Comic Rebel Wilson fights appeal of her $3.6M defamation win
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rebel Wilson returned to court on Wednesday to fight a magazine publisher’s appeal of an order to pay the Australian actress a record 4.6 million Australian dollars ($3.6 million) in damages for defamation through articles that claimed she lied about her age, the origin of her first name and her upbringing in Sydney.
The 38-year-old comic, best known for the movies “Pitch Perfect” and “Bridesmaids,” sat with her mother Sue Bownds in a packed Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal in Melbourne but did not testify.
Bauer Media, which publishes Australian magazines Woman’s Day, Australian Women’s Weekly, NW and OK, argued that the largest defamation payout in Australia legal history awarded against the German company in September was “manifestly excessive.”
Bauer’s lawyer, Michael Wheelahan, said the publisher would not appeal the defamation verdict reached by a jury in July.
Bauer is challenging the finding that Wilson should be compensated for film roles, including “Trolls” and “Kung Fu Panda 3,” which she testified she had lost following the publications in 2015.
Wheelahan argued that Wilson’s career earnings had been on an upward trajectory in 2015 with a few “speed bumps” along the way, but there was no evidence that the articles had any influence.
He argued that Hollywood agent Peter Principato, an industry person “on the grapevine,” had not heard of the defamatory articles at the time.
Speaking outside court, Wilson said Hollywood had been well aware of her case.
Bauer “maliciously defamed me and I’m here to hold them accountable for that,” she said.
The hearing before three judges is to continue on Thursday.
Before the trial, Bauer rejected Wilson’s offer to settle the case for AU$200,000.