Once in a while (actually, pretty often) a movie comes along whose production really captures the imagination. This is the story (so far) of one such production: the Olivia Wilde thriller Don't Worry Darling.
What's it actually about? We're not exactly sure. There's the ever-fascinating Florence Pugh getting our vote for an Oscar nod just for wrapping her head in plastic; there's popstar turned leading man Harry Styles doing transatlantic accent work; it's the '50s, we've got the crumbling facade of the American dream, mid-century gender dynamics, gorgeous colors, arresting mise-en-scène, A-line skirts, period wigs, an air of creeping terror. Sign us up.
Warner Bros. Florence Pugh and Harry Styles in 'Don't Worry Darling'
While the mystery of what's going on with the Victory Project and Chris Pine shouting about changing the world is part of Don't Worry Darling's appeal, there's also a lot of appeal in what's been going on behind the scenes: Cast shake-ups, romantic couplings, and the shadiest serve this side of RuPaul's Drag Race.
Let's go through some of the shenanigans that have made Don't Worry Darling not only one of the most anticipated films of the year, but one of the most buzzed-about as well.
Wilde about Styles
Movie sets have always been a hotbed for romantic tension — after all, we'd have no Bogie and Bacall without To Have and Have Not. And directors often take up with their actors, though it's usually a male director and his leading lady who do the taking. But it's 2022, and female directors can date their male leads, too, dammit! It's called equality. In an Instagram post, Wilde praised Styles, whom she started dating after meeting onset, saying that he "blew us away every day with his talent, warmth, and ability to drive backwards." Get it in gear, Styles.
She said, Shia said
"[H]is process was not conducive to the ethos that I demand in my productions," Wilde told Variety. ""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."
LaBeouf, however, refuted Wilde's side of the story, countering that he quit.
"I am a little confused about the narrative that I was fired," LaBeouf reportedly wrote, before calling the use of his name "attractive clickbait" for Wilde's Don't Worry Darling press tour. "You and I both know the reasons for my exit. I quit your film because your actors & I couldn't find time to rehearse."
LaBeouf also provided Variety with text messages and a video of Wilde referring to Pugh as "Ms. Flo" (that has since been leaked) to prove his point.
Olivia Wilde was just minding her own business at CinemaCon, in the middle of her presentation on Don't Worry Darling, when an unidentified woman slid an envelope labeled "Personal and Confidential" onto the middle of the stage. Wilde opened the envelope, gave a nonchalant "Okay, got it. Thank you," and kept it pushing. It was only afterward everyone learned that the personal and confidential envelope contained custody papers filed by Wilde's ex Jason Sudeikis, who later claimed he was unaware the legal serve would occur in such a public and non-confidential manner. Wilde went on to call the action "appalling" and "vicious."
A Pugh less stars
Don't Worry Darling's leading lady skipped the press conference for the movie's premiere at the Venice Film Festival due to scheduling conflicts but she did arrive for the red carpet. Though Wilde has heaped nothing but adulation on Pugh and her performance, rumors of a feud between the two women have swirled, with fans analyzing their every interaction for micro-expressions. But, of course, this wouldn't be Hollywood if we didn't pit two women against each other simply for daring to share the same space.
Venice the menace
The BTS drama came to a head at the Venice Film Festival, particularly when the film's press conference moderator shut down attempts to discuss said drama. Questions about Shia LaBeouf and his Rolodex of receipts were summarily brushed aside. And when asked about rumors of a feud with the absent Pugh, Wilde dismissed the question, sipping from what must have been the world's smallest tea cup: "The internet feeds itself," she said. "I don't need to contribute, I think it's significantly well-nourished."
A standing O ... and a solid B-
Don't Worry Darling came into Venice with a world of expectation thanks to all the fanfare around its production, and the crowd in the Floating City greeted it with a standing ovation. But, to be fair, what hasn't been greeted with a standing ovation at Venice?
Don't Worry Darling got a solid four-ish minutes, Brendan Fraser and The Whale got around six, but The Banshees of Inisherin, starring Colin Farrell, topped 'em all with 15. People were standing and clapping their calloused hands together for 15 minutes. At this point, it seems rude to not give a film a standing ovation, regardless of its merit.
Speaking of, in her "B-" review of the movie for EW, Leah Greenblatt called Don't Worry Darling a movie "high on snazzy midcentury style but considerably less bothered by the mechanics of cohesive storytelling."
Of all the stories to come out of the Don't Worry Darling press tour, this might just be the ... weirdest ... hottest ... grossest? According to a legion of social media sleuths, a now-viral video clip from the movie's Venice Film Festival premiere seems to show Harry Styles spitting on Chris Pine while returning to his seat.
While no spittle can be seen coming out of Styles' mouth, both men's body language at the moment, combined with Styles' pursed lips, led many to believe the pop star intentionally spat at Pine.
This being DWD, Pine's reps had to issue a statement that one full-grown man did not spit on another: "This is a ridiculous story. A complete fabrication and the result of an odd online illusion that is clearly deceiving and allows for foolish speculation. Just to be clear, Harry Styles did NOT spit on Chris Pine."
And that, kids and cadets, just about sums up Don't Worry Darling's life on the PR road: Harry Styles did NOT spit on Chris Pine. Olivia Wilde and Florence Pugh do NOT hate each other. Shia LaBeouf did NOT get fired. Are you NOT significantly well-nourished?