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We’re Worrying, Darling: A Breakdown of the Drama Behind “Don’t Worry Darling”

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Texas chapter.

Finally! Some good celebrity drama is here at last. After the film “Don’t Worry Darling” premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Sept. 5, the Internet was awash in rumors, theories and videos of Harry Styles allegedly spitting on Chris Pine. To the non-chronically online, the drama may seem like it came out of nowhere, but gossip has followed the film nearly since its inception. And it truly is all that we’ve been waiting for — low-stakes Hollywood chaos that’s fun for all.

When “Don’t Worry Darling” was first announced, it was simply a psychological thriller and Olivia Wilde’s directorial follow-up to her critically acclaimed “Booksmart.” Florence Pugh and Shia LaBeouf were set to star in the film.

Soon after, LaBeouf left the project. After his departure, which was blamed on scheduling conflicts, LaBeouf’s ex-girlfriend, FKA twigs, sued LaBeouf for “relentless” domestic abuse.

Harry Styles was cast to replace LaBeouf in the film. Wilde later said that he was originally shortlisted for the film but couldn’t sign on due to his touring schedule. Once the pandemic hit and tours were canceled, he was available to star. Around the same time, Olivia Wilde and her partner of nine years, irl, break up. A few months later, in early 2021, several outlets reported that Wilde and Styles had started dating.

Styles stans, notoriously against him dating literally anyone, have subjected Wilde to persistent misogynistic attacks and rumors for the past year and a half. Some have suggested that Wilde’s relationship with Styles began before she broke up with Sudeikis, which she has denied.

While on stage introducing a new trailer for “Don’t Worry Darling” at CinemaCon, Wilde is handed a manila envelope that was later revealed to be custody papers from Sudeikis. (Sudeikis denied involvement in the stunt.)

In the lead-up to the movie’s release, Pugh has posted extremely sporadically on social media about “Don’t Worry Darling” and hasn’t provided comments for recent feature stories on Wilde, sparking rumors of a rift between the two women. Pugh criticized in an interview conversations around the movie reducing it to its sex scenes. “It’s not why I’m in this industry,” she said. Her comments could be interpreted as criticism of Wilde, who has focused on the movie’s sex scenes in many interviews

Seemingly confirming the rumors of the rift, Pugh announced that she would not be doing press for the film outside of its premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Wilde, however, has consistently denied the rumors, saying in a recent Vanity Fair piece, “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.”

In August, Variety published an interview with Wilde in which she said that she fired LaBeouf, which contradicted the earlier reports of scheduling conflicts. “His process was not conducive to the ethos that I demand in my productions,” she said, further explaining that she wanted to prioritize Pugh, who she alluded had problems with LaBeouf, and “protect” the cast and production.

In response to the Variety piece, LaBeouf denied that he was fired and instead claimed that he quit the movie due to a lack of rehearsal time. While anything LaBeouf says should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism, he provided videos and texts to Variety that Wilde sent him at the time of his departure from the film. The videos and texts show Wilde begging LaBeouf to reconsider and speaking condescendingly of Pugh and her alleged problems with LaBeouf, who has been documented to be extremely difficult to work with, particularly for female co-stars.

“I feel like I’m not ready to give up on this yet, and I, too, am heartbroken and I want to figure this out,” Wilde says in the video. “I think this might be a bit of a wake-up call for Miss Flo, and I want to know if you’re open to giving this a shot with me, with us. If she really commits, if she really puts her mind and heart into it at this point and if you guys can make peace — and I respect your point of view, I respect hers — but if you guys can do it, what do you think? Is there hope? Will you let me know?”

The recent Vanity Fair piece, which came out after LaBeouf released the video, reported that a source said LaBeof gave Wilde an ultimatum that she had to choose between him and Pugh. Wilde chose Pugh, but apparently let him believe that he was quitting the project. Additionally, Vanity Fair said that the video Wilde sent LaBeouf was before Pugh told her about her discomfort with her co-star.

Before the Venice Film Festival, Pugh announced that she would not be doing press at all, citing scheduling conflicts with her filming for the “Dune” sequel. She would be attending the red carpet and premiere.

The New York Times pointed out that “Dune” star Timothée Chalamet was able to attend several days of press for his new film “Bones and All” in Venice. “And one would presume that since Warner Bros. is distributing both “Don’t Worry Darling” and the “Dune” sequel, an accommodating schedule could have been carved out for Pugh the moment she signed on for the latter film,” continued NYT.

Now we have reached what could be the grand finale for the “Don’t Worry Darling” fiasco: the Venice Film Festival.

Chris Pine, who had thus far avoided any and all drama connected with “Don’t Worry Darling” was captured practically disassociating at the press conference as Styles gave banal answers about liking the movie because it “feels like a movie” and acting being difficult because “you’re pretending to play someone else.”

Just a few minutes after Wilde again refuted claims of conflict with Pugh, Florence Pugh arrived in Venice with a smile, toasting the camera with an Aperol Spritz in a video her stylist posted.

Pugh’s stylist captioned a post of Pugh in her red carpet look “Miss Flo,” apparently referencing Wilde’s video to LaBeouf. A picture that Pugh posted as she was getting ready showed two of her stylists wearing t-shirts that said “Miss Flo.”

On the red carpet, Pugh was seen embracing costars Pine, Nick Kroll and Gemma Chan, but not interacting with Wilde or Styles. Furthermore, despite apparently being a couple, Wilde and Styles barely interacted with each other, posed for no pictures together besides whole-cast shots and didn’t sit next to each other at the premiere. The seating arrangements were careful and clearly planned, with Pine and Chan seated in between Wilde, Styles and Pugh.

The most bizarre moment of the film’s premiere was when a video circulated Twitter of Styles taking his seat next to Pine, showing what some claimed to be Styles spitting into Pine’s lap. Twitter dissected the video like the Zapruder film, and eventually slowed-down clips and other angles of the moment proved that the spit didn’t happen, which Pine’s representative also confirmed.

At Styles’ first post-Venice concert at Madison Square Garden, he even joked about the spit, saying that he was glad to be back in New York and he “just popped very quickly to Venice to spit on Chris Pine.”

“Don’t Worry Darling” received a four-minute standing ovation at Venice that was cut short by Pugh leaving the theater, prompting the rest of the cast to follow suit. Some videos of the standing ovation show Pugh avoiding eye contact with Wilde, although a clip shared on the “Don’t Worry Darling” Instagram shows Pugh and Wilde making eye contact and clapping towards each other. In what could have been some kind of effort to distract from the drama surrounding the rest of the premiere, Styles also kissed Nick Kroll during the standing ovation.

To cap it all off, “Don’t Worry Darling” has been receiving middling to negative reviews and is currently sitting at 43% on Rotten Tomatoes. While this may seem like an ending, the film still hasn’t even premiered in theaters, so there will be plenty more worrying to do, darling.

Isabella is a journalism freshman at the University of Texas at Austin.