by Mackenna Hunter

Staff Writer

Image Source: The Vulture

When Olivia Wilde’s sophomore directorial project Don’t Worry Darling was announced in 2019, excited talk surrounded the film immediately. That talk only increased in 2020 when the cast was announced, including Chris Pine, Shia LeBeouf, and self-proclaimed Olivia Wilde fan, Florence Pugh. However, if the world was talking about DWD at the cast announcement, it screamed when LeBeouf officially left the project and pop icon Harry Styles was revealed as his replacement.

Despite LeBeouf citing a scheduling issue as his reason for leaving, Wilde claims that he was actually fired. According to an interview with Variety magazine, she felt he was intimidating Florence Pugh and she wanted to protect her. These claims were corroborated by the charges singer FKA Twigs, LeBeouf’s ex-girlfriend, filed against him of sexual assult and battery, as well as emotional abuse. Wilde also claims she always wanted Styles as the lead male role, but settled for LeBeouf due to Styles’ tour. January 2021, Wilde and Styles were seen holding hands in paparazzi pictures and an anonymous source told People magazine they were dating.

Internet hell broke loose when Variety published conversations between LeBeouf and Wilde, supplied by the retaliating actor himself. One video text from Wilde got her in particularly hot water, as she essentially begged LeBeouf to rejoin the cast while simultaneously trashing Pugh. 

Given that they are both directors and actors, senior Matthew Dietrich feels he can see through Wilde’s facade: “I think that she didn’t mean for it to be drama, she was just looking out for what was best for her movie, but I think you can’t do that, that makes you not credible. It was definitely snowball effect and then it got out of control and she couldn’t stop it and she started lying about everything.”

On September 5th, the DWD cast attended the Venice International Film Festival and it was immediately noted that Pugh, who had been distancing herself from the project all of 2022, was missing. When asked about her absence, Wilde stated that Pugh will be attending the Red Carpet portion of the event, as she has to fly to Venice from the set Dune 2. However, Pugh was spotted drinking in Venice before the Red Carpet.

Unsurprisingly, the Festival proved to be a perfect, dramatic storm. A video of Styles taking a seat next to Pine circulated the internet as speculation that Styles spit on Pine grew. Though she does not believe “Spitgate” actually happened, Styles and Pugh fan Kali Condon, a senior, brought up an interesting point in the form of a Twitter video where “it looked like Harry Styles threw a goat on Chris Pine. I thought I would just point that out because I thought it was really funny.” Representatives for both celebrities have denied the accusations, but the internet still suspects beef between cast members, as Wilde, Styles, and Pugh essentially ignored each other the whole night.

Despite the publicly negative perception of DWD, the movie has been all over social media since its September 23rd release. When asked whether or not she thought the drama was intentionally created to ensure the movie’s success, Styles superfan Krista Mathew, a senior, stated neutrally, “Everything that Olivia’s saying, I feel like she’s speaking from her mind and I don’t think she means for it to be drama, but it’s obviously controversial.” However, Dietrich has a much stronger opinion. “No matter what, it gives her bad credibility, but it also gets her more views. In business, people tend to do really crappy things- I mean, it’s Hollywood. She’s going to make money because people want to see all the tea that she brings. So she’s not a great person and she doesn’t have great credibility but she’s going to make views,” he says. To Dietrich, a huge factor in Wilde sacrificing her credibility was hiring Harry Styles. “I just think that it isn’t doing her well… because Harry didn’t pay off and she thought he would.”

As evidenced by Condon’s Twitter meme, Mathew’s long standing belief since childhood that Styles is “a good, genuine person”, and Dietrich’s immediate response of “to rate Harry’s performance” when he was asked why he would see DWD, it is clear that, even if Styles’ acting isn’t living up to the standard, his hype certainly is. As Dietrich eloquently put it, “people are going to go see it because they either want to see Harry do well or Harry suck.”