Olivia Wilde on her MoveOn.org get-out-the-vote video
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House star Olivia Wilde is easily one of Hollywood’s most in-demand actresses. This summer, she shot Cowboys & Aliens with Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, and this fall, when she’s not busy promoting the December release of Disney’s Tron: Legacy, she’s shooting the body-swapping comedy The Change-Up with Ryan Reynolds and the sci-fi thriller Now (formally I’m.Mortal) with Justin Timberlake. But she still found the time and nerve to shoot a pointed and imaginative get-out-the-vote video for the liberal political action group MoveOn.org, released yesterday.
Directed by Yaniv Raz, and written by MoveOn’s Laura Dawn and Onion News Network’s Michael Pielocik, the clip casts Wilde as an activist broadcasting from a dystopian future governed by “RepubliCorp” and a war-happy President Sarah Palin — all the result of voter apathy in 2010. Specifically, your apathy; your name, friends, and photos can be incorporated into the video via Facebook, giving the clip an eerily personal message. (You can also opt out of the personalization for a more generic version of the video.) This afternoon, Wilde took a break from shooting Now (which, coincidentally, is also about a dystopian future in which people don’t age past 25) to talk with EW about why she made the video, why she’s not afraid to be political, and what she thinks of what happened to a MoveOn protestor at last night’s Kentucky senatorial debate.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why did you want to make this video?
OLIVIA WILDE: I made one video project with MoveOn before, the health care video we did with FunnyOrDie. I’m a big fan of creative activism. MoveOn is very good at that. Their creative director Laura Dawn and I became friends around the  presidential election. I was just really attracted to her ideas for bringing together creativity and politics in an interesting and active way. Actors want to help, artists of all kinds want to help, but just us standing there telling you to vote is not really effective, it’s not really useful, and it’s not really our place. I mean, it’s anyone’s place to tell you to vote; of course you should vote. But I do think if you can use artists’ skills to help with that message, you should. I’m very concerned that people won’t make the time to vote. Traditionally mid-terms elections are not popular, particularly among younger voters. This seemed like the most effective way I could help people go out and vote.
So how did this particular video come together?
Laura Dawn e-mailed me the script when I was Santa Fe shooting [the 2011 summer film] Cowboys & Aliens, and I wrote back in a second saying, “This is brilliant. I have to be a part of it.” She said we can only shoot on this particular day. We moved flight schedules around and we made it work so that all the necessary creative people could meet in L.A., and we shot it in about 10 hours. It was fun and challenging and I’m really proud of the result.
What was the idea behind the Facebook personalization?
They’d used [personalization] for an ad before the presidential election, and it had been hugely successful. At that point it was only able to use your name within the text of the video on signs and on a fake news tracker. But it didn’t have the ability to use photos and such because it wasn’t connecting through Facebook. I mean, I’m not a Facebook person; I don’t have a Facebook page, so this is my entry way into Facebook technology. Now we’re able to use photos from Facebook and your friends’ names and your name, which makes it more intensely personal. We also recorded [me saying] 500 names, so whatever your name is, hopefully it’s one of those names I yell at you from the banner ad. It was worth doing that because people have a much more visceral reaction when they hear their name being yelled from their computer.
How did Romany Malco get involved?
The actor who was supposed to do it dropped out at the last minute because he had to work. So Romany just dropped everything and came over, and we explained it to him in a tizzy. We were like [in a tizzy], “OK! We’re making this video! And I’m going to be yelling at you from the screen! We’re getting people to vote! We have this futuristic world! Everything’s gone wrong!” He was completely game and jumped right in and was really creative.
Did you see the video from last night’s Kentucky senatorial debate, when someone from MoveOn, presenting an award from “RepubliCorp” to G.O.P. candidate Rand Paul, was forced to the sidewalk and had a foot placed on her neck?
Yeah, I did see that. It’s disgusting. Obviously she wasn’t doing anything wrong; she wasn’t a threat of any kind. It’s exactly the problem, and people should be outraged. It should be another reason to become involved and pay attention. That’s why organizations like MoveOn are so important, because they bring attention to these things.
So it seems like you don’t have many concerns about putting yourself out there politically?
Not at all. I stand by my beliefs. I don’t force them on anybody else, but it’s something that I’m willing to back up and something that I believe in. I’m not afraid of alienating myself from certain audiences, if that’s what you mean. [Laughs] I’m sure I lost maybe couple thousand people on Twitter. I probably lose them every time tweet anything political. But I don’t mind at all. I would rather stay true to my own political beliefs than pretend not to have them.