Olivia Wilde: I was deemed ‘too old’ to play Leo DiCaprio’s wife in ‘Wolf of Wall Street’

Today on Howard Stern, Olivia Wilde was in studio to promote her role on HBO's Vinyl and in the process provided lots of juicy tidbits, including the fact that at age 28 she was deemed “too old” for the role eventually played by Margot Robbie in Martin Scorsese's 2013 hit The Wolf of Wall Street (!). Also: why she wasn't “totally surprised” that Cowboys and Aliens flopped, what about her role on House makes her cringe, how Chris Farley brightened her day as a young girl and which of her former projects she hates the most. Check out 10 9 major highlights below.

1. She was deemed “too old” for the role of Jordan Belfort's wife in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street.

Wilde, then 28, auditioned for the role of Naomi Lapaglia in Scorsese's Oscar-nominated film but was told she was too “sophisticated” for the character — a note she eventually found out was code for “old.” Though the part eventually went to then-22-year-old Aussie Margot Robbie, Scorsese was so impressed by Wilde's Wolf audition that he cast her in Vinyl. 

“I did not [audition for Vinyl], because I had auditioned unsuccessfully for Wolf of Wall Street,” said Wilde. “That's the one I was too old for.” 

2. She wasn't “totally surprised” when Cowboys and Aliens flopped at the box office.

After telling Howard she had a blast filming the movie, Wilde admitted she never saw it as a slam-dunk despite the involvement of A-list talent like Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig and Iron Man director Jon Favreau. 

“I think we knew from the beginning that a movie called Cowboys and Aliens was treading a fine line, like in terms of the tone,” said Wilde. “We were like, 'what? Is this gonna work?' And I think — I wasn't totally surprised it was hit or miss, but I loved the movie. I thought Jon Favreau did such a great job.”

3. She fought to make her character in Tron: Legacy more complex.

“I was really fighting for her to be an atypical kind of character,” said Wilde of her decision to write a 500-page backstory for Quorra. “Because you know, when I first read her it was like, she was the femme fatale, she was like a little like fem-bot, perfect kind of sexy robot thing. And I was like, well…why don't we explore something a little more unusual? And I wanted her to be like the Joan of Arc kind of androgynous character. But when you pitch 'androgynous' to Disney, they're like, 'I'm sorry, what?'…I'm really proud of what we made for that character, and people still dig her.”

4. She unequivocally hates her first major TV role.

“It was the worst thing ever made,” said Wilde of the short-lived FOX TV series Skin, which was canceled after only three episodes. “I hate the show. …It was so bad.”

5. She had a memorable encounter with Chris Farley at age ten.

Before she was famous, Wilde's well-connected journalist parents took her to a taping of SNL for her 10th birthday — an experience that led to a sweet encounter with then-castmember Chris Farley at the episode's after-party.

“At this point, I was well into my aforementioned chubby, weird, 50-year-old lady stage…and I was standing by the cookie, brownie table,” said Wilde. “And I was a little insecure about it. And I was eating by myself…and Chris Farley came up to me, and he locked eyes with me, and he took a brownie and shoved it in his mouth, and then without breaking eye contact, took another brownie and shoved it in his mouth, and took a total of ten brownies…and then started pounding his mouth, like pounding and pounding, and like, 'aaaah!' And I was in hysterics. And he did that cause he recognized I was a little insecure.”

6. She got to choose her own merkin (a.k.a. “pubic wig”) for her role on Vinyl.

“You know what's funny, I have a nude scene in the episode this weekend, and we all wear merkins, cause like, it's the '70s […] They fit you, and they make it, and they let you choose the consistency and the color.”

7. She cringes at some of her work on FOX's House, which she starred in for five seasons.

“I was on House for years…we did so many of them, and it was like such hard work for so long, and I think I got lazy,” said Wilde, whose role required her to memorize lots of difficult medical jargon. “…You can get so wrapped up in memorizing that dialogue that you forget to act, you're just reciting. So that's what I catch myself doing. I'll see it on at like the gym or the airport or something, and I'm like, 'oh my god.' I'm literally just clinging to the dialogue. You can see my eyes like twitching.”

8. She was 100% on board for Sacha Baron Cohen's Ali G stunt at this year's Oscars.

Though many questioned Wilde's feelings about having her moment co-opted by Cohen's controversial Ali G gag at the big show, the actress doubled down on her previous comments that she found the bit a “hilarious and welcome surprise.” After noting that her original co-presenter was Jamie Foxx (who dropped out for unspecified reasons), she went into detail about the backstage shenanigans that ensued just prior to walking onstage.

“[Cohen] wasn't at rehearsal, and I was like, 'alright.' And then I get backstage…and I realize that we have like two minutes to go and Sacha Baron Cohen is nowhere to be seen,” Wilde recounted. “And I was like, 'Am I going out there alone? Just tell me right now'…little did I know he was hiding in the bathroom getting changed…I'm standing back there, and suddenly he shows up next to me, and he seemed really nervous. And he wasn't in the Ali G costume. And I was like, 'are you okay?' He's like, 'mmhmm, mmhmm, let's do this.' And the stage manager walked away, and the second he was out of sight, Sacha was like, 'here!' And he handed me the hat, and he's like 'tuck my hair into the hat!'…and I'm a huge Ali G fan, so I was like, 'yes! yes! this is great!'…We walked out there, and I could not contain my glee.”

9. She saw some pretty terrible things while working as an assistant for legendary casting director Mali Finn.

“We had one director who said, 'I just wanna meet every hot girl in Hollywood.'…he was terrible,” said Wilde. “We'd have someone come in like Julliard trained, and she would be brilliant, and she would leave the room and he'd go, 'did one of her boobs look smaller?'”