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What's the Drama Surrounding Don't Worry Darling? Here's What You Should Know.

A film starring Oscar-nominated Florence Pugh and singer-songwriter Harry Styles, directed by actress and Booksmart director Olivia Wilde is sure to generate a lot of excitement—and it has. Aside from the buzz surrounding the sex scenes, fans were given a sneak peek at in the debut trailer released this past May, Don’t Worry Darling has found itself at the center of Hollywood gossip with its recasting of Shia LeBeouf, rumored contention between Wilde and Pugh, and the romance between Wilde and Styles. As press ramps up and the film’s release date draws near, it’s time to look at what has caused so much drama. 


Don’t Worry Darling’s official website describes the film as an “audacious, twisted and visually stunning psychological thriller.” The film’s IMDb page summarizes the film: “A 1950s housewife living with her husband in a utopian experimental community begins to worry that his glamorous company may be hiding disturbing secrets.” Originally cast as the husband, Jack, was actor Shia LaBeouf, whose most recent work includes The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019) and Pieces of a Woman (2020). According to Wilde, LaBeouf left the role in August of 2020 and was subsequently replaced by Styles, whose acting credit applies to only a minor role in Dunkirk (2017) and a one-minute end-credit scene in Marvel’s Eternals (2021). Pugh plays the female protagonist, Alice, a 1950s housewife, while Wilde (aside from directing) plays Bunny, a supporting role. 


Little was known about LaBeouf’s recasting until Variety released an interview with Wilde in August 2022, titled “Olivia’s Wilde Ride: Directing ‘Don’t Worry Darling,’ Making Harry Styles a Movie Star and Being ‘Blown the F— Away’ by Florence Pugh.” Wilde stated, concerning LaBeouf, that “his process was not conducive to the ethos that I demanded in my productions. He has a process that, in some ways, seems to require 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.” 


After the publication of this article, LaBeouf reached out to Variety to explain that he was not fired but that he quit instead. According to a released message to Wilde, Labeouf stated that “you and I both know the reason for my exit. I quit your film because your actors and I couldn’t find time to rehearse.” Around the same time, a video of Wilde pleading for LaBeouf to return to the film surfaced. In the clip, she begs him to give the film “another shot” because she “feel[s] like [she’s] not ready to give up on this yet, and [she], too, [is] heartbroken and [she] wants to figure this out.” Wilde mentions a “Miss Flo,” which is speculated to be a nickname for Pugh. Wilde says that she “think[s] this might be a bit of a wake-up call for Miss Flo,” hinting at the suspected strife between these leading actors and their director. 


In addition, Pugh’s failure to actively promote the film hints at the tension between her and Wilde. Some of Pugh’s qualms with the reception of the film came to light in her Harper’s Bazaar interview, in which she spoke about the emphasis on her sex scenes in the first trailer released in May— “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. The nature of hiring the most famous pop star in the world, you will have conversations like that. That’s not what I will discuss because [this movie is] bigger and better than that. And the people who made it are bigger and better than that.”


Another conversation surrounding Don’t Worry Darling arises from Wilde’s split from her long-time partner and father to her children, Jason Sudeikis, in 2020, followed by her being photographed holding hands with Styles at a wedding in 2021, therefore sparking romance rumors. Moreover, the controversy arose because these rumors began while the film was still in production. Many fans speculate that Wilde’s relationship with Styles may have caused tension between Wilde and Pugh. A US Weekly insider claimed that “Florence and Olivia have had several disagreements personally and professionally, that’s why Florence isn’t doing any press for the movie.” 


September 4th, Variety reports that Pugh will be skipping the Venice Film Festival press conference for Don’t Worry Darling, but she will walk the red carpet. Don’t Worry Darling’s theatrical release is scheduled for September 21st internationally and for September 23rd in North America.

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Tags: Hollywood film Harry Styles Olivia Wilde Florence Pugh


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