Filmmaker and photographer Tao Ruspoli was actress Olivia Wilde’s husband for nearly a decade. When they tied the knot, she was only 19 years old.
Born in November 1975, Tao Ruspoli is the second son of playboy Alessandro “Dado” Ruspoli, the ninth Prince of Cerveteri, and actress Debra Berger. Due to his ties with royalty, the filmmaker is often referred to as Prince Tao Ruspoli.
Berger, whose dad was actor William Berger, met Dado in Italy when she was only 17 years old and he was about to turn 50. The former couple moved to Thailand circa 1974.
Tao Ruspoli and Olivia Wilde on March 4, 2010 in West Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images
TAO’S LIFE AND CAREER
Although they were not married, they had Ruspoli in Bangkok the following year. The filmmaker, raised between Rome and California, studied philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley.
Ruspoli got involved in the entertainment industry for the first time after working for production designer Dean Tavoularis. His career attracted a lot of attention in 2008 with his feature film “Fix.”
Apart from writing and directing it, he also portrayed Milo, a documentary filmmaker. Olivia Wilde, Ruspoli's then-wife, also appeared in the movie.
WILDE AND RUSPOLI’S MEETING
Speaking of Wilde, she and Ruspoli were together for nearly a decade, and their relationship attracted a lot of attention from start to finish, especially because of their age difference.
A friend of Wilde’s family introduced the former couple in late 2002 even though she was reluctant to meet him. The actress once explained the friend described Ruspoli as an Italian guy who made movies and lived “on a school bus.”
She eventually agreed to meet him, and they hit it off right away. Wilde said she and Ruspoli were from worlds utterly different, but they had the same mission: bringing film and art together while adding some political activism to it.
Olivia Wilde and Tao Ruspoli tied the knot only six months after their first meeting. What’s even more impressive is that they eloped on the school bus he lived in, the same she initially found odd.
THE RUSPOLIS’ CASTLE
Ruspoli didn’t always live on a school bus, of course. When he was younger, he lived with his parents in a 16th-century castle in Italy. He never worked because he “never had the time” but still lived an eccentric life.
He hosted parties at the castle and even used the dungeon as a wine cellar, but eventually had to sell many of the items in his household to keep living his luxurious life.
My whole world has crumbled.
The Ruspoli's castle in Italy | Photo: YouTube/Cargo Film & Releasing
As time went by, Tao Ruspoli’s dad struggled to provide the necessary maintenance for the castle, so he passed it on to his younger brother, Sforza Ruspoli.
Nowadays, Sforza’s daughters, Claudia and Giada, are managing Ruspoli's former home. Apart from doing as much as possible to preserve the castle, they give tours and occasionally host parties.
In 2011, after eight years of marriage, Olivia Wilde and her husband divorced. She confessed Ruspoli really loved to take care of her, but she eventually realized the importance of spending time alone and not being defined by someone else.
Only two months later, she began dating actor and comedian Jason Sudeikis. They got engaged in 2013, welcomed two children, and parted ways in late 2020.
In Tao Ruspoli’s case, the divorce was much harder to get over. It inspired questions about relationships, which eventually turned into his documentary “Monogamish.” He wrote advice columnist Dan Savage this:
“I'm writing to you today because I'm in a state of total crisis. My wife has just left me after nearly 10 years together and my whole world has crumbled.”
To make “Monogamish,” Ruspoli spent five years interviewing everyone from historians and psychologists to anthropologists and couples to determine if it was possible to be “at best monogamish.”