All the drama surrounding the new psychological thriller “Don’t Worry Darling” isn’t taking place onscreen. It’s happening in real life.
The movie, which stars Florence Pugh and Harry Styles as a young married couple living in a dreamy 1950s-style suburban community that isn’t as ideal as it looks, arrived in theaters Sept. 23. But for months leading up to its release, director Olivia Wilde’s film has been generating buzz – and not in a positive way, unless you’re all about Hollywood canoodling, passive-aggressive interviews, celebrity feuds, icy red-carpet appearances and manly loogies.
Not hip to the movie’s various scandals and controversies? Don’t worry, darlings, we’ve got you. Here’s everything you need to know about the drama, including Wilde’s responses to many of them on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” days before the movie’s debut:
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R-rated ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ arrived with a truly saucy trailer
The first footage previewed the film’s retro setting and also its sensual side, with glimpses of Styles and Pugh’s characters getting busy in a bedroom and also an oral sex scene on a dining room table. If Wilde had her way, there would have been more: Wilde acknowledged in a recent interview with The Associated Press that she “had to cut some shots” for the trailer when “the MPAA came down hard on me.”
Pugh, however, didn’t love the attention the steamy sequences brought. (She has other complaints, which we’ll get to.) “It’s not why I’m in this industry,” Pugh said in a Harper’s Bazaar cover story.
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Jason Sudeikis served Olivia Wilde with custody papers onstage at CinemaCon
The Las Vegas convention for theater owners was ground zero for more hubbub: Midway through her presentation, Wilde was handed a manila envelope labeled “personal and confidential” by someone from the audience. She thought it was at first a script but they turned out to be papers served by her ex Jason Sudeikis related to custody of their two children.
Wilde opened up about the incident in a wide-ranging interview with Vanity Fair, saying she was “deeply saddened” and “disturbed” by it.
“So many people were shocked on my behalf,” Wilde said. “I wasn’t that shocked. Unfortunately, that was consistent with my experience of the relationship.”
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Harry Styles and his ‘Darling’ director Olivia Wilde started dating (or so it appears)
Wilde and the former One Direction singer have been photographed kissing and holding hands throughout the past year, sparking speculation they’re a couple. “I’m not going to say anything about it, because I’ve never seen a relationship benefit from being dragged into the public arena,” Wilde told Variety. “We both go out of our way to protect our relationship; I think it’s out of experience, but also just out of deep love.”
Styles has kept their relationship pretty professional in interviews, telling Howard Stern that being directed by Wilde was “a wonderful experience.”
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Olivia Wilde and Florence Pugh may be feuding (or not, depending who you ask)
In July, unnamed sources told Page Six that Wilde and Styles being “all over each other on set did not go down well” with Pugh, since Wilde was still with Sudeikis during filming. (The couple officially split in November 2020.) Online sleuths took the “feud” and ran with it, pointing out that the day the “Darling” trailer debuted, Pugh shared a post about a different movie she’s in, Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer.” (Pugh did share a “Don’t Worry Darling” teaser on Instagram a month later.)
The “Darling” director and star kept their distance during the movie’s premiere at Venice Film Festival, where Pugh sweetly danced with her grandma on the red carpet. But Wilde, for her part, has called reports of their falling-out “baseless rumors and gossip,” and has been effusive in her praise of Pugh, who is currently shooting “Dune: Part 2.”
“Florence is one of the most in-demand actresses in the universe,” Wilde told Vanity Fair. “I gather that some people expect for her to be engaging more on social media. 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.”
She continued to praise the actress in her Sept. 21 interview with Colbert, denying any beef between the two.
“I have nothing but respect for Florence’s talent,” she said, while also commenting that her “male directing colleagues” would not be targets of such questions. “I have nothing against her for any reason.”
Wilde also praised Pugh a third time in an Elle interview published Oct. 13 when asked about the difficulty of the promotion around “Don’t Worry Darling.” She told the magazine for its 2022 Women in Hollywood edition about Pugh’s “wise” reaction to the rumored on-set drama.
“It is shocking to see so many untruths about yourself traded as fact,” Wilde said. “Florence had a really wise comment that we didn’t sign up for a reality show. And I love that she put it that way.”
Wilde said it feels like the public believes “that if you are making something that you’re selling to the public, you somehow have accepted that your life will be torn to shreds by a pack of wolves. No, that’s actually not part of the job description. Never was.”
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Shia LaBeouf may have been fired from ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ (or not, depending who you ask)
One of the latecomers to the “Don’t Worry” scuttlebutt is LaBeouf, who was originally cast opposite Pugh before Styles. When LaBeouf left just before production started in August 2020, Warner Bros. cited a scheduling conflict, but Wilde told Variety that he was fired because of an acting process that “was not conducive to the ethos that I demand in my productions” and required “a combative energy.”
LaBeouf fired back, forwarding a series of emails to Variety that he had sent to Wilde: “You and I both know the reasons for my exit. I quit your film because your actors and I couldn’t find time to rehearse,” he wrote. LaBeouf also included a video that Wilde allegedly sent him alluding to tension between the actor and Pugh: “I think this might be a bit of a wake-up call for Miss Flo.”
In Wilde’s “Late Show” interview, Colbert pressed her on the LaBeouf controversy, which she said was a “question of semantics.”
“We had to replace Shia,” she said. “He is a fantastic actor, but it wasn’t going to work and when he gave me the ultimatum of him or Florence, I chose Florence.”
She added that in the end, everyone “ended up with what they wanted.”
“He didn’t want to be a part of the production we were making in the way I like to make productions, and so he moved on. We moved on and replaced him and ended up with a cast that I’m so proud of, with a movie I’m really thrilled about.”
The Internet is afire that Harry Styles (maybe) spat on Chris Pine at Venice Film Festival
The latest “Darling” debacle happened at the Venice premiere, where several audience members captured video of Styles returning to his seat next to Pine and appearing to quickly spit on his co-star’s hand. Social media is treating it like the Zapruder film, looking for different angles and everybody offering their own – ahem – spit take.
While Pine seems to stop clapping as it happens and smiles, hinting it might be an inside joke between buds, Pine’s representative told People that it was “a ridiculous story” and, at least in this instance, the spit did not hit the fan: “There is nothing but respect between these two men and any suggestion otherwise is a blatant attempt to create drama that simply does not exist.”
Styles joked about the brouhaha during his Sept. 7 concert at Madison Square Garden, saying, “It’s wonderful, wonderful, wonderful to be back in New York. I just popped very quickly to Venice to spit on Chris Pine.”
Wilde addressed Spitgate on “Colbert,” calling it a “another one of our weird rumors.”
“People will look for drama anywhere they can. Harry did not spit on Chris,” Wilde said, noting that people “see what they want to see” even if video evidence shows otherwise. “He really didn’t.”
‘Don’t Worry Darling’ producer, crew deny workplace misconduct allegations
In a statement provided to USA TODAY on Sept. 24, Miri Yoon, a producer on the film, denounced “allegations about unprofessional behavior” on set as “completely false,” including the allegation that there was a verbal altercation between Wilde and Pugh during filming in January 2021.
“Olivia is an incredible leader and director who was present with and involved in every aspect of production,” read the statement, which was also signed by 40 crew members. “She ran this set with class and respect for everyone involved. There was never a screaming match between our director and anyone, let alone a member of our cast.”
After all that, ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ turns out to be a dud — sort of
All this ado ahead of the movie’s release had to amount to something, right? The movie had to be awesome enough to be worth all this time spent talking about it, correct?
Well, yes and no.
Ahead of the release, “Darling” garnered a thumbs down from critics, only mustering a measly 38% positive rating on RottenTomatoes.com – a far cry from the 96% mark Wilde scored for her excellent debut feature, “Booksmart.”
But during its opening weekend, the film opened No. 1 at the box office, debuting with $19.2 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates Sept. 25. For an original film that cost $35 million to make, a $19.2 million launch was solid – and slightly more than the studio had forecast.
A large number of moviegoers, including plenty of Styles fans, turned up to see what all the fuss was about.
‘Don’t Worry Darling’ survives drama, harsh reviews, tops box office with $19.2M
Contributing: Bryan Alexander, Patrick Ryan, Charles Trepany, Amy Haneline, Hannah Yasharoff and Edward Segarra, USA TODAY