Olivia Wilde dressed in black to support her new show, The Black Donnellys. With a Bella Freud T-shirt and black jeans tucked into black boots, she even had her hair dyed brunette for the role. She plays Jenny Reilly, a childhood friend of the title family and potential love interest for the main character, Tommy (Jonathan Tucker). The Donnelly boys can't seem to stay out of trouble. The Irish family drama was inspired by series co-creator Bobby Moresco's life, and is produced by Moresco and collaborator, Oscar-winner Paul Haggis.
Wilde may be hitherto best known for her season two arc on The O.C. Having only begun professional acting in 2003, she has already appeared in several films, including Turistas and Alpha Dog. The Black Donnellys would be her biggest leading role should it continue into next season.
Hollywood.com: How much do you relate to this character?
Olivia Wilde: I'm so, so different from Jenny if you look at my upbringing and where I come from, but in the end, she's very tough and independent and that's something that I feel like I am. And I feel like as she develops, I realize how much I actually am a lot like her and I think that really helped in getting the role. I was so shocked when I actually got the role because this girl seemed to be so different from me so it's been amazing to realize how much I actually share with her.
HW: What are those things you share?
OW: Well, like I said, independence. A certain strength if I can give myself that credit, just a kind of toughness. And she's always sort of taking on other people's responsibilities and sometimes that gets her into trouble. I wouldn't call myself, I'm not as good as Jenny. She's really a better person than I am but I think some of those qualities I really found that I shared with her. She's just very different. She doesn't do anything because she feels that she's expected to do them. She's sort of odd in a way. She's kind of an odd duck and I really love that about her.
HW: What's more fun, blonde or brunette?
OW: You know what? I'm actually a blonde but I really enjoy being a brunette. I feel like people treat me how I feel I should be treated. When I was blonde, people always seemed sort of surprised that I wasn't stupid or vapid. Now they sort of don't have that element of surprise when they start talking to me. I think it's a silly cliché that exists and I know lots of brilliant blondes, but I definitely feel a difference in the way people treat me now.
HW: Was it tough to decide to do another series?
OW: It was. I hadn't intended on it. Then I got this script and I actually initially didn't even see it as a pilot. It didn't read as a pilot, it felt like a film with a sort of cut off ending. But I was so moved by it and I thought, "Oh no, I have to do this. There's no way out of it. I have to do it." And even though everyone said, "Well, do you really want to get back into television? The grueling schedule and being locked in for a certain amount of time." The material was too good to pass up. I hadn't read a film script that good in a long time. In the end, you have to choose things based on material so that's what it was for me.
HW: What kind of neighborhood did you grow up in?
OW: Oh, I was raised by journalists so maybe you all can imagine what that was like. Both my parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, everyone, cousins. So I was raised in a very literary kind of environment with a lot of interesting people but a strong sense of family. My dad's actually Irish so I grew up going back and forth to Ireland so I sort of understand that culture and it helps with this show. I was very different from Jenny but same strong family element.
HW: Where was that?
OW: I grew up in D.C. I was born in New York and then moved to D.C. when I was very young.
HW: What are the most fun things to do in Ireland?
OW: Oh my God, go out drinking. No, I don't know. Ireland is so beautiful. It's amazing how different the American Irish community is from the Irish community. Through the show I've learned so much about the differences in their culture and it's so fascinating. I think that I have learned so much about how fun it is to be a part of the American Irish community which I really feel like we've been welcomed into by doing the show. Our crew is mostly American Irish Westies and they really helped with getting into the characters and they've really accepted us. That is a huge stamp of approval and an amazing feeling to be portraying this community that I knew nothing about and now really feel like I do and I'm welcomed into it and it helps.
HW: Why did you name yourself Wilde?
OW: It's an Anglo-Irish name which I wanted to kind of stay true to my roots and at the time when I thought about choosing a name, I was doing an Oscar Wilde play. I was doing Earnest and I was playing Gwendolyn. My mother said I had to pick something that would inspire me every time I looked at it and remind me why I'm doing what I'm doing. It's kind of a tradition in my family to pick pen names for writers and I always thought that was so cool that my grandfather did and my uncles had. I thought that was so interesting, if I were a writer I would probably do it too because it's kind of a fun alter ego.
HW: You're married in real life?
OW: Yeah, that's another thing I share with Jenny. We both got married very young but mine's turned out a little better than hers.
HW: How is it being so young and juggling it with career?
OW: Oh, it doesn't feel like juggling. I think it really helps with my career having a groundedness to my life and some sort of security really helps. He's not in the business, thank God. He's a documentarian and it's sort of the other side of the spectrum that keeps me very grounded. I think it really helps. He's very supportive thank God. I couldn't be with an actor so I don't know how he does it.
HW: Any thoughts about starting a family of your own?
OW: I'll definitely put that off for a while. I'm a total workaholic. I really enjoy being able to work as much as possible and eventually, definitely I would love to be able to do that but at this point, I'm still focused on work.
HW: The Black Donnellys seems so serious. Is there any levity on the set?
OW: I think it's really funny. I watched I think the first five and I was laughing the whole time. I think in any good tragedy, there's a certain amount of humor, especially being true to the Irish form. That's sort of how they deal with tragedy and they've had to deal with enough of it. And I think that they've done a brilliant job of that in the show. I think the guys have this sort of wonderful back and forth energy, kind of like an Entourage-y feeling between them. They all have their very specific identities and a great banter between them and I think they're hilarious. I think people will really love that and Jenny, unfortunately, has to deal with a lot of the emotional weight of the show. She's kind of the… Bobby always calls her the heart of the show and she's sort of having to be stable so the rest of them can be so messy in all their wheelings and dealings. But I love watching them work because I think they're actually hysterical.