Rebel Wilson is cheering after winning a record A$4.5 million ($4.9 million) in defamation damages, but the judgment has also exposed startling detail about just how little she was paid when she first made the trip to Hollywood.

The Australian actor was awarded the highest defamation payout in the country's history yesterday after she successfully sued Bauer Media in the Victorian Supreme Court for a series of articles that painted her as a serial liar.

"Today was the end of a long and hard court battle against Bauer Media who viciously tried to take me down with a series of false articles," Wilson, 37, tweeted after the judgment.

Wilson, second from left, made US$165,000 ($227,878) in the first Pitch Perfect movie. Photo / Supplied
Wilson, second from left, made US$165,000 ($227,878) in the first Pitch Perfect movie. Photo / Supplied

But buried deep in Justice John Dixon's 136-page judgment is surprising evidence about the abysmal level of pay the Aussies funny woman received in her early Hollywood roles.
After making a name for herself in TV and theatre in Australia, Wilson moved to Los Angeles in late 2009.


Her breakout role came in mid-2010 when played Kristen Wiig's nightmare roommate in the monster hit Bridesmaids - for which she was paid a measly US$3000 ($4100).

While her role was admittedly small and her screen time minimal, the movie went on to gross US$288.4 million at the box office and was nominated for two Oscars.

You might think that Wilson went on to make millions for each of her subsequent big screen roles, but the judge's findings show that was far from the case. This how much she made for her next movie appearances:

  • Pitch Perfect: US$165,000 ($227,878)
  • Ice Age: Continental Drift: US$70,000 ($96,677)
  • What to Expect When You're Expecting: US$75,000 ($103,582)
  • Bachelorette: $US45,000 ($62,151)
  • Struck By Lightning: $US20,000 ($27,622)
  • Small Apartments: $US5000 ($6905)
Wilson celebrates her victory outside court. Photo / AAP
Wilson celebrates her victory outside court. Photo / AAP

Compare these figures to the A$200,000 ($220,600) she was paid to appear in one episode of the short-lived Australian Channel 7 game show The Big Music Quiz last year.

While the pay she made for these movie roles may seem small by Hollywood standards, she did go on to score big pay packets for her own sit com Super Fun Night in 2013-14 (about US$2 million) and the Pitch Perfect sequel in 2015 (US$4.1 million).

And she is set to be paid between $US5 million and $US6 million ($6.9 million-$8.3 million) for Pitch Perfect 3, due for release in December.

Add to that her A$4.5 million defamation payout from Bauer, and Wilson is now sitting pretty.

Justice Dixon said substantial damages were required to "vindicate" Wilson after her reputation as an "actor of integrity was wrongly damaged" in the articles published in Woman's Day, The Australian Women's Weekly, New Weekly and OK!


Wilson said on Twitter that the case "wasn't about the money".

"I'm looking forward to helping out some great Australian charities and supporting the Oz film industry with the damages I've received," she tweeted.

"Also looking forward to getting back to my career and entertaining everyone!"

Her lawyer Richard Leder said outside court the damages were about four times higher than the previous Australian record for a defamation case.

Bauer Media had branded that damage claim "extraordinarily large" and made on the "most tenuous of basis".

Bauer lawyer Georgina Schoff told the judge that Wilson had failed to prove the articles caused her financial losses.

Bauer failed to prove the articles published in 2015 were substantially true or that they were unlikely to harm her career.

The jury found Bauer had said Wilson lied about her age, claiming to be six years younger, and had falsely claimed to have been named Rebel at birth.

They also found Bauer had said Wilson lied about having a hallucination about winning an Academy Award while sick with malaria, about her parents being dog trainers, about being related to US entertainment entrepreneur Walt Disney and about being raised in a "ghetto" area of Sydney.

Wilson blamed the articles for film contracts being terminated.