The film based on a true story, suggests that the 35-year-old actress’ character, real-life journalist Kathy Scruggs, had sex with a FBI agent in order to obtain information about Richard Jewell being a suspect in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing.
While attending the 2019 Gotham Awards on Monday (December 2), Olivia defended the movie and called out the criticism surrounding her character.
“I have an immense amount of respect for Kathy Scruggs,” Olivia shared with The Hollywood Reporter. “She’s no longer with us, she died very young, and I feel a certain responsibility to defend her legacy — which has now been, I think unfairly, boiled down to one element of her personality, one inferred moment in the film.”
According to THR, Olivia‘s character offers to sleep with federal agent Tom Shaw, played by Jon Hamm. He then gives Richard’s name to Kathy and then asks if they should go to a hotel or leave together.
“While they are never actually seen doing so, it is implied that they do sleep together,” the site states.
Olivia argues that critics are sexualizing her character and feels it’s because Kathy Scuggs was a woman.
“I think people have a hard time accepting sexuality in female characters without allowing it to entirely define that character,” Olivia said. “We don’t do that to men, we don’t do that to James Bond — we don’t say James Bond isn’t a real spy because he gets his information sometimes by sleeping with women as sources.”
Olivia continued, “This is very specific to female characters, we’ve seen it over and over again, and I think that Kathy Scruggs is an incredibly dynamic, nuanced, dogged, intrepid reporter. By no means was I intending to suggest that as a female reporter, she needed to use her sexuality. I come from a long line of journalists — my mom’s been a journalist for 35 years — there’s no way I would want to suggest that.”
“I do think it’s interesting that when audiences recognize sexuality within a character, they immediately, when it’s a woman, allow it to define her, and I think we should stop doing that and allow for nuance,” Olivia added. “It’s sort of a misunderstanding of feminism to expect women to become pious and sexless.”
Richard Jewell will be out in theaters on December 13 – you can watch the trailer here.