Controversy Around Olivia Wilde's Don't Worry Darling Is 'Tough to Navigate with a Smile' (Source)

·3 min read
Controversy Around Olivia Wilde's Don't Worry Darling Is 'Tough to Navigate with a Smile' (Source)

The cast of Olivia Wilde's upcoming thriller Don't Worry Darling assembled on the red carpet for the movie's world premiere at the Venice Film Festival Sept. 5. But an industry insider says in the new issue of PEOPLE that all the drama surrounding the film has been "tough to navigate with a smile."

The situation is unfortunate, continues the source, because "everyone went into the movie with the best intentions."

Ultimately, the glitzy Venice premiere only fed the news cycle about behind-the-scenes tensions, the insider feels. "By trying to not make headlines they made way more." Star Florence Pugh, who skipped the movie's press conference but attended the premiere, "came out looking flawless while the others invoked questions."

The insider believes the thriller itself could generate plenty of appeal without the pressures of the film festival premiere: "There is so much sexiness and intrigue to mine. They should have skipped the festival and led with marketing."

Nevertheless, over the past several weeks, the movie — starring Wilde's real-life boyfriend, pop star Harry Styles, 28, and Pugh, 26, as a 1950s California couple living in a strange planned suburban community — has been in the headlines for behind-the-scenes turmoil.

RELATED: A Complete Timeline of the Don't Worry Darling Drama

Director and costar Wilde, 38, said in a Variety interview published Aug. 24 that she fired original star Shia LaBeouf, who was supposed to play Styles' role, due to his "combative" nature.

LaBeouf then shot back in an email to Variety, saying he "quit the film due to lack of rehearsal time." The actor also provided the publication with an email he claims to have sent to Wilde, asking her to set the record straight. "You and I both know the reasons for my exit," he wrote. "I quit your film because your actors and I couldn't find time to rehearse."

FLORENCE PUGH as Alice in New Line Cinema’s “DON’T WORRY DARLING,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
FLORENCE PUGH as Alice in New Line Cinema’s “DON’T WORRY DARLING,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Merrick Morton Florence Pugh in Don't Worry Darling

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday.

Variety also referenced a video of Wilde, which LaBeouf claims she sent him after he made the decision to leave. "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 said in the video. "You know, 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."

The same month, Wilde and Pugh also gave interviews in which they contradicted each other on the importance of Don't Worry Darling's sex scenes. While Pugh told Harper's Bazaar that she didn't want the movie to be "reduced" to just those moments, Wilde told Variety, they were "integral to the story."

At the Sept. 5 press conference for Don't Worry Darling at the Venice Film Festival, Wilde praised Pugh and side-stepped a question about an alleged feud, saying, "The internet feeds itself. I don't need to contribute."

Though Pugh was not present due to her schedule filming Dune: Part Two, she did arrive in time for the red carpet premiere that night, where she even reportedly walked arm-in-arm with Wilde at one point.

Early reviews for the movie are mixed, with many praising Pugh's performance. But with all the attention on it at the moment, Don't Worry Darling could still be a hit, says Jeff Bock, a senior media analyst for Exhibitor Relations Co. "It probably arrives with the most heat — for better or worse — of the September season."

Don't Worry Darling debuts in theaters Sept. 23.