“We gave her a start”: Paul Fenech hits back at Rebel Wilson claims

Pizza creator says Rebel Wilson is ungrateful after casting her as a relative unknown in 2003.

Filmmaker Paul Fenech has responded to claims made by Rebel Wilson, recalling an early career character she played was subjected to fat-phobic jokes.

“Rebel was happy building a career playing the big girl in Hollywood, now she’s saying we did her wrong? We gave her a start, took her around the world, gave her stage training and TV and feature film opportunities. How ungrateful,” he told Daily Mail.

“I guess she’ll do or say anything to sell a book.”

2003 feature Fat Pizza is Wilson’s first acting credit on IMDb.

She reprised the character of Toula until 2007 in series World Record Pizza and Pizza, on SBS before moving onto The Wedge (including Fat Mandi) and getting payback as Jennie Craig in her own comedy creation, Bogan Pride.

An excerpt from her new book quotes Wilson as saying of Pizza, “I felt like the girl who had gained access to a special men’s club. It was very clear to me what they found funny, and I went with it. I was in a boys’ show, so I had to take their fatphobic jokes right on my double chin.”

Despite acknowledging she went with the requirements of the role, Fenech insisted, “We always looked after her and gave her the creative freedom she needed. But look at the end of the day, No thank you. No gratitude, [and calling us] fatphobic?

“Rebel made her Hollywood career playing the big girl. Now suddenly Fat Pizza treated her badly? It’s hurtful and disgusting to me to hear this,” Fenech added.

Wilson has also attracted headlines around claims made during the production of 2016 film Grimsby which comedian Sacha Baron Cohen has denied.

Rebel Rising is released today.

7 Responses

  1. Her complaint was around the lack of support for comedy ideas she bought to the show and and being told she was trying too hard. She’s upfront that she traded on her size for the fat girl jokes across her career but the lack of a support or voice behind the scenes? Who would have thought a boys club might have existed!! I can imagine that would lead her to having less than positive feelings about her time on the shows.

    1. If the show you are talking about is Pizza, its self-funded, written and directed by one guy. On a small budget for the enormous amount of locations, casts and logistics involved. But sure, its a boys club because he didn’t take on one random person on as co-writer and creator of his own show. If Rebel wanted to, she could write, produce, direct and self-fund her own projects like Paul Fenech has. She’s certainly much richer than him so has no financial reason not to.

  2. Onya Paul for calling out Rebel’s lack of professionalism and grace. She has been insufferable in recent years. What kind of work was she expecting on a show like Pizza? She undoubtedly auditioned for certain types of roles and she took them… repeatedly. There was a “fat girl” niche that relatively few actresses in the industry could fulfil, and that schtick took her all the way to Hollywood. All I’m detecting here is sour grapes because she isn’t a good enough actress to deliver anything of substance since shedding the pounds, and burning bridges with those who previously supported her is neither endearing nor conducive to her continued prosperity.

    Rebel was such an unexpected success story and I’m sure Fenech and many other Aussies (myself included) were thrilled for her, but this inverse of Tall Poppy Syndrome may come to humble her dearly.

  3. How quickly a female entertainer is beaten down when she voices an opinion, and the sexism in the industry. Yet ‘others’ can get away with it for decades.

  4. Thank God that as soon as she could get a breakout role in Hollywood, she could put the fatphobic roles of Australia aside in a new world of acceptance. Yes got the role of Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect, ending her physical appearance bias she’d been subject to.

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