They say Don't Worry Darling…and yet we do! Musician Harry Styles was always so tight-lipped about his personal life, floating above scandal and not engaging with the drama. But then he became an actor, so the drama found him, it seems.
It started as a love triangle: He signs on at the last minute to replace another star in a female-directed film (yay!) and then falls for said director…even though she's only just publicly revealed the end of her previous relationship. Two years later this story has grown more complicated, with rumors that costar Florence Pugh was apparently unhappy with the environment on set, Shia LaBeouf reinserting himself into the narrative, and Jason Sudeikis dropping in to serve custody papers in a very public manner. At the center of it all is Olivia Wilde, just trying to sell some movie tickets. Let's get into it.
April 24, 2020: Deadline reports that Florence Pugh, Shia LaBeouf, and Chris Pine are set to star in Olivia Wilde’s psychological thriller Don’t Worry Darling.
September 11, 2020: It's announced that Harry Styles will replace LaBeouf in the feature film due to “scheduling conflicts.”
October 2020: DWD begins filming.
November 2020: Wilde announces that she and her fiancé of seven years, Jason Sudeikis, split toward the beginning of the year. “It’s been amicable and they’ve transitioned into a great coparenting routine,” a source told People. “The children are the priority and the heart of the family’s relationship.” The pair share eight-year-old son, Otis, and a five-year-old daughter, Daisy.
“It may be surprising to you to learn that I was in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship,” Twigs tweeted at the time. “It was hard for me to process too, during and after I never thought something like this would happen to me…which is why I have decided it’s important for me to talk about it and try to help people understand that when you are under the coercive control of an abuser or in an intimate partner violent relationship leaving doesn’t feel like a safe or achievable option.”
December 24, 2020: Variety reports that LaBeouf was actually “dropped from the film” ahead of filming due to “poor behavior.” According to the publication, “His style clashed with the cast and crew, including Wilde, who ultimately fired him.” At the time, both Wilde and LaBeouf declined to comment on the report. “He is not an easy guy to work with,” a source told Variety, adding that LaBeouf was “off-putting.”
The report also makes note of Wilde's alleged “zero asshole policy,” which will come up over and over again over the next year.
January 4, 2021: TMZ reports that Wilde and Styles attended a wedding as a couple as photos of the pair begin to go viral online. According to a source that spoke to People, their relationship blossomed on the set of DWD. “What started out as a close friendship quickly turned romantic,” the insider said at the time. “Everyone saw it coming. During breaks, he wasn't able to stay away and visited her trailer.”
April 27, 2022: A process server delivers custody papers from Wilde's ex Jason Sudeikis to her while she's talking about the film at CinemaCon in Las Vegas. Not strictly related to DWD, but it adds to the patina of “people not getting along” that covers everyone even tangentially involved here.
May 2022: If you were wondering how the Styles fandom felt about his relationship…they are not taking it well!
July 21, 2022: Olivia loves Florence! Loves her!
August 7, 2022: Wilde reveals some of the “mood boards” she created for the look of the movie. They are criticized for being tiny bit basic. Again, not exactly on topic, but an example of the way seemingly every bit of press for this movie seems to backfire.
August 11, 2022: As the press tour for the movie ramps up, fans notice that Florence Pugh is basically absent (her reps say she's in Budapest shooting Dune 2) and isn't posting much online, bolstering the rumor that she and Wilde are in a “feud.” Despite Wilde repeatedly complimenting Pugh on social media and in the press (“She’s extraordinary. She’s clearly the most exciting young actress working today,” Wilde told Variety), Pugh doesn't interact with any of Wilde's posts, and has so far promoted the movie on Instagram only once, a basic generic teaser post:
There is also, around this time, a rumor that Pugh got paid less than Styles for the movie, which everyone who has commented on it denies.
August 16, 2022: Pugh reveals to Harper's Bazaar that she and longtime boyfriend Zach Braff have split and says this about the buzz around Don't Worry Darling: “When it’s reduced to your sex scenes, or to watch the most famous man in the world go down on someone, it’s not why we do it. It’s not why I’m in this industry…. Obviously, the nature of hiring the most famous pop star in the world, you’re going to have conversations like that. That’s just not what I’m going to be discussing because [this movie is] bigger and better than that. And the people who made it are bigger and better than that.” Elsewhere in the Bazaar piece, Pugh praises the crew and COVID nurses who worked on the movie.
August 24, 2022: Wilde talks to Variety, dismissing rumors of a feud, saying, “Tabloid media is a tool to pit women against one another and to shame them.” She also describes the departure of LaBeouf thusly: “His process was not conducive to the ethos that I demand in my productions. 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. 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.”
August 26, 2022: LaBeouf tells Variety that he “quit the film due to lack of rehearsal time.”
LaBeouf claims that he and the director spoke about his quitting together, and that after a conversation the night before he officially left (mid-August 2020), Wilde texted him, “Thanks for letting me in on your thought process. I know that isn’t fun. Doesn’t feel good to say no to someone, and I respect your honesty. I’m honored you were willing to go there with me, for me to tell a story with you. I’m gutted because it could have been something special. I want to make clear how much it means to me that you trust me. That’s a gift I’ll take with me.”
The actor also sent Variety a video that Wilde had allegedly sent him at some point during all this negotiation, in which she refers to Pugh as “Miss Flo” and seems to confirm that the actors did not get along. “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,” she says in the video, which has leaked online. "I think this might be a bit of a wake-up call for Miss Flo,” Wilde continues, adding, “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?”
How much of this is savvy PR for LaBeouf's attempted redemption arc? In an email he shared with Variety, he writes to Wilde to both offer to make amends and also dispute her press strategy. Read for yourself and decide. Keep in mind that he told everyone he was abused by his father as depicted in his movie Honey Boy…and recently admitted that was not true.
August 31, 2022: The Associated Press publishes an interview with Wilde, in which the director admits she “was upset” about having to cut some sex scenes from the DWD trailer. “The [Motion Picture Association] came down hard on me and the trailer at the last second and I had to cut some shots, which I was upset about because I thought they it took it up another notch,” she said. “But of course we still live in a really puritanical society. I do think the lack of eroticism in American film is kind of new.”
She continued, “Then when it comes to female pleasure, it’s something that we just don’t see very often unless you’re talking about queer cinema. You know, it’s interesting because in a lot of queer films, the female characters are allowed to have more pleasure. Audiences aren’t as puritanical as corporations think they are. And yet people get upset. I mean, people are upset with me already over this. I think it’s a testament to the film. We want to be provocative. The idea is not to make you feel safe.”
September 5, 2022: Wilde and Styles pull up to the Venice Film Festival press conference for Don't Worry Darling in separate boats. Meanwhile, Pugh didn't arrive in Italy until after the press event, though People reports that this was always the plan due to her Dune: Part Two filming schedule.
During their panel, which also featured actors Chris Pine and Gemma Chan, Wilde brushed off a direct question about her alleged “falling out” with Pugh. “Florence is a force, and we are so grateful that she's able to make it tonight despite being in production on Dune,” Wilde answered, per People. “I know, as a director, how disruptive it is to lose an actor even for a day, so I'm very grateful to her, to Denis Villeneuve for helping us. And we're really thrilled we'll get to celebrate her work tonight. I can't say enough how honored I am to have her as our lead. She's amazing in the film.”
She continued, “As for all the endless tabloid gossip and all the noise out there, I mean, the internet feeds itself. I don't feel the need to contribute. It's sufficiently-well nourished.”
Be that as it may, Wilde's and Pugh's personal stylists both appear to have thrown a couple of bones into the internet's ravenous maw that same day on Instagram. Pugh's stylist Rebecca Corbin Murray captioned her carousel of Pugh's looks with “Miss Flo.” Meanwhile, Wilde's stylist Karla Welch uploaded photos to her IG stories, one with text reading, mysteriously, “There's always more to the story….” While both of these captions are vague, if you've read this far into this rundown you'll know exactly why they are prompting eyeball emoji from every which way.
Also on September 5, Chris Pine appeared to have finally been dragged into the drama against his will, when a video from the premiere had all of Twitter convinced that Harry Styles had spit on him before taking his seat. (His rep later dispelled the rumor: “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.”) Pine did not ask for this drama. Based on the proliferation of memes of his face from this event, Pine simply wanted to leave his consciousness for a little bit and let the messiness unfold around him. Alas.
September 7, 2022: The merch has arrived! On September 7, Florence Pugh posted a mirror selfie on Instagram in which her hairstylist can be seen wearing a T-shirt that reads “Miss Flo.” You can also find merch with the words “Spit on me, Harry Styles,” or “Mentally I'm at the Venice Film Festival 2022.” Capitalism, baby!
September 19, 2022: Florence Pugh and Chris Pine skip the New York City premiere. Instead, the two actors recorded a joint video message that was shown prior to the screening. After thanking attendees for coming to watch the movie, the pair explained that scheduling conflicts are the reason they couldn’t make it to the Big Apple. While Pugh is “working halfway around the world” in Europe on Dune: Part 2, Pine said he was "all the way in Los Angeles in production myself.”
September 21, 2022: Olivia Wilde says the debate over whether Shia LaBeouf was fired or quit Don't Worry Darling is a matter of “semantics.”
“There were private messages released without context to try to make a situation look like something that it wasn't,” she told Stephen Colbert during an appearance on The Late Show. “Early on in the process of making the film, as the director, I tried to mediate a situation between people to try to see if they can work together happily. Once it became clear that it was not a tenable working relationship, I was given an ultimatum, I chose my actress, which I'm very happy I did. At the time, was I bummed that we weren't able to make it work? Sure. Did information about him come to light later that made me confident we made the right decision? Absolutely.”
When pressed on whether or not he was fired, she said, “We had to replace Shia. He is a fantastic actor, but it wasn't gonna work. When he gave me the ultimatum of him or Florence, I chose Florence, and that was him feeling he was stepping away and me feeling like we were moving on without him.”
In another attempt at clarity, Colbert asked whether Wilde and LaBeouf could both be telling the truth as they see it. “It's a question of semantics,” Wilde agreed. “It wasn't going to move forward in the way that he wanted it to, and so he had to leave.”
September 23, 2022: There really is no end in sight when it comes to DWD drama. In a new report from Vulture, an anonymous source described a very tumultuous on-set experience. Vulture reports that tensions were high over the director's “frequent unexplained absences.”
“Olivia and Harry would just disappear,” the source said, noting that a “screaming match” eventually broke out between Pugh and Wilde, causing a top studio exec to get involved. According to the source, a “long negotiation process” began to ensure Pugh would participate in the film's promotional tour “in any way.”
An anonymous executive told Vulture that Wilde's bosses over at Warner Bros. are not happy with how the press tour has played out, particularly regarding her interviews about Shia LaBeouf's exit. “Olivia is either a mad genius who figured out a way to make people more aware of the movie in a way that just drives up the box office or she doesn’t have any self-awareness that she is fucking up her movie," another source said.
Reps for Warner Bros, Wilde, and Pugh did not comment on the report.
As for the role of the patriarchy in all this: Fran Hoepfner of Gawker summed it up aptly, “LaBeouf emerging at the eleventh hour to join in the ongoing Wilde pile-on feels spiteful and misaligned. Maybe it’s true that LaBeouf was not fired so much as he did quit, but Olivia Wilde can’t hurt his reputation anymore than he’s hurt it himself…. [Wilde's] getting hit at every turn, shouldering a relentless and misogynistic scolding for the type of otherwise rote Hollywood interactions that other filmmakers face with no fanfare.”
Only Gemma Chan remains unscathed at this point, and she must be protected.
This post will be updated. DWD comes out September 23.
Originally Appeared on Glamour