Rebel Wilson ordered to pay back $3 million plus interest

Hollywood actress Rebel Wilson vowed after the initial judgment to give any payout to charity and the Australian film industry. (AFP)
Updated 27 June 2018

Rebel Wilson ordered to pay back $3 million plus interest

SYDNEY: Hollywood actress Rebel Wilson was ordered to return almost $3.1 million with interest to an Australian publisher Wednesday after a defamation payout was slashed on appeal.
The “Pitch Perfect” star was awarded A$4.5 million ($3.3 million) in damages against Bauer Media last September over articles claiming she lied about her age and background to further her career.
It was the largest defamation win in Australian legal history and Bauer appealed, arguing the size of the settlement set a dangerous precedent and there were errors of law in the judgment.
The Victorian Court of Appeal agreed and cut the payout to just A$600,000 earlier this month in a decision the actress called “absolutely flippant.”
Bauer had already handed over the money and the Court of Appeal on Wednesday ordered Wilson to repay nearly A$4.2 million, including costs and more than A$60,000 in interest.
The star did not dispute that the money needed to be returned but argued the interest should be charged at the prevailing Reserve Bank cash rate of 1.5 percent, rather than the two percent sought by Bauer.
The appeal court disagreed and ordered interest be paid at the higher rate.
Wilson vowed after the initial judgment to give any payout to charity and the Australian film industry. It is not clear whether she has already done so.
She had claimed a series of articles in Woman’s Day, Australian Women’s Weekly and OK Magazine in 2015 had portrayed her as a serial liar and damaged her reputation.
The Sydney-born actress told the trial she was sacked from DreamWorks animated feature films “Trolls” and “Kung Fu Panda 3” following the stories.
But the Court of Appeal said there was no basis for her to receive financial damages for the potential loss of roles.
It found that the previous judge had relied on evidence from Wilson and two Hollywood agents to draw the conclusion that she had lost job opportunities.


From Syria to stardom: Zain Al-Rafeea sheds light on his Hollywood highlights

Zain Al-Rafeea spoke to Arab News about his role in ‘The Eternals.’ (File/AFP)
Updated 18 January 2020

From Syria to stardom: Zain Al-Rafeea sheds light on his Hollywood highlights

LOS ANGELES: A child is forced to leave home to escape a terrible fate. Growing up in a strange land, he develops a special talent and achieves greatness.

It is a familiar story that could describe the lives of a host of superheroes. But it also applies to refugee and actor Zain Al-Rafeea, and his courageous journey from Syria to stardom.

Al-Rafeea was born in 2004. His family fled the Syrian conflict when he was eight, moving to Lebanon, where they were forced to find shelter in the slums of Beirut.

“Unfortunately, refugees face harsh conditions in Lebanon because the country has so many of them,” Al-Rafeea told Arab News. “I never thought I would be an actor or a famous person. I just dreamt of being safe with my family and that nothing bad would happen to them. I was focusing on making money to support my parents.”

In late 2017, Al-Rafeea’s life was changed by a chance encounter with Jennifer Haddad, casting director and collaborator of acclaimed Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki.

“I was in the street with a group of friends. I saw Jennifer, and she asked me if I would like to act. My first reaction was like ‘OK, I have no problem with that.’ She took a video of me, sent it to Nadine and things went on from there.”

Labaki cast Al-Rafeea as the lead in her 2018 drama “Capernaum.” The film was a hit, and the young actor’s performance was lauded by both audiences and critics.

“I did not imagine in my wildest dreams that I have such an international success,” Al-Rafeea said. “I just thought of it as an acting experience, but things went in a much better direction.”

In November, it was announced that Al-Rafeea will join the cast of Marvel’s upcoming “The Eternals.” The film tells the story of a race of immortal aliens who lived on Earth in secret, and features A-list stars such as Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek.

“The introduction happened through Nadine. Directors and producers from Hollywood talked to her and she put us in touch,” Al-Rafeea said.

The actor met his fellow cast members on the Canary Islands during the early stages of filming. “They were nice and their welcome to me was very sweet,” he said. “They invited me for lunch and we chatted for hours, I felt so happy.

“When we finished the first day’s shooting, Salma Hayek came up and hugged me. That night she gave me an iPad and iPhone, and we chatted and listened to music together.”

The teenage star couldn’t reveal much about his role in “The Eternals,” only that he joins the alien heroes as a human who can speak a mysterious 7,000-year-old language.

Life in the Beirut slums is a thing of the past for the Al-Rafeea family. With their son’s success, they were able to relocate to Norway.

“It is a perfect country, the people are so calm, and there are no fights or even traffic. Having water and electricity all the time is a great thing.” While he is excited about his new home, Al-Rafeea has not forgotten his friends, family and the home he left behind in Syria.

“Work hard for nothing is impossible — look what happened to me,” Al-Rafeea said in a message to children facing situations like the one he endured. “Simply dream big.”

“The Eternals” is due to be released in the US on Nov. 6, 2020. A Middle Eastern premiere date is yet to be announced.