All The Don't Worry Darling Drama: Olivia Wilde And Florence Pugh's Alleged Feud Explained

While its early critical reception has been mostly favorable, and it received a 5-minute standing ovation when it screened at the Venice Film Festival, fans cannot help but feel a little worried about Don’t Worry Darling. For months, the psychological thriller has been burdened by rumors suggesting that film’s lead actor, Academy Award nominee Florence Pugh, and director, Olivia Wilde, have been in a feud behind the scenes. While we have no means to genuinely confirm this ongoing story as true, we can at least provide some insight as to where these allegations are coming from, beginning with the moment that really started it all.

Harry Styles smiling in Don't Worry Darling

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Harry Styles Replaced Shia LaBeouf In The Don’t Worry Darling Cast In September 2020

In April 2020, Florence Pugh expressed excitement on Instagram over being cast in her “idol” Olivia Wilde’s directorial follow-up to Booksmart as a 1950s-era housewife moving into an experimental utopian community alongside Shia LaBeouf as her husband. However, five months later, the former Transformers franchise star exited the Don’t Worry Darling cast — with scheduling conflicts then suggested as the cause — and was replaced by pop singer and Dunkirk star Harry Styles. Nothing was said further about the casting change (until much later), but Variety did report the following December that LaBeouf’s ex-girlfriend, FKA Twigs, sued the actor for sexual battery and made allegations of abuse against him.

olivia wilde in don't worry darling

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Reports Of Olivia Wilde And Harry Styles’ Alleged Romance Came Out In January 2021

Olivia Wilde’s relationship with Harry Styles reportedly grew into something more than strictly professional on the set of Don’t Worry Darling, as a Page Six exclusive from early 2021 showed the celebrities holding hands at a wedding. This news broke just a few months after the filmmaker’s once-private split from longtime partner and former SNL star, Jason Sudeikis, was officially made public in November 2020. A later report by Page Six from 2022 suggested this workplace romance was the catalyst of Florence Pugh’s alleged beef with Wilde, but the first inkling of these rumors really arose just a month after Wilde and Style’s PDA made headlines.

Florence Pugh in the sun, Don't Worry Darling trailer.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

In 2021, After Olivia Wilde’s Exclusion From Florence Pugh’s Celebratory Instagram Post, The Director Shared Post Praising The Actor, Who Did Not Give It A Like

When principal photography on Don’t Worry Darling wrapped in February 2021, Florence Pugh celebrated with an Instagram post featuring photos of multiple crew members, but none of Olivia Wilde, whose name was also not mentioned in her lengthy caption. This would go on to be noted as one of a very few instances of the actor publicly discussing the film, despite actively promoting other projects of hers online at the same time, but it would not stop Wilde from making a few Instagram posts of her own praising her lead star’s performance the following year. However, Pugh seemingly paid no mind to her director’s post — not even giving her a like — fueling speculation that she was intentionally distancing herself from the movie and, furthermore, Wilde herself. 

Harry Styles and Florence Pugh in Don't Worry Darling

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

In August 2022, Florence Pugh Voiced Discomfort Over Don’t Worry Darling’s Sexualized Marketing Despite Olivia Wilde Often Stressing The Sex Scenes’ Importance

While silence alone was enough to incite speculation over Florence Pugh’s relationship with Olivia Wilde, one of the actor’s first and only times speaking publicly about Don’t Worry Darling also happened to stir conversation. In mid-August 2022, the Black Widow cast member expressed to Harper’s Bazaar her unfavorable opinion about the overt sexual nature of the film’s trailer: 

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.

While Pugh believes that discussing Don’t Worry Darling’s sexual content is unnecessary, her comments are, however, a nearly direct contradiction to the opinion of the film’s director. Olivia Wilde had previously talked about how integral sex scenes were to the film in an interview with Vogue, earlier that year in January, and would double-down on this discussion in the opening paragraph of a Variety interview from August. These comments could easily have been wrongfully misconstrued as combative, but there were more details from that Variety story that would soon turn heads.

olivia wilde in life itself

(Image credit: Amazon Prime)

Also In August 2022, Olivia Wilde Denied Feud With Florence Pugh, Pay Disparity Between The Stars, And Claimed She Fired Shia LaBeouf

Said Variety interview was also one of the first times Olivia Wilde would address the rumors of her feud with Florence Pugh, which she chalked up as mere gossip and added, “Tabloid media is a tool to pit women against one another and to shame them.” She gave the same explanation to rumors that Harry Styles was paid more for Don’t Worry Darling than Pugh, whom Wilde also described as “extraordinary” and “clearly the most exciting young actress working today” in the interview. The article also revealed that the filmmaker fired Shia LaBeouf, with Wilde explaining that it was in order to ensure a safe environment for Pugh, especially. Well, LaBeouf had something to say about that.

Shia LaBeouf looking worried in the middle of a party scene in The Tax Collector.

(Image credit: Image Entertainment)

In Late August, Shia LaBeouf Denied Being Fired, And Leaked Video Of Olivia Wilde Seemed To Corroborate His Story

Following Olivia Wilde’s claims that she fired Shia LaBeouf from the Don’t Worry Darling cast, he directly responded by sending the filmmaker an email explaining that he quit the film because he and his would-be co-stars could not find time to rehearse. He forwarded the message to Variety, along with a video taken by Wilde herself addressing LaBeouf with the following plea:

I feel like I’m not ready to give up on this yet, and I, too, am heartbroken and I want to figure this out. 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. 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?

It appears that Wilde — who also openly described herself as an admirer of LaBeouf’s work in the aforementioned Variety interview — actually wanted to keep the actor involved with the project, which begs the question of why she would make up a story about firing him to provide a “safe” environment for her cast. It could be that her words were misinterpreted as such, but the implications what was said in the video seems pretty clear. We still have not heard Pugh’s take on the matter and may not any time soon.

The Don't Worry Darling cast at Venice Film Festival

(Image credit: Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

Florence Pugh Skipped Venice Film Festival Panel, But Did Attend The Screening

Olivia Wilde appeared in front of the press with the Don’t Worry Darling cast for an interview at the Venice Film Festival on Monday, September 5, 2022, but missing from the ensemble was the film’s lead, Florence Pugh — which immediately caused further speculation of this alleged feud. However, as Wilde would point out during the panel discussion, the actor has been filming Dune: Part Two in Budapest, but was luckily able to fly out to Venice in time for Don’t Worry Darling’s red carpet premiere at the festival.

Olivia Wilde at the Don't Worry Darling premiere

(Image credit: Photo by Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images)

Olivia Wilde Addressed Feud Rumors At Venice Film Festival Panel

Amid the absence of the film’s main star, one member of the press took the opportunity to ask Olivia Wilde to “clear the air” about her supposed feud with Florence Pugh during the Venice Film Festival Panel. The director’s response below seemed to echo the way she has addressed the rumors before — by continuing to praise the actor and citing internet hearsay:

Florence is a force; we are so grateful she is able to make it tonight [to the premiere] despite being in production. As for all the endless tabloid gossip and noise out there, the internet feeds itself. I don’t feel I need to contribute to it. It’s sufficiently well-nourished.

The official Instagram accounts of Don’t Worry Darling and Warner Bros. Pictures posted a video taken during the film’s minutes-long standing ovation at the premiere that sees Wilde and Pugh standing at a distance, but visibly applauding each other. Pugh also commented on the night in an Instagram post thanking everyone involved with the film with a special shout out to Chris Pine for snapping his own red carpet photos. She may not have addressed Wilde directly in her caption, but at least the gossipers can no longer say she isn’t bringing any social media attention to this film.

Olivia Wilde and Florence Pugh in Don't Worry Darling

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Olivia Wilde Addressed “Baseless Rumors” Regarding Don’t Worry Darling In Vanity Fair Profile

In an interview with Vanity Fair published days after the Venice Film Festival, Olivia Wilde doubled down on the comments she made about tabloid gossip surrounding Don’t Worry Darling. She pointed out the irony of an alleged feud between two women of power being the most talked-out subject involving a film about the empowerment of women when united. She later added that it is “baffling… that the media would rather focus on baseless rumors” than the performance by Florence Pugh, whom she also says she “worked very well” with.

She also called the belief that she left Jason Sudeikis for Harry Styles “complete horseshit” after noting that her romance with the pop star never distracted her from her devotion to the picture. The article also puts to bed allegations regarding the actor Styles replaced, Shia LaBeouf, with info from an unnamed insider source. The source claims that LaBeouf was, indeed, unhappy with the limited rehearsal time and Pugh was intimidated by his behavior, which led Wilde to side with Pugh and allow LaBeouf to “believe” he was quitting.  

Harry Styles in Don't Worry Darling

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Harry Styles, Chris Pine, and Spit-Gate

One of the rumors circulating Don't Worry Darling that doesn't involve Olivia Wilde at all began at the movie's Venice premiere. Because when Harry Styles sat down to watch the premiere, some fans thought that he actually spat in the lap of co-star Chris Pine. Video footage of the interaction quickly went viral, as the public slowed down clips to try and find the truth.

Eventually the noise around the rumored spit go so loud that it was addressed by both of the actors. Chris Pine's rep denied the wild story, while Styles joked about it in the middle of a concert. Eventually Olivia Wilde herself addressed Spitgate while promoting Don't Worry Darling, saying:

He did not. I think it's a perfect example of people who look for drama anywhere they can. Harry did not spit on Chris, in fact. He really didn't!

Well, there you have it. This is yet another example of the rumors that constantly swirled around the production and release of Don't Worry Darling. In response to this chatter, dozens of the movie's crew signed a statement denying the various reports of infighting and screaming matches. Although with the thriller finally in theaters, perhaps this chatter will finally slow down, allowing the movie's contents to speak for themselves. 

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.