Olivia Wilde is living the dream—literally. And right now the 26-year-old actress, who fantasized about a career in front of the cameras since she was a child, is aware of what she’s achieved every day she goes to work at Universal Studios to shoot her upcoming summer blockbuster Cowboys & Aliens—and not just because she’s working with A-listers Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig.
“I remember being 12 and going on the Universal tour, on the tram visiting sets and dreaming of one day working there,” says Wilde. “It would mean I had achieved my dream and my goal. It just seemed impossible. And now seeing the trams go by and little girls are on it who are probably a lot like me—it’s really very shocking!”
OLIVIA HITS THE BIG TIME
Hollywood’s simply gone wild for Wilde: After the actress drew attention in indie films and TV roles on The O.C. and as the mysterious medical intern “Thirteen” on House M.D. (aided by both roles’ saucy bisexual twists), she’s suddenly been catapulted into moviedom’s major leagues. First up is next month’s release of Tron: Legacy—opposite Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges—the 28-years-later sequel to the film that introduced computer-generated imagery to cinematic sci-fi.
"I wasn’t born when Tron came out,” she confesses, but after being cast early on she was sucked into the digital delights of the revived franchise when the production team deeply involved her in the development of her fearless video-game warrior character. “I really feel there is an ownership because of how involved I was from the beginning. So now I feel a true sense of pride that there’s so much buzz around it because I feel like it’s my baby.”
Next is a stint battling extraterrestrials in the Old West in director Jon Favreau’s hotly anticipated Cowboys & Aliens alongside Ford (“Arguably the hero of the 20th-century film world—but at the same time he’s just a really good, grounded human being”) and Craig (“A great actor who evolved into this icon, but without developing a chip on his shoulder about being the ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ or any of that bullshit”).
House M.D. rounds remain in her rotation (“I’ll be back this year,” she says. “They’ve been really supportive—but I hear they’re doing just fine without me!”), plus the ensemble quirkfest Butter (as a scheming stripper embroiled in the world of competitive butter-carving) and the body-switching romp The Change-Up, opposite Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds. “I handed the script to my husband and just heard him hysterically laughing for two hours, saying, ‘It’s brilliant. It’s genius. You have to do it!’” she laughs.
Said husband is documentary filmmaker and flamenco musician Tao Ruspoli, whose aristocratic Italian lineage provided Wilde with the real-life royal title “princess.” However, any jet-setting mostly involves zipping back and forth from their Venice (California, that is) home to be together during this insanely busy period, which hasn’t fazed the couple. “A little bit of independence in a relationship is a good thing,” she says. “I’m really lucky to be with someone who respects what I do and understands that it often takes me to far-off lands—like a circus freak.”
Wilde also remains committed to her hands-on involvement with rebuilding post-earthquake Haiti, a country she grew to love during childhood vacations. “I was able to go back with a purpose,” she says of her efforts through Artists for Peace and Justice, a nonprofit that builds schools to serve the most poverty-stricken areas of the country. “I fell in love with Haiti all over again. Of course I’m seeing a very different side, but it’s only strengthened my love and devotion to try to help in any way I can. We’re really proud to say our schools are providing a safe place for these kids to heal.”
So what’s left for a beautiful, happily married, volunteering, TV-starring, film-acting, royal-titled young woman to dream about accomplishing? Plenty, says Wilde. “When you realize you’ve achieved your dream, of course you’re never satisfied, and the dream always gets bigger,” she says, “but it does make you pause and feel very, very grateful.”
For video of our cover shoot with Olivia Wilde, click here.
ABOVE IMAGE: Dress ($3,600) and boots ($1,195), Chanel. 400 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills;chanel.com. Oval link necklace, David Yurman ($1,020). Traditional Jewelers, Fashion Island, 203 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach; traditionaljewelers.com. Rhinestone necklace, Givenchy ($995). Barneys New York, 9570 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; barneys.com. Resin and rhinestone ring, Alexis Bittar ($350). 8383 W. Third St., LA; alexisbittar.comBELOW: Dress, Celine ($1,875). Barneys New York, 9570 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; barneys.com. Hat, Albertus Swanepoel ($375). Barneys New York, 9570 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; barneys.com. RM 007 automatic watch, Richard Mille ($70,000). Westime Beverly Hills, 254 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills, westime.com