Actress Olivia Wilde posted a lengthy Twitter thread Thursday defending herself against criticisms of her portrayal of real-life journalist Kathy Scruggs in the new movie, “Richard Jewell.”
Critics, including the newspaper where Scruggs worked, take issue with the film showing the reporter sleeping with an FBI agent, played by Jon Hamm, to get information on the investigation of Richard Jewell.
Jewell was a security guard who came under suspicion of orchestrating the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing before being exonerated.
Wilde said Thursday that she wanted to share her perspective on the role and clarify her previous comments, in which she said she thought it was a “basic misunderstanding of feminism as pious sexlessness.”
“Contrary to a swath of recent headlines, I do not believe that Kathy ‘traded sex for tips,’” Wilde tweeted. “Nothing in my research suggested she did so, and it was never my intention to suggest she had. That would be an appalling and misogynistic dismissal of the difficult work she did.”
Scruggs, who worked for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, died in 2001 at the age of 42. The paper has maintained that there is no evidence that Scruggs slept with anyone involved in the Jewell investigation.
The AJC has demanded that Warner Bros. and the filmmakers release a statement acknowledging they took dramatic license in their portrayal of the journalist.
“The perspective of the fictional dramatization of the story, as I understood it, was that Kathy, and the FBI agent who leaked false information to her, were in a pre-existing romantic relationship, not a transactional exchange of sex for information,” Wilde continued.
Wilde also said in her Twitter thread that Scruggs was at the center of the “brutal and unjust vilification” of Jewell and the film centers on the tragedy of the accusations against him.
Eric Rudolph, an American domestic terrorist, was later found to have been responsible for setting off the bomb that killed one person and injured 111 others. Jewell, a security guard at the park, helped to evacuate the area after the bomb was discovered.
Scruggs’ former friends and colleagues spoke about the journalist’s legacy at the AJC for an article in the newspaper entitled “The Ballad of Kathy Scruggs.” Scruggs’ former reporting partner Ron Martz, played by actor David Shae in the film, said no one from the film contacted him.
“If they had actually contacted me, it might have ruined their idea of what they wanted the story to be,” Martz told the AJC. “It’s obvious to me they did not go to any great lengths to find out what the real characters were like.”
He went on to say that Scruggs was “one of the better reporters I ever worked with.”
Associated Press contributed.
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