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Olivia Wilde Pt. 2

olivia-wilde-2009-espy-awards-2

‘Here’s my picture, what’s your MySpace address?’

“Exactly! ‘Want a house guest?’” She laughs.

Alright, so Wilde, who has a world-class smile, and peppers her speech with outbursts like “un-bee-lee-vable” and “cul-chah.” isn’t too self-serious, thank God. Because her background is the kind you’d expect for someone walking the halls of the Capitol or debating public policy on Sunday TV (neither of which would we rule out down the line) rather than staking a claim in Young Hollywood.

Born in New York City to globe-trotting journalists Leslie and Andrew Cockburn (pronounced Coh-burn), Olivia Jane grew up as an alternately rebellious or over-achieving middle child in the “musty brownstones” of Washington DC’s Georgetown. ‘Everything was about this old intellectual history,” she says, with family friends who were seemingly all controversial fellow scribes like Christopher Hitchens, Seymour Hersh and Gloria Emerson.

“It was pretty obvious from when I was very little that acting was my calling,” she says. “I was always very outgoing [and] existed in several different fantasy lands. Sometimes I wouldn’t be able to go to sleep at night because I would be creating little movies and plays and characters in my head.” Her mother (who had attended Yale Drama School with Sigourney Weaver and Meryl Streep) was happy to encourage her. “She said many people would tell me it was going to be impossible, and that I never ever could believe them. That came in handy a few…dozen times!”

While Olivia’s parents frequently took dangerous assignments around the globe (particularly Leslie, who was even five months pregnant with Olivia’s younger brother while covering the “Black Hawk Down” incident in Mogadishu), the tweener concerned herself with ballet recitals and competitive swimming –which would later help her perform most of her own underwater stunts in ‘Turistas’–at Georgetown Day School. She also attended cooking school during summers in Ireland, where the Cockburns maintain a home on the southeastern coast of County Waterford. “I belong somewhere trapped in a castle in the 14th century, in the rain, churning butter,” she jokes, “I’m very comfortable in that environment.” The skills learned there come in handy when she throws large dinner parties, but her love of food (she is a somewhat flexible vegetarian) has become politicized as well: “I’m really interested in how nutrition affects education and crime, especially in this country.”

Her family’s tradition for outspokenness, which also includes uncle Alexander Cockburn and other more distant relatives, goes back to her grandfather Claud Cockburn (who wrote as James Helvick), known in his home UK as an unrepentant socialist reporter and novelist. “There’s an amazing community of intellectuals in Ireland, and being a part of his family let me into that circle,” she says. “He was blacklisted, and I seem to have trouble keeping my mouth shut as well.”

Continued at Pt. 3

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–FF–

Copyright 2006 ECG

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