Don’t Worry Darling, was both one of the most hyped movies of 2022, and one of the most controversial, and it all came to a head at the Venice Film Festival.
While the entire debacle was a whirlwind, there were key events that have consumed the media, adding even more fuel to the fire that something sinister is going on behind-the-scenes (and potentially has been for quite some time).
Around June/July 2022, TikTok users started speaking about an alleged feud between Florence Pugh and Olivia Wilde. The videos included a few key pieces of evidence which lead people to think something was amiss between the pair, but namely it came down to:
- Pugh’s lack of promotion for the film this year, choosing to promote other projects she’d been working on instead, like Oppenheimer.
- Pugh’s deafening silence when Wilde praised the actress for her work on the film. “Watching this woman work was such a f*ing thrill! Cannot wait to show you more,” Wilde wrote, alongside a photo of her and Pugh working together on set. Pugh however, didn’t acknowledge this post at all.
- Pugh’s omission of Wilde’s name in her ‘thank you’ post to the cast and crew of Don’t Worry Darling
Olivia and Harry’s Relationship
As we know, Wilde met her then-boyfriend Harry Styles on the set of Don’t Worry Darling, when he was cast as the lead male role. Many have theorised that their relationship violated professional boundaries, with some rumours claiming there may have been a slight cross-over in time between Wilde and Styles’ relationship and the breakdown of Wilde’s marriage to actor Jason Sudeikis.
“Florence Pugh had to direct parts of DWD bc Olivia Wilde was too busy… with harry styles,” one user theorised on TikTok.
According to a source who spoke with Page Six, Pugh was indeed unhappy about Wilde’s affair with Styles, which allegedly left Jason Sudeikis “distraught.”
“I can tell you for a fact that Flo seeing Olivia and Harry all over each other on set did not go down well as Olivia was still with Jason when she first hooked up with Harry,” the source said.
“Jason and the kids visited Olivia on set at the beginning a few times, so I think this all made people feel a little uncomfortable,” they continued.
At the time of filming, Pugh was still in a relationship with actor Zach Braff, who is good friends with Sudeikis. Given that the three were likely friends, it’s possible that Pugh was protective over Sudeikis and the breakdown of his marriage, which many posited was a result of Wilde meeting Styles. Speaking to Vogue in December 2021, Wilde told the outlet that the affair rumours were nothing but a “false narrative,” but it hasn’t stopped people from speculating.
The drama continued to unfold throughout August 2022, when Shia LaBeouf (the film’s original leading man) entered the chat to make a bombshell claim that he quit the movie, despite Wilde claiming she fired him.
In an profile with Variety earlier this year, Olivia cited that Shia’s “creative process… seems to require a combative energy, and I don’t personally believe that is conducive to the best performances,” a process that ultimately led him to abandon the role.
“A lot came to light after this happened that really troubled me, in terms of his behaviour. I find myself just really wishing him health and evolution because I believe in restorative justice. But for our film, what we really needed was an energy that was incredibly supportive. Particularly with a movie like this, I knew that I was going to be asking Florence to be in very vulnerable situations, and my priority was making her feel safe and making her feel supported,” Wilde said, in the interview.
On August 17 2020, LaBeouf announced he would be leaving the film, citing “scheduling conflicts” as the reason, and a few months later, was sued for sexual battery by his ex girlfriend, FKA Twigs.
Almost two years later to the date (August 26 2022), LaBeouf refuted Wilde’s claims that he was fired from the film, forwarding emails to Variety that he’d sent to her after the interview was published.
“You and I both know the reasons for my exit,” he said. “I quit your film because your actors and I couldn’t find time to rehearse,” one read.
So, Wilde is saying one thing and LaBeuof another, which all would’ve been classified as hearsay until he leaked a video from Wilde, in which she begged him to come back to the project, and spoke condescendingly of Pugh.
The Venice Film Festival
Understandably, fans were anxiously awaiting the Venice Film Festival, which runs from Wednesday August 31 to Saturday September 10, as it was an opportunity to see the entire cast together (and ask a body language expert to break down everyone’s movements).
When news broke that Pugh would not be doing any press for the film, except the Venice red carpet, people were only further convinced of something being majorly amiss. Pugh didn’t even attend the press conference, meaning Don’t Worry Darling‘s lead star will not be speaking about the film at its own worldwide premiere. Hmm.
Before everyone jumps to conclusions, it’s important to note that Pugh (unsurprisingly) was a very busy woman. The actress was filming Dune 2 in Budapest and travelled to Venice directly from a night shoot, before reportedly returning to set. This was cited as a major reason for her limited press for Don’t Worry Darling and the fact that she won’t be at the press conference, given that it took place on Monday morning (Venice time) which was only a few hours before the red carpet and premiere and Pugh’s private flight to Italy from Hungary was rumoured to have arrived after the press conference.
During the press conference sans Pugh, someone took the opportunity to ask Wilde about the feud rumours. Wilde swiftly shut them down, calling them “noise.”
“As for all the endless tabloid gossip and all the noise out there, I mean, the internet feeds itself,” she said, adding, “I don’t feel the need to contribute, I think it’s sufficiently well nourished”.
But, when a journalist attempted to ask a follow-up question about Shia LaBeouf, the talk’s moderator shut them down completely which lead to a sufficiently awkward pause.
The red carpet photos, while stunning, didn’t include any of Wilde and Pugh together, but Pugh did pose for several photos with her co-star Gemma Chan, in which they looked very chummy.
The Chris Pine spit gate
The drama surrounding Don’t Worry Darling didn’t stop at interpersonal conflicts between its star and director. A video from the Venice premiere appeared to show Harry Styles spitting in Chris Pine’s lap, a moment Styles later joked about at a concert.
Months later, we finally have a statement from Pine on #spitgate: “Harry did not spit on me,” Pine said in an interview with Esquire. “Harry’s a very, very kind guy.”
So what really happened? “I think Harry leaned down and said, ‘It’s just words isn’t it?'” Pine continued. “We had this little joke. We were all jet lagged and trying to answer questions and sometimes when you’re doing these press things your brain goes befuddled and you start speaking gibberish, so we had a joke: ‘It’s just words’.”
The actor also commented on the rest of the drama around the movie, saying it was simply a case of “normal things getting swept up in a narrative that people wanted to make”.
“If there was drama, there was drama,” he said. “I absolutely didn’t know about it, nor really would I have cared. If I feel badly, it’s because the vitriol that the movie got was absolutely out of proportion with what was onscreen.”
He added: “It was ridiculous.”
So there you have it. Harry Styles did not spit on Chris Pine. Case closed. (As for whether he was dissociating during the press conference remains to be seen…)