Olivia Wilde born Olivia Jane Cockburn; is an American actress and filmmaker.
Wilde was born in New York City and grew up in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., while spending summers at Ardmore in County Waterford, Ireland. Her parents were prominent in the Washington, D.C. social scene. She attended private school at Georgetown Day School, in Washington, D.C., and boarding school at Phillips Academy, in Andover, Massachusetts, graduating in 2002.
Wilde, who holds dual American and Irish citizenship, derived her stage name from Irish author Oscar Wilde. She changed her surname while in high school, to honor the writers in her family, many of whom used pen names. Wilde was accepted to Bard College but deferred her enrollment three times in order to pursue acting. She then studied at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin.
Her mother, Leslie Cockburn, is an American-born 60 Minutes producer and journalist. Her father, Andrew Cockburn, also a journalist, was born in London to a British family and raised in Ireland. For a short time, Wilde's family also had a house in Guilford, Vermont. Wilde has a sister five years older and a brother nine years younger.
Wilde has said that as a result of her parents' occupations, she has a "strong journalistic streak" and is "really critical and analytical." Wilde's uncles, Alexander and Patrick Cockburn, also worked as journalists; her aunt, Sarah Caudwell, was a writer; her half-cousins, Stephanie Flanders and Laura Flanders, are journalists; and her paternal grandfather, Claud Cockburn, was a novelist and journalist. Writer Christopher Hitchens served as her babysitter.
Wilde's ancestry includes English, Irish, German, Manx, and Scottish. Wilde's paternal Scottish ancestors were upper-class and lived in many locations at the height of the British Empire, including Peking (where her paternal grandfather was born), Calcutta, Bombay, Cairo, and Tasmania. A great-great-grandfather, Henry Arthur Blake, was governor of Hong Kong. Her other paternal ancestors include abolitionist and Anglican cleric James Ramsay; politician George Arbuthnot; lawyer, judge, and literary figure Henry Cockburn, Lord Cockburn; Lord Provost of Edinburgh William Arbuthnot; and Thomas Osborne.
Through her father's family, Wilde is related to George Cockburn, who was responsible for burning down Washington, D.C. during the War of 1812.