It’s a movie making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Olivia Wilde’s “Don’t Worry Darling,” the much-anticipated thriller starring Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Chris Pine, Gemma Chan, Nick Kroll, and Wilde herself, made its debut at the Venice Film Festival over the weekend. But in the lead up to its Sept. 23 opening, the film has been mired in behind-the-scenes controversies — which at this point are provoking more interest than the film itself.
In the wake of its buzzy Venice debut, fans online are picking apart the cast’s behavior during the festival. Did Styles spit on Pine ahead of the screening or just sneeze on him? Did Pugh avoid eye-contact with Wilde during that four-minute standing ovation? Did Styles and Kroll share a moment of romance?
There’s a lot going on here, and if it’s lost on you, you’re not alone. We’ve unpacked all the “Don’t Worry Darling” drama, and here’s what you need to know.
What is ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ about?
“Don’t Worry Darling” is a psychological thriller set in the 1950s. It follows Jack Chambers (Styles) and wife, Alice (Pugh), who live in what looks to be an idyllic utopian community. But when Alice starts digging into the company her husband works for, a mystery begins to unspool, as does their happy life together, according to the film’s website. The film marks Wilde’s second directorial outing after her critically acclaimed “Booksmart” in 2019.
What’s with all the drama among the cast members?
Whew. Where to start? In a Variety cover story that published in mid-August, Wilde spoke about the film, revealing that Shia LaBeouf had originally been cast as Jack. But Wilde told Variety that as production began in 2020, she fired the actor.
“I say this as someone who is such an admirer of his work. His process was not conducive to the ethos that I demand in my production,” Wilde told the publication, adding that LaBeouf had “combative energy,” and that she made the decision to fire LaBeouf to keep her cast, especially Pugh, “safe” and “supported.”
But LaBeouf rebutted Wilde’s claim that he was fired, telling Variety he “quit the film due to lack of rehearsal time.” He sent the publication screenshots of e-mails and a video message from Wilde, where she says she is “not ready to give up on this yet.” She also seems to reference trouble between LaBeouf and Pugh:
“You know, I think this might be a bit of a wake-up call for Miss Flo, and I want to know if you’re open to giving this a shot with me, with us,” Wilde said. “If she really commits, if she really puts her mind and heart into it at this point and if you guys can make peace — and I respect your point of view, I respect hers — but if you guys can do it, what do you think? Is there hope? Will you let me know?”
The leaked video sent the Internet ablaze with curiosity and speculation of a rift between Wilde and Pugh. And on the heels of the film festival, fans are poring over every interaction (or lack thereof) between the pair, as well as the rest of the cast. When asked about the reported feuding at a press conference before the “Don’t Worry Darling” screening, Wilde said she was honored to have Pugh as the lead in the film, and called the noise “tabloid gossip.”
Still, people can’t help but pick apart every detail — down to the seating arrangement at the premiere, with Wilde and Pugh always a few cast members apart. When “Don’t Worry Darling” got a standing ovation after its screening, fans pointed out that it appeared Pugh was avoiding eye contact with Wilde.
Pugh also notably skipped the film’s press conference in Venice (she was coming from filming “Dune: Part Two,” according to reports) and hasn’t made any other “DWD” press appearances, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Pugh also hasn’t been promoting the film on social media. Rumors suggest Pugh had a falling out with Wilde after the director started a relationship with Styles, allegedly during production. Rumors also alleged that Pugh had been paid less than a third of what Styles was paid, but Wilde said there was “no validity” to claims of a pay gap in the Variety interview.
So, did Harry Styles spit on Chris Pine?
Another moment from the Venice festival has the Internet split. In a clip that began circulating online Monday night, Styles is seen taking his seat next to Pine before the “Don’t Worry Darling” screening. Pine is clapping as Styles sits down, but then Pine stops his applause and gazes down at his lap. He flashes an amused expression and shakes his head slightly as Styles appears to smirk and wave to someone.
As the clip continued to circulate on Tuesday, many online debated what exactly happened.
“He 100% spit on Chris Pine,” one user said on Twitter.
“After close examination I am absolutely of the opinion Harry Styles did not spit on Chris Pine because that would be insane,” a CNET reporter said.
Comedian Conan O’Brien weighed in on Twitter, adding that “one of the Minions spit on me at the premiere for ‘Rise of Gru.’”
By Tuesday afternoon, Variety had tweeted out a story stating that Styles categorically did not spit on his costar, according to Pine’s rep.
It does seem that Styles is getting along famously with one of his “Don’t Worry Darling” costars. As the audience gave a resounding standing ovation after the screening, Styles grabbed Kroll and kissed him square on the lips. So, at least we have that.