In July 2019, Deadline reported that Olivia Wilde was making a second attempt at filmmaking with Don’t Worry Darling after hitting big strides with her directorial debut on teen comedy-drama Booksmart earlier in the year. And when — less than a year later — the outlet confirmed that Chris Pine, Florence Pugh, and Shia LaBeouf had been cast as actors in the film, fans couldn’t be more excited, and apparently neither did Wilde. “This cast is BANANAS,” she tweeted at the time. “I’m the happiest director in the world. To say I’m honored/excited/thrilled/damned would be a massive understatement.” However, nothing could have prepared us, or even the cast, for the drama that was to follow. And no, this drama is not from the actual film.
From a steamy on-set romance to an alleged spat and possible breakup, Don’t Worry Darling might just be the movie we need right now. And if you weren’t already up to date, here’s a look at the bizarre controversies surrounding this film.
The drama between Olivia Wilde and Shia LaBeouf
Originally cast to play Jack Chamber, Shia LaBeouf was dropped from the Don’t Worry Darling cast in September 2020 and replaced by Harry Styles by deadline due to a scheduling conflict. Except that this obviously wasn’t true. In December 2020, sources told Variety that LaBeouf was fired from the film — something Wilde would later confirm in an interview with the outlet. “His process was not conducive to the ethos that I demand in my productions,” she said in an August 2022 cover story. “He has a process that seems to require a combative energy in some ways, and I personally don’t think that this leads to the best performances.”
Of course, this seemed like a good reason to let LaBeouf go, only the “Honey Boy” actor has denied being fired, claiming he quit first. In email messages he sent to Wilde, LaBeouf gave his own reasons for leaving the project. “You and I both know the reasons for my exit,” he wrote (via Variety). “I left your film because your actors and I could not find time to rehearse.” To back up his claim about quitting, LaBeouf also shared emails and a video showing Wilde’s apparent disappointment at his decision to leave the project. “I feel like I’m not ready to give that up just yet, and I too am heartbroken and want to find out,” she said in the clip.
The problem with Florence Pugh
After Deadline confirmed the cast for Don’t Worry Darling in April 2020, Florence Pugh took to Instagram and gushed about the opportunity to work with Olivia Wilde, whom she called her “idol.” But while Wilde and Pugh got off to a rather friendly start, it apparently didn’t stay that way for long. Rumors of a feud between the two first surfaced in February 2021, when the Midsommar actor shared an Instagram post to celebrate the end of filming on Don’t Worry Darling. Despite a lengthy caption praising the crew, Pugh conveniently left out Wilde’s name, leading fans to believe their relationship had gone sour.
That narrative continued to spin as Pugh hadn’t been promoting Don’t Worry Darling on her Instagram page for the longest time, although she was promoting her other projects at the time. And when she finally did, the initial excitement about the film just wasn’t there. As the press tour rolled around, Pugh was noticeably absent — though announcers insist her absence was unintentional and was only due to her being busy filming Dune: Part Two. It also didn’t help that the “Little Women” actress didn’t acknowledge any of the praise Wilde lavished on her in interviews and on social media.
The final straw came at the Venice Film Festival, however, when Pugh, who appeared to avoid eye contact with Wilde throughout the event, walked to the exit during a four-minute standing ovation, per Variety.
Have Olivia Wilde and Harry Styles split up?
While it’s not unlikely for co-stars to fall in love, or in this case for directors to fall in love with one of their actors, Olivia Wilde and Harry Styles, we definitely didn’t see it coming. First, there’s their 10-year age difference; then there was Wilde’s split from partner Jason Sudeikis in late 2020. But none of that seemed to stop these two stars from getting together.
In January 2021, People confirmed that Wilde and Styles’ relationship — which started out platonic — had taken a romantic turn. “Everyone saw it coming,” a source said. “During the breaks, [he] couldn’t keep away and visited her trailer.” TMZ also confirmed the couple’s relationship and reported that they attended a wedding together. Now, in the unspoken rule book, taking someone to a wedding means you mean business. So yeah, things between Wilde and Styles got serious pretty quickly.
But it seems that things between the two actors fell apart just as quickly as they started. Styles and Wilde also had their share of drama at the Venice Film Festival, as fans pointed out that the two were noticeably avoiding each other. As seen in a video shared on Twitter, a staffer tried to get Wilde and Styles to stand next to each other for a photo — but by the looks of it, the “As It Was” singer just didn’t have it. So is the true romance between Wilde and Styles over? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
Harry Styles allegedly spit on Chris Pine
As if there wasn’t enough drama surrounding this film, Harry Styles and Chris Pine seem to have their own thing going as well. The pair made headlines after a video of Styles arriving at the Venice Film Festival surfaced online. In the clip, Styles is shown taking his seat next to Pine, but just before he does, his lips curl into a pout aimed at the “Star Trek” actor, who then suddenly stops and falls to the ground looks. When Styles finally calms down, Pine shakes his head slightly, picking up his sunglasses and continuing to look amused.
There might not have been much that could have been made out of this video, other than netizens theorizing that Styles actually spat on Pine as he sat. “Harry Styles definitely spat on Chris Pine,” one fan tweeted, while another suggested there should be “a full investigation into what happened on this set, don’t worry darling.” But while Twitter sure likes to stir up a storm, both Pine and Styles have addressed the rumours.
In an exclusive statement to People, one of Pines’ reps said, “This is a ridiculous story — a complete fabrication and the result of a weird online illusion.” Styles also poked fun at the rumor, quipping during a stage performance, “I am just rushed to Venice to spit on Chris Pine.”
The alleged tension on the set
We may only have started seeing it at the Venice Film Festival, but the drama between the cast of Don’t Worry Darling apparently stretches back to when production was still underway. Per Rolling Stone, tension between Olivia Wilde and Florence Pugh began when the “third person” actor started dating Harry Styles. According to sources, this didn’t sit well with Pugh as the timeline of Wilde’s relationship with Styles goes back to when she was still in a relationship with Jason Sudeikis. “If she cheated on you [partner] with Harry Styles, and Florence knew about it, I could see it was a thing,” a source told Rolling Stone.
Adding to that, of course, Wilde’s relationship with Styles has already garnered attention from fans who weren’t particularly thrilled about the couple’s pairing. Between accusations of grooming styles and using the pop star to garner attention, Wilde has certainly come under scrutiny from the public, as explained by The Daily Beast. And while she’s seemingly unfazed by the frequent backlash, something tells us we’ve only scratched the surface of this film’s on-set drama.
Olivia Wilde called the rumors ‘baseless’
In the cover story for the October 2022 issue of Vanity Fair, Olivia Wilde touched on her alleged beef with the “Don’t Worry Darling” cast, particularly Florence Pugh, who continued to openly praise her for her performance in the film. “It’s just amazing to me that the media would rather focus on unsubstantiated rumors and gossip, thereby overshadowing her deep talent,” Wilde told the outlet. “She deserves more than that. As does the film and everyone who worked so hard on it.”
Wilde also addressed rumors of cheating on her ex-partner Jason Sudeikis, calling the claims “completely inaccurate” as she says her relationship with Harry Styles only began after she ended things with the “Horrible Bosses” actor . “Like any relationship that ends, it doesn’t end overnight,” she claimed. “Unfortunately, Jason and I have had a very bumpy road and we officially ended the relationship towards the start of the pandemic.”
Regarding Shia LaBeouf’s messy departure from the Don’t Worry Darling cast, Wilde insisted the issue was more complicated than it first appeared. “I’m just saying he was replaced and he didn’t go on,” she explained. “I wish him the best in his recovery.” LaBeouf has since responded to Wilde’s Vanity Fair interview, telling The Hollywood Reporter that “it is what it is” and that he “wishes her and her film every blessing.”