The new psychological thriller Don’t Worry Darling, set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival in September and hit theaters later that month, is arguably the most anticipated non-franchise film of the year—which says a lot considering that no one seems to know what it’s about.
However, the headlines surrounding the movie’s director Olivia Wilde and its stars, Harry Styles and Florence Pugh, leading up to its debut have become a melodrama of its own, threatening to overshadow the upcoming press tour and maybe even the project itself. Let’s dive into the mess!
It’s funny to think back on the seemingly innocuous, isolated news stories that have since spiraled into a full-blown tabloid saga. In September 2020, we learned that Styles would be replacing Shia LeBeouf as the film’s male lead after Wilde had fired the Honey Boy actor for “display[ing] poor behavior” on set. Two months later, Wilde was in the news again when she and her fiancé (and the father of her two children), Saturday Night Live alum Jason Sudeikis, announced their split, mostly just confusing folks who assumed they were married during the nine years they were together. In the words of Real Housewife of Beverly Hills Kyle Richards, it was hard to imagine how terrible things would soon become after this.
The media circus officially amped up when Wilde and Styles were photographed holding hands while attending a wedding a few months later in January of 2021. Many social media users, particularly Styles’ army of stans and people who apparently have very strong feelings about Ted Lasso, didn’t take this new couple alert lightly, criticizing the pair’s 10-year age difference and speculating that Wilde had begun an affair with Styles during filming before she and Sudeikis had called it quits.
Despite the initial backlash, Wilde and Styles have not been particularly shy about their romance. While neither has spoken directly about their relationship, the two have been photographed cozying up to one another on several occasions, and Wilde has been spotted rocking out at Styles’ concerts. Who can forget the long appreciation screed the Booksmart director posted on her Instagram about Styles simply for showing up to set and doing the job he was paid for? Additionally, several songs on Styles’ latest album Harry’s House, especially the rather blunt track “Cinema,” seem to be dedicated to his new Hollywood beau.
Like most women who date famous men with 14-year-old admirers, Wilde has been the victim of some pretty vicious attacks from Styles’ aggressive fanbase on the internet since the pair went public. She also became the subject of pregnancy rumors after someone snapped a photo of her waiting for the subway a few months ago. This anti-Wilde sentiment on social media was sent into overdrive, though, when she was infamously served custody papers from a process server representing Sudeikis while promoting Don’t Worry Darling at CinemaCon this past April.
Immediately, envelope-gate became one of the most shocking and random celebrity stories of the year so far, with folks wondering whether Sudeikis arranged for his ex to receive the documents in a public setting with the purpose of humiliating her. Others speculated that it was Wilde who revealed the contents of the envelope to the press to get back at him. Sudeikis has since denied that he orchestrated the ambush. However, Wilde accused her ex of “intend[ing] to threaten [her] and catch [her] off guard” in court documents that were acquired by Page Six last week.
Now, how does Florence Pugh fit into all of this? In light of Wilde and Sudeikis’ breakup becoming hostile, rumors of tension between the 26-year-old actress, who plays opposite Styles in Don’t Worry Darling, and Wilde are making waves on social media.
It turns out that there are multiple layers to the widely-peddled conspiracy across Film Tik Tok and Film Twitter that Pugh despises Wilde, all stemming from her romance with Styles. In July, a source told Page Six that Pugh was uncomfortable watching the couple “all over each other” on the set of Don’t Worry Darling given that Sudeikis and their two kids would visit the production frequently. Before then, folks pointed out that Pugh did not post the official trailer for the movie or any other stills from the movie on her Instagram account, instead opting to promote other projects like her upcoming movie Oppenheimer. (Pugh has since posted a promotional shot of her and Styles on her main feed).
Social media users also caught wind of a quote from Pugh’s recent cover story in Harper’s Bazaar that has largely been interpreted as a slight against Wilde, who’s been boasting about the film’s allegedly “wild” sex scenes to the press and on Instagram. When asked about the hype around her steamy scenes with Styles, Pugh replied: “When it’s reduced to your sex scenes, or to watch the most famous man in the world go down on someone, it’s not why we do it. It’s not why I’m in this industry. Obviously, the nature of hiring the most famous pop star in the world, you’re going to have conversations like that. That’s just not what I’m going to be discussing because [this movie is] bigger and better than that. And the people who made it are bigger and better than that.”
Whether or not Pugh was directing her comments toward Wilde or Styles’ fanbase she, at the very least, sounded… annoyed, which is all the evidence online sleuths needed to propel her rumored beef with Wilde even further.
On top of all of this, Pugh also revealed in the profile that she recently broke up with her boyfriend of four years, Scrubs actor Zach Braff. The two’s 21-year age gap garnered intense reactions from folks who deemed their romance inappropriate or even predatory, which Pugh previously responded to. Now that the actress has spoken publicly about their breakup, who knows if it’s something she’ll be pressed about as she starts to promote Don’t Worry Darling, in addition to all the other drama surrounding the film?
We’ll have to wait and see whether or not the press cycle for Don’t Worry Darling becomes one of the most awkward in recent memory. Even if all three parties are on friendly terms and handle the media’s more personal questions with grace, there will certainly be a number of people online looking for any ounce of tension amongst the group. The culmination of all this drama is both fascinating and more than a little sad.