Behind the Scenes of “Don’t Worry Darling”



The cast of Don’t Worry Darling is on the red carpet at the Venice Film Festival.

Mattox Friedman, Associate Editor

Don’t Worry Darling was released just two weeks ago; however, many people worry about what happened behind the scenes. On April 24, 2020, it was announced that acclaimed actors Florence Pugh, Shia LaBeouf, and Chris Pine would star in this intense psychological thriller directed by Olivia Wilde.

That April, behind-the-scenes tension between LaBeouf and Wilde arose. On Sep. 11, 2020, it became known that pop star and aspiring actor Harry Styles would replace Labeouf due to scheduling conflicts, but that was only a half-truth.

Now Dec. 11, 2020, two of LaBeouf’s former girlfriends are claiming that their relationship was filled with “relentless abuse,” according to The New York Times. 13 days later, Variety released a controversial story about LaBeouf’s “poor behavior” and his “off-putting” attitude. Variety stated, “His style clashed with the cast and crew, including Wilde, who ultimately fired him.” It was reported Wilde has a “zero tolerance policy” for entitled behavior and lack of professionalism. 

On Jan. 4th, 2021, Wilde and Styles took over public conversations as they started the new year by attending a wedding together. Photos began appearing over the internet, and co-workers on set told People, “Everyone saw it coming. During breaks, he wasn’t able to stay away and visited her trailer.” 

Wilde attended CinemaCon, and a process server presented her with divorce papers while on stage. Her surprised reaction made it clear that she was caught off guard. In May 2022, Harry and Wilde are now together publicly and officially, but the “Styles fandom” showed backlash against Wilde, saying she was only dating him for the benefit of her first directed film. 

In August, Don’t Worry Darling ramped up its press, creating hype for the movie. However, Pugh has not been present at these press events; rather, she has moved on to other projects. Pugh’s reps say she is busy filming Dune 2 and is not posting much online, but rumors spread rapidly, insinuating she and Wilde are in the midst of an ongoing feud. Despite this, Wilde continues to express how amazing Pugh is, telling Variety, “She’s extraordinary. She’s clearly the most exciting young actress working today.” Pugh has not responded to any of Wilde’s comments or media posts, thus fueling the feud. 

On Aug. 24, 2022, Wilde attempted to put the “Tabloid media” surfing around her and Pugh to rest. Instead, she talked to Variety about LaBeouf, describing his acting “process” as requiring  “combative energy” that she does not “personally believe is conducive to the best performances” because it jeopardizes the “safe, trusting environment” that gets “people to do their best work.” Two days later, LaBeouf denied the claim telling Variety he “quit the film due to lack of rehearsal time.”

The night before LaBeouf’s exit from the set, he exchanged texts with Wilde. Wilde wrote to LaBeouf, “Thanks for letting me in on your thought process,” and “I’m honored you were willing to go there with me, for me to tell a story with you,” although “I’m gutted because it could have been something special. I want to make clear how much it means to me that you trust me.” Furthermore, LaBeouf sent Variety a video where Wilde asks him to try and work it out with “Miss Flo,” her nickname for Florence Pugh. It is interesting to note that, throughout the video, Wilde appears intent on keeping LaBeouf in the movie. 

Throughout the press tour before the film’s release date, Wilde expressed that she “was upset” that The Motion Picture Association forced her to cut numerous explicit scenes. Furthermore, Wilde discussed with the Associated Press her out-of-the-box perspective of a woman’s desires saying, “This idea is not to make you feel safe.”

Don’t Worry Darling kicks off the Venice Film Festival on Sep. 5, 2022. Despite being the lead actress who may have played a role in directing the movie, Pugh has not made any media contribution to the film. People were skeptical whether she would even show up to the festival with the cast in the public eye at the premiere. Fortunately, to fans’ pleasant surprise, she did show up. Pugh did not attend the press conference but was later in attendance for the red carpet-show and the movie screening. Yet People reports that it was always the plan due to her scheduling with Dune 2. During the press conference, Wilde brushed off a question about her alleged “falling out.” Her response: “Florence is a force, and we are so grateful that she’s able to make it tonight despite being in production on Dune.” Wilde then thanked the director of Dune, Denis Villeneuve, for allowing Pugh to “celebrate her work tonight.” On the same day, fans saw that both Pugh’s and Wilde’s stylists posted cryptic messages that hinted at more drama beneath the surface. First, Pugh’s stylist, Rebecca Corbin Murray, posted Pugh’s looks that day on Instagram with the caption “Miss Flo.” In the meantime, Wilde’s stylist Karla Welch posted to her Instagram stories which read, “There’s always more to the story….”

After the Festival, Twitter dragged another lead actor in the movie, Pine, into the drama. A video of Styles allegedly spitting on Pine went viral before Styles sat down in his seat. After the social media outburst surrounding the incident, Pine’s rep dismissed the rumor, communicating, “This is a ridiculous story—a complete fabrication and the result of an odd online illusion that is clearly deceiving and allows for foolish speculation.”

Two days later, Pugh announced merchandise reading off the mirror in an Instagram post “Miss Flo,” “Spit on me, Harry Styles,” and “Mentally I’m at the Venice Film Festival 2022.” 

Sep. 19, 2022,  Don’t Worry Darling’s NYC premiere, and Pine and Pugh were both absent at the event. In response, Pugh and Pine created a joint video that stated she is working halfway across the world while he is in production in Los Angeles. 

A couple of days later, Wilde was again asked about LaBoeuf by talk show host Stephen Colbert. She brushed off the question but did add that it was either keep him or Pugh, and she expressed that she wanted to move forward with Pugh. 

On Sep. 23, 2022, news broke from Vulture that an anonymous source said that due to Wildes and Styles’ constant random disappearances throughout filming, Pugh was angry at Wilde’s lack of dedication to the film. This conflict got a top executive from Warner Bros. Pictures involved, and a long negotiation process began to ensure Pugh’s participation in the film’s promotional tour “in any way.” An anonymous source from Warner Bros. Pictures expressed the company’s dissatisfaction with how the press for the movie has played out. The anonymous source further said, “Olivia is either a mad genius who figured out a way to make people more aware of the movie in a way that just drives up the box office, or she doesn’t have any self-awareness that she is fucking up her movie.”
On Sep. 24, 2022, Pugh posted a series of behind-the-scenes photos from Don’t Worry Darling thanking many people on set and the fun memories she had from filming. On the same day, 40 crew members came out saying, “As a crew, we’ve avoided addressing the absurd gossip surrounding the movie we’re so proud of, but feel the need to correct the anonymous ‘sources’ quoted in a recent article. Any allegations about unprofessional behavior on the set of Don’t Worry Darling are completely false.” The crew members also tell People all the rumors about Oliva Wilde screaming matches and unprofessionalism with Pugh and other co-workers were false. They explain she was a leader and a director who was always passionate and involved in every aspect of the movie. 

Behind-the-scenes drama and out-of-control rumors have detracted attention from the film itself. Don’t Worry Darling has received a poor rating from Rotten Tomatoes and other critics. However, audiences seem to disagree, rating the movie quite well. For anyone interested in formulating their own opinion, the movie is still out in theaters!