Born Olivia Jane Cockburn on March 10, 1984 in New York City, Wilde - who later adopted her acting surname from playwright Oscar Wilde - was raised in Washington D.C. by her father, Andrew, a former National Geographic reporter and author, and her mother, Leslie, a journalist, author and producer for "60 Minutes" (CBS, 1968- ). In fact, many in her family were dedicated to journalism - her sister Chloe was a writer, while her grandfather, James Helvick (a.k.a. Claud Cockburn), and her two uncles, Alexander and Patrick Cockburn, were also journalists. Not interested in the family business, Wilde wanted to do act. After graduating from the Georgetown Day School in D.C., she attended Philips Academy, where she studied acting and appeared in over two dozen school productions. She later moved abroad to Ireland to continue her dramatic studies at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin. A rebellious teen and young adult, Wilde acted out by getting tattoos and piercings, dating older men and, at one time, even shaving her head; hence the natural fit of her stage name.
Wilde returned to the states and took up residence in Los Angeles, where she landed the lead in her first television series, "Skin" (Fox, 2003), a modern day take on "Romeo and Juliette" in which she played the sultry daughter of an adult film producer (Ron Silver) who falls for the son (D.J. Cotrona) of an anti-porn district attorney (Kevin Anderson). "Skin" came and went after only three episodes, leaving Wilde to find work elsewhere. Keeping with the adult film theme, she made her movie debut with a supporting role in "The Girl Next Door" (2004), a coming-of-age comedy about a straight-arrow overachiever (Emile Hirsch) who falls for his neighbor (Elisha Cuthbert), only to find out that she used to be a porn star. Meanwhile, after "Skin" was canceled, Wilde eloped with Los Angeles Filmmaker's Cooperative (LAFCO) founder and documentary filmmaker, Tao Ruspoli. Upon returning to Los Angeles, she was one of the key models in Abercrombie & Fitch's "Rising Stars" campaign in the summer of 2004. But it was her next television role that put Wilde on the map for good.
Returning to the small screen, Wilde began starring on "The O.C." and delivered a lusty portrayal of the stunningly sexy and bisexual Alex Kelly, the bad girl owner of the Bait Shop, where the other kids start hanging out. Though only on the show for its second season, Wilde was dynamic and provocative as the temptress Kelly, stealing the show from the rest of the cast and attracting many male fans, especially after her character became romantically involved with Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton). As she continued her work on "The O.C.," Wilde landed roles in feature films, including Nicholas Kazan's hotly anticipated Sundance Film Festival favorite, "Alpha Dog" (2006), co-starring Justin Timberlake, Sharon Stone and Emile Hirsch. After a small part in the critically acclaimed adaptation of "Running with Scissors" (2006), she played a college sorority girl who steals the prized notebook of a reclusive freshman (Patrick Fugit) in "Bickford Shmeckler's Cool Ideas" (2006), a straight-to-DVD comedy that barely registered with audiences.
Despite making strides on the big screen, Wilde continued to find greater success, as well as meatier roles, on television. She next had a prominent starring role in the short-lived drama, "The Black Donnellys" (NBC, 2007), playing the childhood friend of the Donnelly brothers (Tom Guiry, Jonathan Tucker, Billy Lush and Michael Stahl-David) who runs a local Hells Kitchen diner with her father and has a complicated relationship with one of the brothers. After the show was canceled in the middle of its first season due to declining ratings, she rebounded quickly by landing a supporting part on the highly successful medical drama, "House M.D." (Fox, 2004-2012). Wilde played Dr. Remy "Thirteen" Hadley, a new member of the infectious diseases diagnostic team formed by the irascible Dr. House (Hugh Laurie) who remains mysterious about her personal life, though overtime audiences learn that she carries the gene for Huntington's disease. Her nickname, Thirteen, derived from the number she received in the competition House conducted to find his new team.
Back on the big screen, Wilde played Princess Inanna in the biblical comedy flop, "Year One" (2009), starring Jack Black and Michael Cera. She next co-starred opposite Jeff Bridges and Garrett Hedlund in "Tron: Legacy" (2010), a long in-the-works remake of the cult favorite from 1982 that fared well at the box office, but failed to win over a substantial amount of critics. Following a supporting turn in the mildly received Paul Haggis thriller "The Next Three Days" (2010), Wilde played a denizen of an Old West town beset by a surprising alien invasion in the sci-fi Western hybrid "Cowboys & Aliens" (2011). Despite a great deal of hype, however, the movie was met with mixed critical reviews and was a box office disappointment. She next played Jason Bateman's sexy legal associate in the raunchy comedy "The Change-Up" (2011) and Justin Timberlake's mother in the sci-fi thriller "In Time" (2011), which took place in a world were people are genetically altered to stop aging at 25, but with the consequence that they die when their time runs out. Meanwhile, she nabbed parts in a wide variety of genres, including leading roles in the ensemble comedy "Butter" (2012), the character drama "People Like Us" (2012) and the thriller "The Words" (2012).