A judge awarded Rebel Wilson $3.6 million ($4.5 million Australian) on Wednesday in a defamation case over articles the actress said cost her roles in movies.
A Supreme Court jury in Australia’s Victoria state decided in June that articles published by Bauer Media, publisher of Australian magazines Women’s Day, Australian Women’s Weekly and OK!, claiming she was a “serial liar” and had lied about her age, first name and upbringing in Sydney were defamatory.
According to the judgment, Wilson was awarded $522,000 ($650,000 Australian) in general damages and $3.1 million ($3.9 million Australian) in special damages for Wilson’s “opportunity for new screen roles lost by reason of the defendant’s publications.”
“Unless substantial damages are awarded there is a real risk that the public will not be convinced of the seriousness of the defamation, but will rather wrongly conclude that the articles were trivial or not that serious,” said Hon. Justice John Dixon. “The jury comprehensively rejected the defenses and only a substantial damages award can now vindicate the plaintiff.”
His honor added, “I am satisfied that Bauer Media so acted in its own corporate interests to secure improved circulation, or increased views/hits, in the expectation of higher profits. Bauer Media had, I infer, sufficient appreciation of the risk of reputational damage to the plaintiff and I am satisfied that it did not care whether the plaintiff suffered reputational damage as it pursued its own corporate interests. This recklessness as to the consequences of publication is a state of mind, a corporate motive or purpose that is relevant to the assessment of the degree of aggravation of the plaintiff’s damage.”
He also declared that the publications have had a long lasting and profound impact on Wilson, both physically and psychologically, and have caused the “Pitch Perfect” actress significant stress.
Wilson’s lawyer, Richard Leder, said outside court damages were about four times higher than the previous Australian record in a defamation case, according to the Associated Press. The Huffington Post reported that the previous record was $2.3 million Australian.
The damages were awarded based on the judge’s estimate that Wilson had lost out on on three lead or co-lead roles, each worth around $5.2 million ($6.2 million Australian).
Bauer Media said in a statement on its website that it was considering the judgment.
While representatives for Wilson have not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment, Wilson took to Twitter shortly after the judgment, saying she’s extremely grateful but the “case wasn’t about the money.” She added that she’s “looking forward to helping out some great Australian charities and supporting the Oz film industry with the damages I’ve received.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.