Drama and tension have been integral to the roll-out of director Olivia Wilde’s film, “Don’t Worry Darling” which premiered at the annual Venice Film Festival alongside 21 other films on Sept. 5.
The film stars Harry Styles, Chris Pine and Florence Pugh, all of which attended the festival. From dating rumors to unequal pay to cast “beef,” the hearsay surrounding some of Hollywood’s major players has kept the movie a trending topic ahead of its release on Sept. 23.
The internet was in an uproar after a video of Styles taking a seat next to his co-star, Pine, surfaced. As Styles takes a seat, he’s seen making a “puh” motion with his mouth aimed at Pine’s lap. Pine looks down, pauses clapping, and shakes his head.
The video has become an international meme with fans speculating Styles did in fact spit on his colleague.
“Just to be clear, Harry Styles did not spit on Chris Pine,” a rep for Pine told People magazine. “There is nothing but respect between these two men and any suggestion otherwise is a blatant attempt to create drama that simply does not exist.”
First announced in 2019, the seemingly never ending drama surrounding “Don’t Worry Darling” began in Sept. 2020 when Deadline reported that Styles replaced Shia Lebeouf in the lead role as Jack Chambers. The issue was originally attributed to scheduling problems until Vanity Fair later reported that both Pugh and LaBeouf had been unhappy about rehearsals.
Wilde has continuously asserted her responsibility towards her lead actress, Pugh, as the reason for Labeouf’s exit. “He comes at his work with an intensity that can be combative and is not conducive to the ethos that she demands in her productions,” said the 38-year-old actor and director.
Labeouf has publicly disputed Wilde’s claims saying “he quit the film due to a lack of rehearsal time” with Pugh and other actors. The “Even Steven” star even shared emails and texts that demonstrate the rift may not be as clear as presented by the “Don’t Worry Darling” team.
The psychological thriller follows a 1950s housewife, Alice Chambers (Florence Pugh), who “discovers her idyllic life in a manufactured company town is far from perfect.” Chambers develops a complicated relationship with her husband, Jack, as she begins to suspect he is hiding disturbing secrets. The film explores sex, patriarchy and mechanisms of control with Wilde’s “post-feminist prism” view of the world in mind.
“Don’t Worry Darling” made headlines again when Wilde and Styles, 28, were spotted at Styles’ manager’s wedding in 2021 holding hands.
An insider told US Weekly, “Harry and Olivia had chemistry almost instantaneously on set,” and that “it was only a matter of time before they got together.”
Don’t worry, darling, there’s more.
Controversy sparked again in April when Wilde was presented with custody papers while she prepared to present her second film at CinemaCon.
“I hated that this nastiness distracted from the work of so many different people and the studio that I was up there representing,” she says. “To try to sabotage that was really vicious. But I had a job to do; I’m not easily distracted,” said Wilde in her cover story with Variety.
While Pugh’s absence at the film’s press and photocall in Venice was attributed to the production of “Dune Part II,” another movie she’s starring in, rumors continued to overshadow Wilde’s accomplishments when a story broke that Pugh’s distance stems from Styles making three times more than her.
Fans have noted that Wilde and Pugh are always on opposite ends of each other in photos and seating. Though the narrative of a potential feud has been fuelled by Pugh’s lack of interaction with the film’s director and her on-screen husband, Styles, Wilde has continued to praise the “Midsommer” actress.
“Florence is a force, and we are so grateful that she’s able to make it tonight despite being in production on “Dune.” I know, as a director, how disruptive it is to lose an actor even for a day, so I’m very grateful to her, to Denis Villeneuve for helping us. And we’re really thrilled we’ll get to celebrate her work tonight. I can’t say enough how honored I am to have her as our lead. She’s amazing in the film,” Wilde told the festival’s press.
“I mean, the internet feeds itself,” she continued. “I don’t feel the need to contribute. It’s sufficiently well-nourished.”
With so much gossip infiltrating the roll-out of Wilde’s second movie, one would only hope the movie is worth it. The $20 million thriller’s Rotten Tomatoes rating currently sits at 44 percent.
One online critic said, “Olivia Wilde’s stylishly rendered but muddled domestic horror is saved by another show stopping performance from Florence Pugh.”
“Featuring…a knockout performance from Florence Pugh who steals the show like a repo man at 5 a.m., “Don’t Worry Darling” works up a substantial amount of goodwill. But the resolution is predictable” critiqued Cary Darling from The Houston Chronicle.
Wilde’s film has the opportunity to be saved by the public later this month when the movie hits the box office.
The 38-year-old actress turned director asserts “no amount of internet bullying can cause me to question my belief in a movie made collectively by so many brilliant people. We worked too hard, and went through too much together, to be derailed by something that really has nothing to do with filmmaking.”
Copy edited by Alana Matthew