Before the role of Jack in Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling landed in the hands of Harry Styles, Shia LaBeouf originally booked the lead part opposite Florence Pugh. However, right before production started, LaBeouf departed the project, with Warner Bros. Pictures citing the regularly-used phrase: “Scheduling conflicts.” Now, in a new interview with Variety, director Wilde offers a new perspective on the actor’s exit.
“I say this as someone who is such an admirer of his work,” Wilde begins. “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.”
LaBeouf has been known for his “combative” and erratic behavior on and off film sets for years now, resulting in numerous arrests and public scandals. However, shortly after LaBeouf was fired from Don’t Worry Darling, FKA Twigs filed a lawsuit against her former partner for sexual battery, alleging “relentless abuse” while the two dated. The trial is set for April 2023.
“A lot came to light after this happened that really troubled me, in terms of his behavior,” Wilde says. “I find myself just really wishing him health and evolution because I believe in restorative justice. But for our film, 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 to be in very vulnerable situations, and my priority was making her feel safe and making her feel supported.”
With LaBeouf out and a worldwide pandemic coming into full view, Styles soon found himself free of touring and able to take on the role originally intended for him.
“We found the perfect Jack, and luckily, it’s kind of magical that it ended up being our first choice,” Wilde concludes.
Don’t Worry Darling arrives in theaters on September 23.