Hollywood star Rebel Wilson could potentially be paid out millions of dollars after a jury sided with her in a defamation trial against the publisher of Woman's Day.
An all-female six-person jury deliberated for two days over their verdict, in which they were asked to consider 40 questions about eight potentially defamatory magazine articles, before handing down their decision on Thursday afternoon.
The 37-year-old Pitch Perfect star was defamed by Bauer Media, publisher of Woman's Day, when they accused her of lying about her real name, age and childhood, the jury found.
The jury found that all eight articles made out that Wilson was a serial liar, that each article was substantially untrue, and that Wilson suffered serious harm because of their publication.
Justice John Dixon will now consider the degree of impact the defamation had on Wilson's career and rule on just how much she is awarded in damages.
In Victoria, damages for non-economic loss – pain and suffering – in a defamation suit are capped at nearly $400,000.
But special damages, including damages for loss of earnings, are uncapped.
Ms Wilson has claimed the defamatory articles led her to miss out on several lead roles, as well as being sacked from two films during production.
Lead roles in major Hollywood productions could be worth tens of millions of dollars, celebrity publicist Max Markson told Fairfax.
"She's up there with people like Tina Fey, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore," Markson said.
"Once you start headlining a movie it's not unusual to get $5 or $10 million per movie.
"The sort of money they are earning, annually, is tens of millions of dollars."
Ms Wilson appeared at every day of the three-week hearing, but nearly missed the jury's verdict after her car became stuck in traffic on the way to the courthouse. She eventually arrived mid-way through.
In the course of the the hearing Ms Wilson told the court she had been sacked from the films Kung Fu Panda 3 and Trolls in the wake of the articles.
But Bauer's lawyers unearthed documents that they said showed she may have been fired from Trolls before the articles were published.
Bauer claims no one would have thought less of Ms Wilson because of the articles the company's magazines published – and, regardless, they were largely true. That claim was comprehensively rejected by the jury.
Ms Wilson claimed she allowed mystery to swirl about her age – beneficial to her career, as she was often cast in roles much younger than she was – but said she never lied about it.
Speaking outside court Ms Wilson said the "unanimous" verdict has sent a huge message to magazine publishers and celebrity journalists.
"I was confident from the start," She said.
"This has definitely been a long and very hard fight. But I felt like I had to take a stand against a bully.
"Their conduct can only be described as disgraceful.
"I look forward to rebuilding my career. I am grateful it's all over."
"It's a win for everybody who gets maliciously taken down.
"You guys have probably heard of tall poppy syndrome. This happened to me. I didn't deserve it"
Ms Wilson says she will go out to dinner to celebrate the win.
She also revealed she had played tennis with Todd Woodbridge to ease the stress as she waited for the jury to return its verdict.
The all-singing, all-dancing trial was marked by a series of bizarre moments, including:
- Revelations Ms Wilson was a member of a secret celebrity-only Disneyland club
- Ms Wilson's mother insisting under cross-examination her family were bogans
- Ms Wilson tried to get Fairfax Media, publisher of The Age, to remove a photo that showed her "fang tooth"
- Ms Wilson being cross-examined over her belief she was related by marriage to Walt Disney
Just who is the real Rebel?
The first article published by Woman's Day, headlined 'Just who is the REAL Rebel?', claimed Ms Wilson's real name was Melanie Elizabeth Bownds and she was aged 36, not 29.
The article was based of a source cultivated by former Woman's Day journalist Shari Nementzik through Facebook.
The magazine paid the source just $2000 for the information.
Ms Nementzik was called to testify, and told the jury everyone knew that celebrity magazines used "chequebook journalism" to land scoops.
Ms Wilson told the court she strongly suspected who the source was: a former high-school classmate who had become jealous and obsessed with Ms Wilson's rise to fame.
The Giant Vanishing Pimple
Ms Wilson claimed the articles caused her so much stress and anxiety that she developed eczema and a huge sore between her nose and lip which she described as "exploding" and "oozing".
The sore was so big special effects teams on the movie she was filming, How To Be Single, couldn't work out how to remove it. Instead, she was cut from several scenes, she claimed.
But Bauer Media's barrister Georgina Schoff QC tendered a tweet, sent by Wilson days after the article was published.
Schoff: "Do you agree, Ms Wilson, that when you look at yourself in that photo you've got absolutely flawless skin?
Wilson: "Thank you for the nice compliment." (General laughter in the courtroom.)
Schoff: "The point is, Ms Wilson, there is no stress sore in that photograph."
Wilson: "You can't see anything hugely obvious in that photo, no."
Wilson, Wilson and Wilson
In a trial that became increasingly surreal, nothing was stranger than the tale of the three Wilsons.
While Rebel was suing Bauer, one of Bauer's employees, Elizabeth Wilson, was also suing her for defamation.
In February 2016 Rebel was told a journalist working for Bauer with the name Elizabeth Wilson had been harassing her grandmother for "dirt", she told the court.
Incensed, Rebel took to Twitter to attack her namesake.
Unfortunately there were two Elizabeth Wilsons working for Bauer, and Rebel had the wrong Wilson – this one worked for House & Garden magazine.
Rebel told the court Ms Wilson was demanding $250,000 in compensation for the inaccurate tweet, a tactic she labelled a "shakedown".