Rebel Wilson book published in the UK with blacked out text

A woman reading a copy of Rebel Rising by Rebel Wilson, the headline-making memoir has been published in the UK with allegations about the actor Sacha Baron Cohen redacted for legal reasons. Picture date: Monday April 22, 2024.
The book was released in the US earlier this month but its publication was delayed in the UK [PA Media]

The autobiography of Australian actress Rebel Wilson has been released in the UK - but one contentious section has been redacted.

The publication of Rebel Rising caused a storm in the US earlier this month because of Wilson's allegations against Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen.

The British edition of the book, published on Thursday, has blacked out the text believed to be relating to him.

A note has been added to the page saying the redaction has been made "due to the peculiarities of the law in England and Wales".

A spokesman for Baron Cohen said the redactions represented a "clear victory", and reiterated his position that Wilson's claims were "demonstrably false".

A spokesman for publisher HarperCollins told BBC News: "We are publishing every page, but for legal reasons, in the UK edition, we are redacting most of one page with some other small redactions and an explanatory note.

"Those sections are a very small part of a much bigger story and we’re excited for readers to know Rebel’s story when the book is released."

A spokesman for Baron Cohen told BBC News: "Harper Collins did not fact check this chapter in the book prior to publication, and took the sensible but terribly belated step of deleting Rebel Wilson’s defamatory claims once presented with evidence that they were false.

"Printing falsehoods is against the law in the UK and Australia; this is not a 'peculiarity' as Ms. Wilson said, but a legal principle that has existed for many hundreds of years."

The statement described the redactions as a "clear victory for Sacha Baron Cohen" adding that the claims Wilson made were "demonstrably false" and a "shameful effort" to sell books.

Other sections of the British edition feature further redactions, but much shorter ones with just the occasional sentence omitted.

It has been reported the entire chapter relating to Baron Cohen has been redacted in Australia and New Zealand, making the version released in those countries the most censored of any edition of the book.

In the original edition of the memoir, Wilson wrote about her negative experience working with Baron Cohen on the 2016 film Grimsby.

A woman reading a copy of Rebel Rising by Rebel Wilson, the headline-making memoir has been published in the UK with allegations about the actor Sacha Baron Cohen redacted for legal reasons. Picture date: Monday April 22, 2024.
A section on Sacha Baron Cohen has been redacted in the British edition [PA Media]

Baron Cohen has vehemently denied any impropriety, and the British comedian's lawyers previously said the evidence shows her allegations have "no basis in reality" and are part of a "cynical commercial ploy to promote her book".

They have supplied video footage of one scene in question, plus email exchanges, script excerpts and testimony from producers and crew members, which his lawyers say back up his case.

In a statement earlier this month, Baron Cohen's spokesperson said: "While we appreciate the importance of speaking out, these demonstrably false claims are directly contradicted by extensive detailed evidence, including contemporaneous documents, film footage, and eyewitness accounts from those present before, during and after the production of The Brothers Grimsby."

The Daily Mail published outtake video footage from one of the scenes Wilson described. She claimed the release of the "unauthorised and misleading" footage was "bullying and gaslighting me".

In the British edition of the book, Wilson also appears to have slightly rewritten one sentence where she originally said talent agency WME dropped Baron Cohen as a client.

In the UK text, the actress has added a line saying she doesn’t know why they parted ways and it could have been his decision.

Poor reviews

Rebel Wilson pictured on a chat show in April
[Getty Images]

The book as a whole has so far not received positive reviews from British critics.

In a two-star review, Emily Watkins of iNews described it as "so poorly written it's distracting".

"While no one picks up a celebrity memoir expecting to be transported by its exquisite prose, I’m afraid that the writing in Rebel Rising verges on distracting," she wrote.

Watkins described the "clangers" in the book as "a shame, because Wilson’s life story is interesting and her voice largely compelling".

She concluded: "Despite my gripes about the writing, there’s no question that it feels conversational – for fans of Wilson, Rebel Rising will be a treat, like sitting opposite her with a glass of wine. Less devoted readers, meanwhile, might emerge needing more than one stiff drink."

The Telegraph's Tim Robey was similarly unenthusiastic, also awarding the book two stars in a review headlined: "Chunks of Rebel Wilson’s book have been redacted – were they the funny bits?"

He said the British edition read like a "potpourri of weak jokes and self-indulgence".

"Rebel Rising has a frankness that’s sometimes not to its benefit," Robey said. "Wilson includes old diary entries about her fluctuating weight and her determination to 'make her own destiny': these read like Bridget Jones if Helen Fielding had lost her touch.

"Still, there’s a bravery to flapping them around in public, which goes hand-in-hand with Wilson’s look-no-filter persona."