Olivia Wilde is speaking out on the wild rumors surrounding “Don’t Worry Darling.”
From the viral Venice Film Festival red carpet interactions between Harry Styles, Florence Pugh, Chris Pine, and director Wilde, to the debate over whether or not Shia LaBeouf quit the film or was fired, the 1950s-set psychological thriller has already caused pop culture waves ahead of its September 23 release.
In a new cover story with Vanity Fair, Wilde addressed for the first time the implication that lead star Pugh, rumored to have been paid a fraction of pop star Styles’ salary for her role, actually ghost-directed scenes for the film. Styles and Wilde, who also stars in a supporting role, are now romantic partners off-screen.
“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,” Wilde said. “The idea that I had five seconds in the day to be distracted by anything is laughable,” she says. “I was there before everyone. I was there after everyone. And it was a dream. It’s not like this work was not enjoyable. It was just all-encompassing.”
Per Vanity Fair, the rumor that Wilde and Styles’ relationship led to Pugh feeling “neglected or otherwise alienated, and that Pugh and/or the cinematographer even had to direct some scenes” embodies the misogyny that female directors and actresses face, as Wilde argued.
“It is very rare that people assume the best from women in power,” the “Booksmart” director 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.”
Wilde noted that Pugh also preferred to get into character by herself.
“She’s going through a cataclysmic existential breakdown, while everyone else is at a dinner party like, ‘La-di-da,’ smoking cigarettes,” Wilde added. “My tendency is to be everyone’s best friend and to socialize, and I think she often just needed the time and space to focus, so the way I supported her was to give her space and to be there if she needed anything. Florence was very focused on turning out that performance, which I can assure you took all of her energy.”
Wilde continued, “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.”
“Don’t Worry Darling” cinematographer Matthew Libatique said the film had one of the “most harmonious sets I’ve ever been on, and I’m in the middle of the storm.”
Wilde previously stated that LaBeouf’s exit was due to an effort for Pugh to feel “safe” on set. To Vanity Fair, Wilde echoed her recollection. “My responsibility was towards her. I’m like a mother wolf,” she said. “Making the call was tricky, but in a way he understood. I don’t think it would’ve been a process he enjoyed.”
Regarding LaBeouf, Wilde said, “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.”
LaBeouf leaked text messages between himself and Wilde, as well as a video of Wilde saying LaBeouf’s frustrations over a lack of rehearsal time could be a “wake up call” for Pugh. Wilde told Vanity Fair that the viral video was sent to LaBeouf prior to her knowledge over Pugh’s alleged discomfort. A source claimed LaBeouf offered an ultimatum: him or Pugh. Wilde said the situation was “much more nuanced than can be explained in private texts released out of context” and that she allowed LaBeouf to believe he was quitting the film.
“All I’ll say is he was replaced, and there was no going forward with him,” Wilde summed up. “I wish him the best in his recovery.”
As for the supposed tension among “Don’t Worry Darling” cast members, including the “ridiculous story” that Styles spit on co-star Pine, as Pine’s representative called it, Wilde spoke out on the assumption that Pugh’s lack of social media posting for the film is due to a bad experience on set. Pugh attended the Venice Film Festival premiere but did not partake in the press conference; the Oscar nominee also will not be at the New York premiere for the film.
“Florence is one of the most in-demand actresses in the universe,” Wilde said. “She’s on set on ‘Dune.’ I gather that some people expect for her to be engaging more on social media. I didn’t hire her to post. I hired her to act. She fulfilled every single expectation I had of her. That’s all that matters to me.”
Wilde concluded, “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.”