One of the year's most anticipated movies isn’t so anticipated for the film itself; instead, everyone wants to know what went down off-screen.
When news broke that Harry Styles – the most famous heartthrob at the moment (and some would even say of all time) – would be joining the beautiful Florence Pugh in what appeared to be a sinister dystopian film with a splash of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” excitement was unleashed.
However, looking back, the reason he signed on should have been a premonition; the immense amount of drama circling this film made it the subject of constant headlines even before it hit theaters.
After a phenomenal directorial debut with “Booksmart,” Olivia Wilde had over 10 studios attempting to obtain rights to “Don’t Worry Darling” with its star-studded cast adding to its appeal. In 2020, Deadline reported that Shia LaBeouf and Florence Pugh were set to star as Jack and Alice – a (seemingly) happily married couple living in a company-owned town called Victory. This was short-lived after Wilde, who called herself a “mother wolf,” fired LaBeouf when sexual assault claims came out against him. Coupled with claims of his erratic behavior, she wanted to ensure the set was a safe environment.
Not so long after Styles took over as Jack, he was pictured hand-in-hand with Wilde at his manager’s wedding in January 2022. Of course, the internet went into a frenzy, with mixed reviews on the matter. Months prior to this, Wilde had actually ended her years-long engagement to fellow actor Jason Sudeikis, with whom she shares two children. They are currently undergoing an intense custody battle, which included a very public moment when Wilde was served custody papers mid-speech at CinemaCon. One of the ongoing rumors speculates that her romantic connection to Styles might have started before she called it quits with Sudeikis.
As filming continued and more paparazzi photos of Wilde and Styles came to light, so did the tension between Pugh and Wilde. The first signs came when the second trailer dropped. Pugh, who is constantly uplifting the films she is in on her social media, posted the new poster for “Oppenheimer” and nothing for “Don’t Worry Darling.” Then, sources continued speculating that Pugh was not only uncomfortable with the brewing romance between her co-star and director, but that she had to take on some directorial roles while filming.
The usual negative discourse surrounding Olivia Wilde could have just been another misogynistic way of hating certain women in the business, like when people randomly coined “Hathahate” against Anne Hathaway. But fast forward two years as speculation continued as to why Shia Labeouf departed from the film; he actually stepped up to discuss his take on why he decided to not play a Victory resident. Like a character coming back from the dead in a soap opera, Labeouf came out with a startling claim that he left the film — with a video to prove it. In this video, it appears Wilde actually begged Labeouf to stay on the film and referred to Pugh as “Miss Flo” in a condescending manner, possibly giving a nod to the idea that Pugh had not been working hard enough to make rehearsal time.
Wilde stands strong by her original story for recasting Jack, but it still begs the question of who is really telling the truth and whether Wilde is as in tune with her fierce feminist persona as we thought.
Though there are a lot of juicy storylines that haven’t been covered in this article, what was perhaps the juiciest for followers of this never-ending drama fest was the entire cast’s interaction at the Venice Film Festival. From the odd body language between cast members to awkward interviews to the obvious lack of Pugh at any press conferences, the “Don’t Worry Darling” premiere was a hot mess. There was even discourse that Styles spat on Chris Pine, but that ridiculous story was shut down. In fact, the dreams of a redemption arc in order to shift focus back to the film were squashed, given its debut at the Venice Film Festival left reviewers unimpressed. The film only achieved a 42% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Ultimately, the constant rumors are hard to sift through and it is difficult to know which ones are fully true. Nevertheless, “Don’t Worry Darling” quenched the thirst for celebrity drama everyone so desperately needed.
Lauren Gregorio is an Online Editor for Rowdy Magazine. In her free time, you can find her either blasting a rotation of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Taylor Swift's discography into her ears thanks to her wired headphones, taking naps, or re-watching Modern Family.