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Journalism of Courage

Olivia Wilde unpacks Don’t Worry Darling controversies, from on-set tension with Florence Pugh to the firing of Shia LaBeouf

Don't Worry Darling has been plagued by some of the most intense pre-release controversies in recent memory. Director Olivia Wilde addressed every aspect in a recent interview.

Olivia WildeOlivia Wilde, director of the upcoming film Don't Worry Darling, discusses the film during the Warner Bros. Pictures presentation at CinemaCon 2022 in Las Vegas on April 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

Actor-director Olivia Wilde addressed the slew of controversies surrounding the release of her upcoming film, the psychological drama Don’t Worry Darling. From her rumoured on-set relationship with Harry Styles, the ‘firing’ of Shia LaBeouf, and the reported tension between her and her star Florence Pugh, Wilde spoke about everything in a new Vanity Fair profile.

She also addressed the controversies that began before the film went into production, concerning her separation from partner Jason Sudeikis, and the infamous incident in which she was served custody papers while on stage at the CinemaCon this year. While a source close to Sudeikis denied that he orchestrated the move, Wilde had her suspicions. She told Vanity Fair that the incident ‘was consistent with (her) experience of the relationship’.

Talking about the pre-release negativity surrounding her film, she said, “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.”

Wilde had originally cast Shia LaBeouf opposite Pugh, but the two reportedly clashed. Faced with a tough choice, she decided to remove the already embattled LaBeouf, who would go on to be accused of domestic violence some months later, and cast Styles as his replacement (with Pugh’s sign-off). “My responsibility was towards her. I’m like a mother wolf. Making the call was tricky, but in a way he understood. I don’t think it would’ve been a process he enjoyed. He comes at his work with an intensity that can be combative. It wasn’t the ethos that I demand in my productions. I want him to get well and to evolve because I think it’s a great loss to the film industry when someone that talented is unable to work,” she said about LaBeouf’s firing.

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But recently, LaBeouf disputed Wilde’s recollection of events, and provided proof that suggested the split was mutual. Vanity Fair cited a source as saying that the truth lies somewhere in between. LaBeouf had given Wilde an ultimatum about choosing either him or Pugh, and Wilde chose Pugh. She softened the blow by letting him believe that he was leaving on his own terms. “This issue is so much more nuanced than can be explained in private texts released out of context. All I’ll say is he was replaced, and there was no going forward with him. I wish him the best in his recovery,” she said, referring to the personal messages that LaBeouf had leaked in support of his argument.

Wilde also addressed a rather bizarre rumour, that her on-set romance with Styles distracted her from work, and that Pugh and cinematographer Matty Libatique ended up directing certain scenes in her absence. “It is very rare that people assume the best from women in power,” she said. “I think they don’t often give us the benefit of the doubt. Florence did the job I hired her to do, and she did it exquisitely. She blew me away. Every day I was in awe of her, and we worked very well together.” She pauses. “It is ironic that now, with my second film—which is again about the incredible power of women, what we’re capable of when we unite, and how easy it is to strip a woman of power by using other women to judge and shame them—we’re talking about this.”

She added, “Florence’s performance in this film is astounding. It’s just baffling to me that the media would rather focus on baseless rumors and gossip, thereby overshadowing her profound talent. She deserves more than that. As does the movie, and everyone who worked so hard on it.”


Pugh has pointedly distanced herself from Wilde in public. She appeared for the film’s premiere at the Venice Film Festival recently, but didn’t stick around for press interviews. She has also avoided publicising the film on social media. Videos of her stylists wearing T-shirts with the words ‘Miss Flo’ printed on them have been shared online. ‘Miss Flo’ was the condescending nickname Wilde allegedly used for Pugh in her messages to LaBeouf. The film is scheduled for a September 30 release in India.

First published on: 09-09-2022 at 10:56 IST
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