On many an occasion, Olivia Wilde's sleek hair (which alternated between blonde and coal black), sultry figure, and haunting blue eyes typecast her in the mold of an evil seductress and vamp. The N.Y.-born Wilde -- not a blood relation to the famous writer Oscar Wilde, as is commonly assumed, but one inspired by him, who borrowed his surname -- launched into show business with a portrayal of Jewel Goldman, the female lead of Jerry Bruckheimer's short-lived Fox drama Skin (2003). The series constituted an update of Romeo and Juliet and depicted the romance between a porn producer's daughter and a district attorney's son. It folded not long after it premiered, but provided a convenient showcase for Wilde's talents. After key roles in two drug-themed features -- the Nick Cassavetes-directed Alpha Dog and director John Herzfeld's Bobby Z -- Wilde catapulted sensationalism-hungry viewers to their television sets when she portrayed a lesbian bartender who attempts to seduce lovely Mischa Barton on The O.C. She then received regular billing as Jenny Reilly on The Black Donnellys (2007), an NBC series about the exploits of an Irish crime family residing in Hell's Kitchen, which didn't make it past its first season. Wilde rebounded quickly with a coveted role on the smash-hit Fox medical series House, joining the cast during the show's fourth season. She remained on the show for three seasons, and also built up a big-screen career with roles in Year One, Tron: Legacy, The Change-Up, Butter, Cowboys & Aliens, and People Like Us. Once leaving House, she largely focused on her film work, often alternating bigger budget films (like 2013's Rush) with smaller, independent films (like 2013's Drinking Buddies, which she also executive produced).
Biography by Nathan Southern
- Wanted to act since the age of 2. ("First," she told The New York Observer, "I wanted to be Einstein, then an actress.")
- Playwright Oscar Wilde inspired her stage surname; she once played Gwendolyn in a production of Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.
- Has dual citizenship, in both the U.S. and Ireland.
- Many of her family members are journalists, including her mother, Leslie, who served as a 60 Minutes producer, and father, Andrew, an author and documentarian.
- Wilde's dog, Paco, became Old Navy's mascot in 2006.
- Ranked No. 1 on Maxim's Hot 100 list in 2009.
- A board member of the ACLU and also a founder of Young Artists for Peace and Justice, which promotes education and health services in Haiti.
- Has an avid interest in classic cars.