The stunning transformation of Rebel Wilson

Rebel Wilson may be best known as Pitch Perfect's scene-stealing Fat Amy to much of the world, but she has been rocking her uniquely infectious Rebeliciousness since way back. She's as confident as she is funny, as daring as she is down to earth, and as raucous as she is earnest. And as she deadpans brilliantly with just the slightest flicker of a smile, she's decidedly won over the hearts of fans worldwide.

But while she may be jet-setting to Ibiza and cherry-picking her projects in Hollywood these days, her road to success hasn't always been a smooth one. There was the cancelled show, there were the doubters, there was that one relationship that didn't last... But as one of the hardest-working triple-threat performers in show business, Rebel Wilson proves that nothing's gonna slow her down. Let's let Wilson set the tone, as we dive into this fierce Aussie's stunning transformation.

Rebel Wilson was a shy little girl

Born on March 2, 1980 in Sydney, Australia — "The western side, the ghetto side," she jokes — Rebel Wilson grew up with siblings Liberty, Annachi, and Ryot, in the loving care of her professional Beagle-breeder parents. As perhaps the first inklings of humor sparked inside her, on the outside, the budding starlet was anything but precocious. "I was so unusually shy, bordering on a social disorder. So my mum — one day she drives me to this community acting class. I was holding on to the car door and crying. She had to peel me off the car. She's like, 'I'll pick you up in two hours,' and she left me," Wilson recalled in Marie Claire.

But does she have her family genes to thank for her comedic chops? Maybe. "My family reckons I'm like, not funny at all. They think they're all funnier. And I'm like, 'What professional comedy have you done?'" she laughed, in an interview with Image.

Rebel Wilson came out of her shell

That once-timid little girl developed her signature wicked Rebel Wilson confidence early. According to Flare, Wilson was concerned with developing her personality as a kid. "After reading that one's character becomes set in stone at age 15, the formerly shy Wilson decided she'd better 'get a personality' before it was too late, so she pushed herself to join debate clubs, to speak up more," the publication noted in February 2016.

"I was socially awkward... in high school, but [my high school drama teacher] Mrs. Bowmaker encouraged me to enter Tournament of Minds, [an Aussie creative competition] featuring different segments like performing and improvising. I came out of my shell, and if it weren't for her, I don't think I'd be where I am," Wilson told Glamour. According to Rebel Wilson, she had just barely made her "character building deadline," at the age of 14.

Rebel Wilson, teen feminist

"I went to an all-girls [Christian] high school and we were very much encouraged to, like, go after the career that you want, and, go out into the world and pursue what you wanna do and live your dreams," Rebel Wilson shared in a 2016 interview with Flare. She continued, "I feel lucky that I'm living in a time when girls can do that, and you can be single and have, like an awesome life."

Of her early aspirations to chase her dreams, Wilson continued in the article, "I think the saddest thing in the world is when you see a woman who is really smart and a go-getter and then she gets married too young or has kids too young and doesn't really fulfill her dreams." Her own greatest success story, Wilson was about to become a household name.

Rebel Wilson had a fevered glimpse of the future

In 1997 at age 17, Rebel Wilson spent a year working for Australia's Rotary International Youth Ambassador Program. It would be during one of the organization's trips to South Africa that she would contract malaria, then hallucinate in a fever-dream about winning an Oscar, USA Today reported. That was when the acting bug also bit her.

When she returned home, Wilson attended University of New South Wales as well as the Australian Theater for Young People, where she would find her footing on the stage. But she wasn't aiming for comedy, at first. She shared her initial frustrations with The New York Times"I thought I was playing a serious [stage] role, but then I came on and people just started laughing," she said. "I got visibly quite angry that people were laughing at me. And then people would laugh more...I thought, fat is funny, in a weird way. Or even in a scientific way. People find it easier to laugh at bigger girls. And I thought, that's going to be my game plan." That game plan would become her lucky calling card in Hollywood.

Rebel Wilson jumped across the pond

"Actors who normally come from Australia to America, are usually dramatic," Rebel Wilson said, in an interview with HungerTV. "I think I'm one of the first comedy actors from Australia, to come bring my own style here. So that's a bit different." Having already found success at home with breakout roles in Pizza (2000) and Bogan Pride (2008), the Aussie moved to West Hollywood in 2010 at 30 years old — the cards stacked against her in more ways than one. According to InStyle, she said, "No one thought I would be a feature film actress crushing it around the world, but I beat the odds and have achieved so much."

In the years since dominating Hollywood, Wilson may have made a home in the U.S., but she hasn't opted to become a citizen. Joking on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, she acknowledged, "I mean, I think I would be [a good candidate] cuz I'm really good at eating hot dogs... really good at like, going to theme parks, like, doing all the American stuff." But her status doesn't stop her from putting in her two cents. In 2015, she tweeted, "I don't like getting political but America you really have to follow Australia's example [regarding] gun laws."

Rebel Wilson broke into Hollywood

"Being unique and different was a really good thing," Rebel Wilson shared with Cosmopolitan. "When I walked into my agent's office for the first time, they looked at me and said, 'Wow, we have nobody on our books like you.' And they signed me on my second day [in the U.S.]."

Just after jumping on board with talent house William Morris Endeavor in 2010, the 30-year-old Australian transplant took a turn in her breakout role: Kristen Wiig's roommate Brynn in the 2011 comedy Bridesmaids. Refreshingly atypical of a rising Hollywood star, Wilson told the magazine, "I wouldn't ever want to compete with what I call 'the glamours' — the really gorgeous people. I'm about the brain, the heart and what's on the inside. I feel really lucky to be the body type I am." All of America was just about to discover who she really was.

Rebel Wilson overhauled her diet... kinda

"Normally I'm the girl who doesn't give a s*** what she looks like," Rebel Wilson claimed, "But because I'm in the public eye I have to try a little bit." A seven-year SoCal resident at the time, the comedy queen affirmed, "Living in LA you learn a lot about health. I now drink green juices and I'm trying to do gluten-free. But I don't do it 100 percent — I'm not a maniac!" She continued, "I love me some ice cream or dessert, and it comes at times when I'm happy or sad. So when I have an incredibly successful day, I want to celebrate and reward myself with food. If I've had a sad or stressful day, food is also comfort." A substantial transformation, compared to the "trashy frozen pizzas" of her youth.

While she has portrayed a raging party girl on screen, her real life is flecked with speculation about her weight. Reports of "flaunting her weight loss" seem to pop up daily. But Wilson isn't focused on some elusive perfect body. She's got her eyes set on her goals. "The odds of an Australian girl making it in Hollywood is, like, one in 25 million," Wilson calculated. "I'm lucky...But I also think I worked hard. I deserve it."

Rebel Wilson's whirlwind romance

Admittedly private about her personal life, then-35-year-old Rebel Wilson's fans were abuzz when she posted now-deleted selfies of her main squeeze, filmmaker Mickey Gooch Jr., confirming the two were an item in May of 2015. "Rebel Wilson is off the market, Bella B***hes," Us Weekly declared, reporting that the pair were spotted in LA, NYC, and Ibiza.

But the couple split just four months later, just as Gooch was shooting scenes for Wilson's How To Be Single (2016) — where he would play her date. But Wilson wasn't looking for a rebound. She shared in Cosmopolitan, "I'm very independent and have been single for most of my life. I see people who are very co-dependent and I think they're missing out on life. My mum really sacrificed her life when she started having us kids, and so she always encouraged us to go out there and chase after our dreams and live our lives." She continued, "I'm hoping the right guy will come along. But if it doesn't happen I'm alright. I'm a very independent lady and I've got my own stuff going on." Like, a lot of stuff.

Rebel Wilson developed a clothing line and had an ego boost

"I'm currently like a size 18, sometimes a 16 depending on how good I've been, so I'm kind of just a bit too big for most regular clothing," Rebel Wilson shared with People. In November 2015, Wilson, at 35, launched a collab with plus-size brand Torrid, bringing fans and fashionistas alike a taste of her signature style. Initially unsure of her prospects, Wilson told E! News, "I didn't think I'd be able to design clothes. I thought, 'That's not in my repertoire.'"

But it was. Finally comfortable in her own duds, she's got a lot more than just great style in mind for her line. Sharing her inspiration with InStyle, she said, "I want people to be a rebel in their own lives. I've always been a non-conformist. That's actually what my high school principal wrote in my final school report. I never just accepted things as they were, especially if they were unfair. I want this energy to rub off on other people and encourage girls and women out there to go out and crush it in their lives."

Rebel Wilson became truly famous

"That's life now," Rebel Wilson says, "You can spend time with family or friends in a very low-key situation, or you can be on a private jet flying somewhere to introduce Miley Cyrus." But she's still the same woman behind that lifestyle upgrade. "Even though, yes, now I am in movies or whatever, I am still that [dorky] girl. People think you're really confident because you're an actress or whatever, but I'm like the worst," she dished to Cosmopolitan. Wilson reminisced about having been working at an Australian movie theater when her first movie, Fat Pizza, opened in 2003, when she was 23 years old. She told Seth Meyers, "When people were leaving the cinema, I'd be there holding the trash bag... And they'd be like 'Hey, like, weren't you in that movie?,' and I'd be like 'yeah'... A week later I had to quit."

But while Wilson may be a mega-star, she hasn't forgotten her roots. She supports a Tanzanian school in Africa where she once lived as a youth ambassador, as well as finances scholarships for the Australian Theater for Young People that gave her that initial start. Having earlier been awarded a Nicole Kidman-funded scholarship to Chicago's Second City, Wilson's making the most out of paying it forward.

Rebel Wilson is not about nudity

A successful star who's made a career out of her figure, Rebel Wilson's got a strict policy when it comes to on-screen nudity. "[Filming The Brothers Grimsby] They wanted full-frontal nudity. We write in the contract, specifically, 'No nudity.' They got in another girl — this larger burlesque dancer from South Africa — to be a nude double. And they got her to do all this stuff. [Sacha Baron Cohen] would go, 'See, she looks good.' I'm like, I'm not doing it. I don't care what you say," Wilson, then 35, shared in an interview with Marie Claire. "You want to know that the people [behind the camera] have a certain sensibility and decency. And a lot of times in comedy they're not those people."

While she admits to having gained weight to land funnier roles — "I saw my size as being an advantage, whereas so many women see it as a disadvantage" — her real genius lies in her sense of humor. Chin-up against the pressures of Hollywood, she told Marie Claire, "I've always tried to use my brain to get places." Judging by her daunting resume, she already has.

Rebel Wilson's got her nose to the grindstone

On the cusp of the second installment of her successful Pitch Perfect franchise in 2015, the native Aussie revealed just what she does to prep for a decidedly American role. "I want, like, a real, genuine American accent, so I watch shows like Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, I've been watching a lot of Honey Boo Boo. I do, actually, watch them, and just like repeat them when they talk," Rebel Wilson shared on Conan.

But she doesn't stop there, prepping for her busy schedule. "I got a personal trainer," she admitted. "I'm not doing it to look great or whatever but to have the energy to do all that [producing and acting] work. People wouldn't think it looking at me, but I can exercise!" Although she may rock more curves than most of Hollywood's A-list, she's all about keeping her body in top condition. She told Elle UK, "You need to be physically strong for this job. I like to have the stamina to work 16 hours a day. I may eat a lot, but I am very healthy." 

She even did all her own aerial stunts for Pitch Perfect 2, overcoming her acrophobia. In an article in the Los Angeles Times, she said, "I stretched every day to be able to do [the stunts]. I'm afraid of heights, so...I told them, 'I'll do it three times. I'll crush it, so turn all your cameras on.' And I nailed it."

Rebel Wilson has her pride

Rebel Wilson took some heat for passing on presenting a 2015 MTV VMA award with Kendall and Kylie Jenner. She told Australia's KIIS FM, "I got asked to present with Kendall and Kylie at the recent VMAs and said 'no.' It's not that you hate any of them individually, but it's just that everything they stand for is against everything I stand for. And they're not famous for talent. I worked really hard to get where I've gotten to."

Considering Wilson holds a law degree, and used those skills early in her career to negotiate performance contracts, as well as having won multiple honors including several MTV Movie Awards, Glamour's International Woman of the Year, and LA's Australians in Film Award, it's no wonder Wilson put up a fight. She told the radio station hosts, "I mean... Kim Kardashian got famous from the sex tape and I just went to acting school and worked really hard." Wilson would go on to present the award solo, proving that if you ask for what you want, when you're Wilson, you get it.

Rebel Wilson was happy living that single life

While most of her childhood gal-pals, and even her sister, have gotten married, even a successful actress like Rebel Wilson has to put up with those pesky relationship status questions. But she told Flare in 2016, "Interestingly enough, I caught up with some of my girlfriends from high school when I was back in Australia ... and a lot of them weren't very happy with their situations and were envious of mine. I'm definitely not lonely in any way. I love being by myself."

While she'll happily vacay solo at her every whim, she is a bit wistful about things changing in the future. She shared in the magazine, "I don't think I'll be getting anything this Valentine's Day. But there was a line in this movie The Diary of a Teenage Girl where the main character goes, 'I wonder if anybody loves me who I don't know about,' and I was like, 'That's interesting: you never know.' On Valentine's Day you could get sent something."

Rebel Wilson, the boss lady in the boys' club

"I feel really lucky to be a woman in Hollywood doing comedy right now," Rebel Wilson shared. "Now that more writers are getting a chance to create these scripts, it's just more edgy. Girls [are often] relegated to just being the love interest in a guys' movie... which is a waste." For years, the bombshell gleaned inspiration from legendary comediennes. "As a teenager I'd put Ab Fab on instead of working. Jennifer Saunders was the first woman I ever saw on TV who wrote and performed her own material," she told Marie Claire.

While she is currently pulling a Saunders and creating her own projects, she admits that being a woman in a male-dominated industry is an uphill battle. "I do two types of [jobs],"  she told Elle. "Dream jobs like female-driven comedies and the other job, which is basically the boys' club...but you have to find a way to work that system. You aren't being paid much... you don't have any cool jokes and you're there to support the male actor. If you are a woman in that situation you work harder, sharpen your skills more; you need to be two or three times as good as the guys. I just go in there and try and crush it."

Rebel Wilson's gonna keep hustling

Before Pitch Perfect 3 released in 2017, Rebel Wilson was already excited about creating even more female-driven projects in the future. And the powerhouse might even try on some feature-length dramas, telling Glamour, "I've started to get offers for more serious roles and when I trained as an actor you don't just train in comedy, of course. Someone who I really admire is Robin Williams, who is such a genius comedian but when he did dramatic roles they were such good dramatic turns, so yes, I'm sure there's something around the corner."

Whatever acting projects that Rebel Wilson takes on in the future, we bet they're sure to have Wilson's signature stamp all over it. With her genuine confidence, that wicked sense of humor, and a one-of-a-kind, saucy personality, Wilson's bringing all of us along for the ride of a lifetime as she continues to find success in Hollywood.

Rebel Wilson decided she needed to "class it up a bit"

Before Rebel Wilson was a big-time Hollywood celeb, she never fussed too much about what she wore. Part of that was due to the fact that she didn't really have to, given the work that she was doing. "I never got anywhere because of my looks," she confessed in an interview with InStyle. "I got places because I had a good brain and a good imagination. Only since moving to the States was I like, 'People pay attention to what I wear. I should try to class it up a little bit.'"

Wilson also comes from a family who never spent too much time building their wardrobes or focusing on beauty, which rubbed off on her as well. "I didn't even get my nails done until I was 25," she admitted. "It took my best friend Nick looking at my feet one day and going, 'You should maybe do something about your nails,' for me to realize that I should go to a nail salon. Now I'm obsessed with going."

Rebel Wilson stood up for herself against an Australian media company

Dealing with the tabloids and the paparazzi is par for the course for famous celebs in America. But when the German company Bauer Media published articles in Women's Day that accused Rebel Wilson of lying about her name, childhood, and age, the actress decided to fight back.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Wilson sued the media company for defamation in 2017, saying that their articles had done damage to her reputation and had caused her to miss out on lucrative roles. She won the lawsuit and was awarded $3.6 million in damages. However, on appeal, her payout was reduced to $436,000, as the ruling said there was insufficient evidence that she lost major roles because of the information in the articles.

At the end of it all, Wilson's takeaway was positive, as her point had been made. "I have been determined to stand up to a bully and I am proud of myself for doing so," she wrote in a tweet, adding, "I am proud of this victory and all of the hard fight!"

Rebel Wilson was proud to be a plus-sized woman playing the lead in a rom-com

The year 2019 was another banner one for Rebel Wilson, as she starred in the rom-com fantasy Isn't It Romantic, along with Liam Hemsworth and Adam Devine. "I'm kind of proud to be the first-ever plus-sized girl to be the star of a romantic comedy," she proclaimed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. And while she misspoke — both Queen Latifah and Mo'Nique have helmed rom-com films in the past, according to Vulture — there's certainly a dearth of roles for larger women in romantic comedy films. So it's still something to celebrate!

In addition to starring in Isn't It Romantic, Wilson also claimed her first-ever producer credit, as she was one of the film's executive producers. "I've kind of got the bug for it now," she revealed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Clearly she does, as she went on to produce the next film that she starred in, The Hustle

Rebel Wilson always knew she'd be rich one day

If there's one thing about Rebel Wilson that hasn't changed over the years, in spite of her extraordinary success, it's her work ethic. On top of her acting career and producing ventures, she's also released a line of clothing and shoes, and she has the drive to keep doing more. "I think it comes from not having much as a child and seeing other people have stuff and just wanting to be financially secure," she explained in an interview with InStyle. "I always wanted to make something of myself." She's certainly done that in spades!

Even though Wilson wasn't born with a silver spoon in her mouth, she always aspired to rise to the top of the food chain. "Weirdly, I always believed I would be rich and successful even as a very young child, and I would say that to people," she added. "If you manifest [what you want], I really do think it comes true."

Rebel Wilson was thrilled to join the cast of Cats

While Rebel Wilson's work ethic has remained solid over the years, one thing that has evolved is her confidence, which has grown a lot. Much of that is due to the fact that Wilson has continually nurtured her creativity, which helped her find her voice. "You can get a lot of confidence through creative arts, and that's definitely why I was forced into it in the first place," she shared in a chat with InStyle. "It was a way of expression, not because I wanted to be famous or wanted to be somebody else."

But, of course, getting famous certainly has its perks, something Wilson celebrated when she was cast in the 2019 film Cats. "Also, in high school musicals I was never cast as the lead, and then last week, when I was on set for Cats, I was like, 'I'm in motherf***ing Cats! I'm singing for Andrew Lloyd Webber!" she gushed.

Rebel Wilson declared that 2020 would be the "year of health"

Over the years, Rebel Wilson has been a fierce advocate for body positivity, especially for plus-size women. She knows she's a role model for large women, too, something she takes very seriously. "There's a lot of pressure on women, especially younger women, to conform to the thin body image," she told the Associated Press. "Not everyone can be that way and no one should be ashamed of how they look or suffer bullying and other forms of abuse because of their size and shape."

That doesn't mean that Wilson is wedded to her specific size, however, as she revealed a slimmer body on social media in 2020, along with a promise to get healthier. "Okay so for me 2020 is going to be called 'The Year of Health,'" she proclaimed on Instagram. "So I put on the athleisure and went out for a walk, deliberately hydrating on the couch right now and trying to avoid the sugar and junk food which is going to be hard after the holidays I've just had but I'm going to do it!"