenchy show and shame­lessly en­joy­ing her­self. Then she headed back to her na­tive Aus­tralia to flex some more se­ri­ous mus­cle in the crime-drama se­ries Les Nor­ton. This month she will star in The Hus­tle, a re­make of 1988’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, along­side Anne Hath­away.

Come to think of it, The Hus­tle could also be a handy name for a Rebel Wil­son biopic.

LAURA BROWN: Did you ever think that 10 years af­ter you came to the States—from Syd­ney—you would be shoot­ing In­style’s Beauty Is­sue cover? Quite the leap, eh? REBEL WIL­SON: There is no way on earth I thought this would hap­pen be­cause—i’ll put it this way—i never got any­where be­cause of my looks. I got places be­cause I had a good brain and a good imag­i­na­tion. Only since mov­ing to the States was I like, “Peo­ple pay at­ten­tion to what I wear. I should try to class it up a lit­tle bit.” I like be­ing com­fort­able, and I come from a fam­ily where peo­ple didn’t re­ally care what you looked like. They didn’t judge you on that. LB: Well, that’s the best place to come from rather than the other way around. RW: I had friends whose moth­ers told them to al­ways be put to­gether and to look a cer­tain way when you leave the house. I was the com­plete op­po­site. No one in my fam­ily went to the beauty sa­lon. I didn’t even get my nails done un­til I was 25. It took my best friend Nick look­ing at my feet one day and go­ing, “You should maybe do some­thing about your nails,” for me to re­al­ize that I should go to a nail sa­lon. Now I’m ob­sessed with go­ing. I’m there ev­ery two weeks. LB: How much did mov­ing to Hol­ly­wood change your self­im­age for bet­ter or for worse? RW: When I walked into my agency, Wil­liam Mor­ris En­deavor, on my se­cond day in Hol­ly­wood, 10 years ago, they were like, “Wow, we have no­body who looks like you.” I’m as­sum­ing they meant a plus-size girl. LB: OK. Didn’t have any real ladies. RW: No, but there were a lot of glam­ours. You look at the peo­ple who came out of Aus­tralia be­fore me, like Ni­cole Kid­man, Cate Blanchett, Naomi Watts. There are tons more now, but back then they were the glam­ours. I’ve kind of grown into my looks. Or maybe I’m just tak­ing a bit more pride in my ap­pear­ance now, which I think is a pos­i­tive thing be­cause I was too far the other way be­fore. I was like, “I’ll just wear this base­ball cap.” I’m still like that some­times, but, par­tic­u­larly when you’re dat­ing, you do need to pay at­ten­tion. LB: Do you feel like you have a health­ier at­ti­tude to­ward your ap­pear­ance now? RW: Ac­tu­ally, when you get pa­parazzi’d and stuff, it does make you think about it. When Pitch Per­fect came out, I be­came in­ter­na­tion­ally fa­mous, and peo­ple were hang­ing out­side my house to take my photo. You have to think about it a bit more than a nor­mal per­son. But I’m a pretty low-main­te­nance chick. Through work­ing with my stylist, Eliz­a­beth Ste­wart, I’ve learned all th­ese lit­tle tips and tricks—and they re­ally work. Then you feel more com­fort­able when you have to dress up. I re­mem­ber I didn’t even go to a friend’s wedding in my 20s be­cause I didn’t know where to buy a dress in my size. Now it is the op­po­site. Now I have a wardrobe full of cus­tom Givenchy. LB: You fancy now. RW: Now it is very dif­fer­ent. My fam­ily is go­ing to hate me for say­ing this, but they raid my closet be­cause we wear sim­i­lar sizes and they know I have the best fash­ion taste. I know what I’m talk­ing about now. So I find that I im­part a lot of my knowl­edge, es­pe­cially to plus-size girls.

LB: How proud is your fam­ily of you? RW: They’re Aus­tralian, so they’re very down-to- earth about ev­ery­thing. But they just came out for the pre­mière [of Isn’t It Ro­man­tic], and you can tell they’re re­ally proud about the kind of pos­i­tive mes­sages I’m putting in the work. I feel like I rep­re­sent them and a lot of peo­ple where I come from in the roles I play. LB: You’ve done so much in a rel­a­tively short time. RW: If you look at the odds of some­one from Aus­tralia mak­ing it, they’re pretty small. When I look at all the things I’ve done in my ca­reer ... I feel like I’ve got so much far­ther to go. But I am re­ally proud, and, you know, I didn’t have to sleep my way to the top. [ laughs] LB: Le­git. You got there by hav­ing some snap. RW: Yeah, and by be­ing unique and true to my­self. Now I’m pro­duc­ing movies too. It’s much more than I could have ever dreamed about. When I first came to Amer­ica, I just wanted to get in one Hol­ly­wood film. LB: What was the first one? Brides­maids? RW: Yes. I’d done a cameo in a movie called Ghost Rider, which was filmed in Mel­bourne and was tech­ni­cally a Hol­ly­wood film, but it wasn’t shot in Amer­ica, so Brides­maids was my first one, re­ally. LB: You’ve grown into your­self. And then the con­fi­dence came, and you just trans­mit it. RW: Oprah used to say [some­thing like] that a lot, and I never quite re­al­ized un­til now what she meant. Be­cause you do get into a groove with your­self and learn stuff along your jour­ney. So I do know how to dress for all oc­ca­sions now, but I still haven’t mas­tered blow-dry­ing my own hair. [ laughs] LB: Yeah, ’cause you’ve got the curly hair, gotta tame it. But can you be tamed, Rebel? RW: I’ll al­ways have a bit of re­bel­lious­ness in­side me. LB: There’s a lot to live up to be­ing called Rebel. RW: I know, but I think I do it. I’d shock some peo­ple if they knew some of the things I do. LB: Care to drop one? RW: No, but I was think­ing about it this morn­ing be­cause, you know, some peo­ple go out and get smashed on their birth­days, but I get re­flec­tive. So I wrote a lit­tle let­ter to my­self, and I was like, “Con­grat­u­la­tions on ev­ery­thing. You’re do­ing pretty good.” Es­pe­cially be­fore com­ing to a fash­ion shoot where I worked hard, you know, do­ing all the pos­ing. LB: Do­ing the pos­ing is hard. One of the many things I love about you is that—funnily enough, it’s the name of your next movie—you hus­tle. You work, you write, you buy houses … RW: I have a cloth­ing line and shoes com­ing too. LB: Where does all that drive come from? RW: I think it comes from not hav­ing much as a child and see­ing other peo­ple have stuff and just want­ing to be fi­nan­cially se­cure. I al­ways wanted to make some­thing of my­self. And, weirdly, I al­ways be­lieved I would be rich and suc­cess­ful even as a very young child, and I would say that to peo­ple. If you man­i­fest [what you want], I re­ally do think it comes true. It’s not so much about hav­ing money. I like do­ing good, char­i­ta­ble things. But it is also nice when you don’t have much. Like the first time I came to Paris, for ex­am­ple, I was on a Con­tiki tour, which was about 1,200 bucks for a month. You only got the food that was on the tour. I broke the bank when I bought some Pringles from a gas sta­tion. I put the trip on a credit card. LB: Those heady days. RW: I had to work off that debt at a sun­glasses store and the cin­e­mas and do­ing all sorts of jobs. When you look back on stuff like that, you’re like, “Whoa, I’ve re­ally come a mas­sive way.” The dif­fer­ence now is huge—stay­ing in a suite at the Ritz, go­ing to what­ever restau­rant I want, and hav­ing lovely driv­ers take you around so you don’t have to walk around to see the sights. LB: Do you ever worry about los­ing this life that you worked so hard to cre­ate? RW: No, be­cause I feel like I’m only go­ing to get more suc­cess­ful. That’s up to me. I’m go­ing to get into more di­verse act­ing roles be­cause peo­ple haven’t seen the ex­tent of my tal­ent. I love the roles I play, but, ob­vi­ously, I can do a lot more. I feel the same with all my busi­nesses too. LB: Do you ever feel like you’re ex­pected to amuse peo­ple? RW: Yeah. Peo­ple are shocked that in real life I’m quite sen­si­ble and kind of con­ser­va­tive. They find that strange be­cause when they see me in the movies, I’m like a joke a minute. I ac­tu­ally don’t think I’m very funny in real life, but, of course, it’s a part of me. If I acted that way in pub­lic, I would be a lu­natic. LB: What’s it like dat­ing and such? RW: Peo­ple get very in­tim­i­dated, which is weird, the idea that I would be in­tim­i­dat­ing to any­one. But it hap­pens all the time, to the point that some­one I re­ally liked was so in­tim­i­dated and got a lot of anx­i­ety and couldn’t have a re­la­tion­ship with me be­cause I’m in the pub­lic eye. They didn’t want that, so that kind of sucked. If some­one thinks they’re on a date with Fat Amy, that’s not go­ing to hap­pen. Sorry, I can be al­most as much fun, but I’m not like that in real life. LB: What are you am­bi­tious for? RW: I’d like more power in the work that I do. With com­edy, I’m very par­tic­u­lar, and some­times it phys­i­cally pains me to see some­thing al­tered with­out telling me.

“But I am re­ally proud, and, you know, I didn’t have to sleep my way to the top.”

LB: Whose ca­reer do you ad­mire? RW: I like Donna Lan­g­ley, who runs Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios. I think that’s awe­some. Also, I have this weird feel­ing that I might go into pol­i­tics in Aus­tralia. LB: Tell me about that. You have been fight­ing for your rights very publicly with the Aus­tralian tabloid me­dia. [In 2016 Wil­son sued Ger­many’s Bauer Me­dia for defama­tion af­ter ar­ti­cles were pub­lished in The Aus­tralian Women’s Weekly and Wo­man’s Day al­leg­ing that she lied in in­ter­views. She won the case and was ul­ti­mately awarded $600,000 Aus­tralian.] RW: I know. I like fight­ing against in­jus­tice. Even though there are plenty of in­jus­tices and my defama­tion case was not the big­gest, it’s an ex­am­ple of Aus­tralian cul­ture try­ing to tear down suc­cess­ful Aus­tralians. I think that is the op­po­site of what we should be striv­ing for. Any­one who has made a suc­cess of them­selves out of Aus­tralia, if they rep­re­sent their coun­try well, they should not be torn down. That kind of cul­tural thing, tall poppy syn­drome, is just very neg­a­tive and toxic. One thing I’ve al­ways re­ally liked about Amer­ica is that it cel­e­brates suc­cess, which I thought was a very pos­i­tive cul­tural at­tribute. LB: So what would your po­lit­i­cal plat­form be? RW: I want to help peo­ple, and part of my case [in Aus­tralia] was stand­ing up to a big, bul­ly­ing me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tion. When I see other peo­ple need­ing to stand up for them­selves, I like to in­spire them or help them with the le­gal knowl­edge I have. And, God, as a wo­man, you need to stand up for your­self in so many ways. It’s im­por­tant, and I think some peo­ple do find in­spi­ra­tion from me and my life. My mother was a pub­lic-school teacher. I have a sis­ter who is a nurse, and I’m real big into mil­i­tary—i shouldn’t say just mil­i­tary dudes. [ laughs] I’m into good ed­u­ca­tion for peo­ple. Through the School [of St Jude] in Tan­za­nia, I have been help­ing to lift kids out of poverty through ed­u­ca­tion. The health-care sys­tem is re­ally im­por­tant. Those are the po­lit­i­cal plat­forms I nat­u­rally would have be­cause of my back­ground, so I do think when I am done with Hol­ly­wood, that’s what will hap­pen. LB: You could go Sch­warzeneg­ger. Ex­cept do it in Aus­tralia. RW: Yeah, but I feel like I’m more qual­i­fied. I have the top law de­gree from the Univer­sity of New South Wales. LB: Do you of­ten give le­gal ad­vice to your friends? RW: Yes, I’m help­ful at busi­ness and ca­reer strat­egy. I’m prob­a­bly too quick to give ad­vice, but I think I’m good at think­ing strate­gi­cally through a cer­tain is­sue. I wouldn’t have got­ten to where I am if I didn’t think like that. Like, how do you come to Hol­ly­wood and there are five mil­lion ac­tors—some ridicu­lous statis­tic—and ac­tu­ally get a job? You have to think around it. [When I got there] I was like, “You know what? I’m go­ing to go into com­edy be­cause girls who look like me, it’s eas­ier to get laughs. I’ll spe­cial­ize in com­edy, and I’ll have a back­ground in all ar­eas of com­edy so by the time I come to Amer­ica, I’ll be ready.” LB: It’s fas­ci­nat­ing, a le­gal ap­proach to a com­edy ca­reer. RW: I want to write a book about how I went from be­ing very un­pop­u­lar to very pop­u­lar in high school. There are a lot of in­ter­est­ing lessons in how I turned my life around, and I think it might be help­ful to teenagers. I was so shy and so­cially awk­ward, and I was lucky to change that. LB: Did you have that sem­i­nal mo­ment that gave you con­fi­dence? RW: You can get a lot of con­fi­dence through creative arts, and that’s def­i­nitely why I was forced into it in the first place. It was a way of ex­pres­sion, not be­cause I wanted to be fa­mous or wanted to be some­body else. LB: Just to be the max­i­mum, ul­ti­mate you. RW: Also, in high school mu­si­cals I was never cast as the lead, and then last week, when I was on set for Cats, I was like, “I’m in moth­erf—ing Cats! I’m singing for An­drew Lloyd Web­ber!” LB: That’s wild. What are the things you re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate now that you’re well known? RW: Well, I’m very Aus­tralian in that when­ever I’m at the sports games or award shows, I al­ways want to get pho­tos with peo­ple. LB: Like who? RW: I got [a photo with] Le­bron [James]. I was at a Taylor Swift con­cert, and we saw Jared Goff, who’s the quar­ter­back for the [Los An­ge­les] Rams, and I’m like, “Hey.” I do get fan girl quite a bit, which is em­bar­rass­ing. I should stop do­ing it, but I get ex­cited to meet cer­tain peo­ple. When I get to do VIP stuff, I al­ways get ex­cited about it. LB: And when you walk into the Ritz ho­tel in Paris with peo­ple go­ing, “Bon­jour, Madame Wil­son,” it’s so good. RW: Yes, and they keep giv­ing me cakes … and I keep eat­ing them! n

“In high school mu­si­cals I was never cast as the lead, and then last week, when I was on set for Cats, I was like, ‘I’m in moth­erf—ing Cats!’ ”

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