Don’t Worry Darling has given us unparalleled Hollywood drama to keep us warm through the long, cold, winter months. While there have already been many press cycles worth of rumors, it all came to a cataclysmic head at the Venice Film Festival—and the aftershocks are still being felt. So much so that a new profile of Olivia Wilde in Vanity Fair had to play catch up just to stay current with the latest updates of the story. (TLDR: She doesn’t give away much.)
First, there’s the elephant in the room–Shia LaBeouf. In an ironic twist, Wilde’s chat with Vanity Fair in July (when the original interview took place) was the most explicit about the press story she was running with in regards to his role: the director claimed “Pugh told her that she was uncomfortable with LaBeouf’s behavior,” so she fired him, adding, “My responsibility was towards her. I’m like a mother wolf. Making the call was tricky, but in a way he understood. … He comes at his work with an intensity that can be combative. It wasn’t the ethos that I demand in my productions.” Regarding the accusations in the actor’s personal life, she even added, “It’s easy to fire someone compared to coming out and talking about abuse.”
Of course, that conversation came before LaBeouf’s infamous email and the release of the “Miss Flo” video, which made it seem like Wilde didn’t fire him at all. In a statement to the outlet afterward, she told Vanity Fair, “This issue is so much more nuanced than can be explained in private texts released out of context. All I’ll say is he was replaced, and there was no going forward with him. I wish him the best in his recovery.” He certainly was replaced, but that doesn’t necessarily equal a firing. Meanwhile, a source suggested to the outlet that “to spare LaBeouf’s ego, [Wilde] seems to have allowed him to believe what he wanted to believe: that he was quitting.” Sure!
As for the reported on-set tensions between Wilde and Pugh, the director insisted they “worked very well together,” attributing Pugh’s lack of promotion for DWD to being “one of the most in-demand actresses in the universe.” “I didn’t hire her to post. I hired her to act. She fulfilled every single expectation I had of her. That’s all that matters to me,” said Wilde.
However, even her own description of their working relationship implied distance: “My tendency is to be everyone’s best friend and to socialize, and I think she often just needed the time and space to focus, so the way I supported her was to give her space and to be there if she needed anything. Florence was very focused on turning out that performance, which I can assure you took all of her energy.”
She also denied being “distracted by anything” on set (read: her relationship with Harry Styles, which she further denied overlapping with her relationship with Jason Sudeikis). This was supported by cinematographer Matthew Libatique, who told Vanity Fair, “It was one of the most harmonious sets I’ve ever been on, and I’m in the middle of the storm.”
In her post-Venice email, Wilde valiantly described the experience as a “fantasy coming true” despite a source telling Vanity Fair “that, privately, Wilde was crushed by what went on at the festival.” Despite the avoidance between director and star and Pugh’s team’s pointed embrace of the title “Miss Flo,” Wilde still made an attempt to calm the waters: “Florence’s performance in this film is astounding. It’s just baffling to me that the media would rather focus on baseless rumors and gossip, thereby overshadowing her profound talent. She deserves more than that. As does the movie, and everyone who worked so hard on it.” But try as we might to appeal to our better angels, we still can’t get enough!