Director Olivia Wilde wanted her “Don’t Worry Darling” cast to not have to worry about on-set safety.
Originally, Wilde was cast in the lead role of Alice, a suburban housewife who starts to question her husband Jack and their 1950s town Victory, California. Yet when Wilde decided she wanted a younger couple at the center of the film, she immediately thought of “Midsommar” star Florence Pugh and “Dunkirk” breakout (and international pop star) Harry Styles. However, Styles was touring at the time, and Shia LaBeouf was cast instead.
By early production days in 2020, Wilde realized LaBeouf needed to be let go.
“I say this as someone who is such an admirer of his work: His process was not conducive to the ethos that I demand in my productions,” Wilde revealed to Variety. “He has a process that, in some ways, seems to require a combative energy, and I don’t personally believe that is conducive to the best performances.”
At the time, Wilde cited a “no assholes policy” while the studio claimed LaBeouf had scheduling conflicts. Later that year, LaBeouf’s former partner and “Honey Boy” co-star FKA Twigs filed a lawsuit against the actor claiming sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse.
“A lot came to light after this happened that really troubled me, in terms of his behavior,” Wilde said. “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.”
The “Booksmart” director added, “I believe that creating a safe, trusting environment is the best way to get people to do their best work. Ultimately, my responsibility is to the production and to the cast to protect them. That was my job.”
As for LaBeouf, who is set to star in Abel Ferrara’s “Pedro Pio,” Wilde added, “I find myself just really wishing him health and evolution because I believe in restorative justice.”
And it all turned out for the best, it seems. Due to the pandemic, Styles’ tour was canceled, freeing his schedule to star in “Don’t Worry Darling” and, so Wilde says, wow his co-stars with a powerful scene that left her in tears (the good kind) on set.