Last weekend, the 79th annual Venice International Film Festival commenced in Venice, Italy. Regarded as one of the most popular and elegant film festivals, it sees every actor, director, and producer on their best behavior as it is often the premiere of a movie they believe could sweep the Oscars.
However, last weekend was also a weekend of firsts.
For the first time in the festival’s history, an actress refused to walk the red carpet and an actor appeared to spit on his co-star for no apparent reason. Additionally, strategic seating charts kept certain members of the cast and crew away from each other and one actor looked as if he wanted to be just about anywhere else. And all of this was due to one film: Don’t Worry Darling.
Olivia Wilde’s second directorial film, Don’t Worry Darling, has generated a lot of press in the lead up to its September 23rd release and hardly any of it has been positive. Talk of unprofessional behavior on and off set, lies, custody battles, and stunt casting gone wrong, Don’t Worry Darling is set to go down in history for all the wrong reasons.
It must first be noted that a lot of the rumors surrounding the film are just that, rumors. As is typical on the internet, circumstances surrounding the film have become conflated and overdramatized, but what is known might not be all that better.
Starting in April of 2020, Florence Pugh and Shia LaBeouf were officially announced as the lead actors of Don’t Worry Darling. Like everything else in 2020, filming was delayed due to COVID-19. During that time, LaBeouf was fired from his role and was replaced with British singer-songwriter, Harry Styles. Following the recasting, Wilde repeatedly stated that LaBeouf had been fired due to “combative energy and scheduling conflicts.” In an interview with Variety, Wilde said, “What we really needed was an energy that was incredibly supportive. Particularly with a movie like this, I knew that I was going to be asking Florence [Pugh] to be in very vulnerable situations, and my priority was making her feel safe and making her feel supported.”
On August 26th, 2022, LaBeouf went to Variety and revealed that he had not been fired, but had quit due to a lack of rehearsal time. To refute Wilde’s quote, LaBeouf released a video message on the internet that was sent to him from Wilde after he announced his resignation. In the message, Wilde said that she was “not ready to give up on [LaBeouf] yet” and that his potential resignation may be the incinivation “Miss Flo” needed to try to work things out on set. Despite Wilde’s accusations, a series of alleged texts between Pugh and LaBeouf reveal that the two were fairly friendly and had no qualms about working together.
Previously, there had been speculation on the quality of relationship between Pugh and Wilde. Pugh had not promoted the film on her social media pages, yet was promoting her smaller role in Oppenheimer and Dune 2, which is still in production. With the revelation of the truth around LaBeouf’s departure, it created an air of distrust around Wilde’s claims of closeness with Pugh, and gave much-needed context to Pugh’s behavior. This also created a lot of speculation around what could have happened during filming. There is nothing that currently suggests that LaBeouf and Pugh did not “have peace,” which began to pose questions such as why Wilde would worry about them making peace or why Wilde would claim LaBeouf was fired. It has been said that all press is good press, but shouldn’t all press also be consistent press?
The Venice Film Festival
The week following the Variety article, the cast flew out to Italy for the Venice Film Festival where the drama and speculation followed them. Pugh stated that she would be unable to do press for the film and might even miss parts of the festival due to the filming of Dune 2 in Budapest, despite her Dune co-star being able to make all his PR events for multiple movies. Eagle eyed social media users quickly noticed a video posted by Pugh’s stylist that captured her taking a leisurely stroll in while drinking an Aperol Spritz. Later that evening, Pugh made an appearance on the red carpet and attended the Venice premiere of Don’t Worry Darling.
To add fuel to the fire, Pugh revealed on Instagram that her styling team came to Venice equipped with shirts that read “Miss Flo,” an obvious reference to the video Wilde had sent to LaBeouf back in 2020. Though not much can be said about Pugh and Wilde’s relationship before this summer, it is safe to say that nothing will be the same between the two after this.
Likewise, it seems Harry Styles and Chris Pine are also having trouble getting along. With Pugh not at interviews, Styles (who is rumored to be Wilde’s new lover following her broken engagement with actor Jason Sudeikis) and Pine were paired together frequently and everyone was quick to notice how Pine was out of sorts. In nearly every interview, Pine looked as if he was on another planet. Particularly, during an infamous moment where Styles said that his favorite thing about the movie is that it “feels like a movie.”
Twitter users were quick to joke about the situation, however user @hiimbobbi perfectly encapsulated why Pine would be so removed from the event: “Imagine being Chris Pine, a PROFESSIONAL actor. Flip phone is charged. Feminist theory books on deck for your down time between junkets. You show up to your cast HATING each other and you get stuck on a junket with a man who has seemingly just figured out what acting is? Wow.”
And now, let’s talk about the infamous spit. As the cast was sitting down for the official premiere, a video was taken where it appeared as though Harry Styles, unprovoked, spit on Chris Pine. People were astonished, and for good reason! Twitter user @korysverse balked “Someone needs to begin a full fledged investigation into what happened on that don’t worry darling set… wdym harry styles spitting on chris pine on NATIONAL TELEVISION?” Similarly, user @spidermannwh commented, “the don’t worry darling drama is getting more and more absurd like what do you mean harry styles [spins wheel] spit on [spins wheel] chris pine.”
The alleged spit took the Don’t Worry Darling drama from just social media chatter to national news. Late night talk show hosts covered the spit extensively and social media users analyzed the video in a most FBI-agent manner.
Following the controversy, the original video of the spit has been taken down and many uploads of the video on Twitter have been disabled due to copyright. It is unclear whether or not this is the work of Styles’ or Pine’s PR team, as both have heavily denied the allegations. On his return to the United States for a performance at Madison Square Garden, Styles reportedly joked, “This is our tenth show at Madison Square Garden. It’s wonderful, wonderful, wonderful to be back in New York. I just popped very quickly to Venice to spit on Chris Pine, but fret not, we’re back!”
In the full video, Pine is seen removing his sunglasses and placing them in his lap, looking down after “the spit,” chuckling and then grabbing his sunglasses. It is plausible to believe that Pine had a momentary lapse and it coincided with Styles sitting down than it is that Styles would brazenly spit on his co-star in public and during such a high profile event.
Regardless of what may or may not have happened in Venice or on the set, both Pugh and Pine have confirmed that they will not be attending the New York City premiere on September 19th. This was pre-planned due to scheduling conflicts, but it still adds another layer to the already heaping drama.
Don’t Worry Darling is set to premiere on September 23rd, and while critic reviews have been less than favorable so far, there is still hope that the final product would have been worth all of the trouble, and we might not have to worry after all.