Harry Styles and Florence Pugh lying in bed in Don't Worry Darling

So What Exactly Is the Drama With ‘Don’t Worry Darling?’

The situation surrounding Olivia Wilde’s new thriller Don’t Worry Darling went from whispers on the internet and investigating social media posts to asking Wilde questions in interviews, Shia LaBeouf posting a rebuttal to her claims, and then whatever it is that happened in Venice. All of this has led to the internet talking more about the behind-the-scenes story on the film than the actual film itself, and so, it is a fascinating look at how rumors can shape a film’s reception before anyone has even seen it.

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While there is a lot we don’t know about everything that is happening, let’s break down each of the bits of “news” and the timeline that led to the Don’t Worry Darling that we’re getting at the end of September.

The Shia LaBeouf “firing” situation

There was a very different cast for this movie at the start, some of which I mentioned in my review (mainly Dakota Johnson dropping out and Kiki Layne taking her role). But the big change in terms of the PR storm around the movie came from Shia LaBeouf’s departure from the production. He left in September 2020, without much fanfare, and by December of that year, FKA Twigs had filed a lawsuit against him for assault and sexual battery. Shortly thereafter, Variety reported, based on their own sources, that LaBeouf’s departure from Don’t Worry Darling was actually due to the fact that he “displayed poor behavior and his style clashed with the cast and crew, including Wilde, who ultimately fired him,” though Wilde herself did not respond to Variety’s request for comment at the time.

Then, in February of 2021, Wilde appeared in a video discussion with director Emerald Fennell for Variety, where they discussed their approaches, and Wilde’s on-set “no assholes” policy came up, as well as talk of fostering a comfortable environment on set. However, despite an article that linked that conversation to her “firing” LaBeouf, Wilde herself didn’t draw a connection between the two or mention LaBeouf. She didn’t comment on the situation directly until an August 2022 Variety profile, which did say that she fired LaBeouf (“But in 2020, as production was just starting, Wilde made the decision to fire LaBeouf.”), though Wilde herself still wasn’t quoted as saying so explicitly. She told them,

I say this as someone who is such an admirer of his work. His process was not conducive to the ethos that I demand in my productions. He has a process that, in some ways, seems to require a combative energy, and I don’t personally believe that is conducive to the best performances. I believe that creating a safe, trusting environment is the best way to get people to do their best work. Ultimately, my responsibility is to the production and to the cast to protect them. That was my job.

In reference to Twigs’ lawsuit, she went on, “A lot came to light after this happened that really troubled me, in terms of his behavior. I find myself just really wishing him health and evolution because I believe in restorative justice. But for our film, what we really needed was an energy that was incredibly supportive. Particularly with a movie like this, I knew that I was going to be asking Florence to be in very vulnerable situations, and my priority was making her feel safe and making her feel supported.”

However, things got … interesting after Wilde’s interview, when Shia LaBeouf (who does not deserve our grace or our credulity given what he did to FKA Twigs and how he lied about his life to make Honey Boy) turned the whole thing into a “Who dumped who?” situation by sending Variety, among other things, a video of Wilde trying to talk him down about quitting the movie. Still, no matter whether LaBeouf technically quit or was fired, it could have been due to his behavior and others on set finding it unacceptable.

In the video, Wilde appears to be trying to coax LaBeouf into smoothing things over with the movie’s star, Florence Pugh (asking if they can “make peace”), after whatever difficulties they were having on set, so that they could get on with making the movie. Ultimately, we know that didn’t work out, but one video of Wilde attempting to keep the peace doesn’t mean she was lying to Variety about LaBeouf’s behavior being the root of the problem.

LaBeouf seems to be hung up on the public narrative that he was fired, despite the fact that even if he’s right about that, it does nothing to prove that he’s not the problem. In the email he says he sent to Wilde, in response to her interview, he says he’s “a little confused about the narrative that I was fired, however. You and I both know the reasons for my exit. I quit your film because your actors & I couldn’t find time to rehearse. I have included as a reminder the screenshots of our text exchange on that day, and my text to Tobey.”

He continues, “Firing me never took place, Olivia. And while I fully understand the attractiveness of pushing that story because of the current social landscape, the social currency that brings. It is not the truth. So I am humbly asking, as a person with an eye toward making things right, that you correct the narrative as best you can. I hope none of this negatively effects you, and that your film is successful in all the ways you want it to be.”

But again, that and the video don’t mean that LaBeouf’s behavior wasn’t a problem, and it’s hard not to be suspicious of him as he tries to launch yet another career comeback in the face of bad news about him, which was what Don’t Worry Darling would’ve been for him in the first place. Just a week after LaBeouf’s attempt to contradict Wilde, there was a new, high-profile casting announcement about him. And whether Wilde fired him or he dropped out, the larger point about the ability of everyone to work well together hasn’t really been effectively rebutted. If that broader point stands and Wilde views LaBeouf as the problem in the situation, it’s not surprising that she wouldn’t bother to get into the weeds of clarifying whether “fired” is exactly correct or not.

However, in the video, Wilde also refers to Pugh as “Miss Flo,” which has become a thing among Pugh’s team (her stylist captioned her picture from Venice with it, and her glam team all wore shirts that said “Miss Flo”). She also mentioned a “wake-up call” for “Miss Flo,” seemingly saying that LaBeouf being pushed far enough to call it quits might be jarring enough to make Pugh more willing to find a way to make their relationship work. That has only fueled speculation about a feud between Wilde and Pugh that had already been going around, which we’ll get to later on.

In a new interview with Vanity Fair, Wilde again asserted that LaBeouf’s behavior was unacceptable and was the reason things didn’t work out, with VF reporting that Wilde said she called LaBeouf and fired him herself, as well as that she did so because of Pugh’s complaints about him:

But during preproduction, Wilde tells me in London, Pugh told her that she was uncomfortable with LaBeouf’s behavior. Wilde says she called LaBeouf herself and fired him: “My responsibility was towards her. I’m like a mother wolf. Making the call was tricky, but in a way he understood. I don’t think it would’ve been a process he enjoyed. He comes at his work with an intensity that can be combative. It wasn’t the ethos that I demand in my productions. I want him to get well and to evolve because I think it’s a great loss to the film industry when someone that talented is unable to work.”

The piece went on to point out the video that LaBeouf shared with Variety, and Wilde responded by saying, “This issue is so much more nuanced than can be explained in private texts released out of context. All I’ll say is he was replaced, and there was no going forward with him. I wish him the best in his recovery.”

A lot of this was also accompanied by the reveal of supposed texts between Pugh and LaBeouf, during and about the production, in which they appeared to be on good terms, frustrated with difficulty coordinating schedules and misunderstandings.

TikTok rumors of where, supposedly, the real conflict was

Despite how much of a saga all of that is on its own, the TikTok that started it all predates the back-and-forth between Wilde and LaBeouf. Back in October of 2021, there was a TikTok that seemed to hint about Don’t Worry Darling. The user who posted it says she takes stories that she is told from movie sets and anonymously posts them as skits. She leaves out names and productions, and you’re meant to solve it with your own knowledge. The clues given in the 2021 video very much pointed to the production of Don’t Worry Darling and set a scene that would very much explain Pugh’s absence from a lot of the film’s promotion, setting the scene for rumors of conflict between Pugh and Wilde, rather than anything with LaBeouf.

This is all speculative, and again, we don’t know what is and isn’t true—and people are generally all to quick to pit women against each other and cast one of them as a villain—but this was what first planted the seeds (for me at least) that something went down on the set. The video alleges that Wilde was too infatuated with Styles to do the work necessary for the movie, which does reek of sexism separately from anything else, but also alleges that it led to Florence Pugh taking over and essentially directing the film herself.


That director is wild :/ Story was sent to me. No warranty for correctness. #story #storytime #tea #celeb

♬ Senorita Chicolita – Orchestra Heinz Kiessling

The obsession with Florence Pugh’s social media

Because of the TikTok that started it all, a lot of social media users began to watch how Pugh promoted her work. For the most part, Florence Pugh is very active on social media. She loves posting about her projects and interacting with those she’s worked with, and users noticed that she did very little to promote Don’t Worry Darling. They’d note that when a trailer would drop, she’s post something for Puss in Boots: The Last Wish or for Oppenheimer, but not for Don’t Worry Darling.

It went as far as fans monitoring her likes to see whether or not she’d engaged with Olivia Wilde’s posts that praised Pugh. It’s social media. We can’t really base anything on it, but fans took note of how Pugh was interacting with things, which only fueled their speculation that there was discord between Wilde and Pugh.


Things began to turn a bit more public when Olivia Wilde was seemingly served custody papers from her ex, Jason Sudeikis, on stage at CinemaCon. Wilde told Vanity Fair that she wasn’t shocked and alleges that this kind of thing is why she left her relationship with Jason Sudeikis (who she shares her two kids with). None of us know what happened between them, and Wilde has been publicly pointing to it being a toxic end, and while we don’t know whether or not they attempted to serve her previously, she tells VF that she thinks the choice of time and place was intentional on Sudeikis’ part to “disrupt” her moment.

“So many people were shocked on my behalf,” she said. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t that shocked. There’s a reason that I didn’t stay in that relationship. Unfortunately, that was consistent with my experience of the relationship. So I was probably the least shocked. But I was also deeply saddened by it—and disturbed by it in lots of ways…. I know it took an extraordinary amount of energy [for the server] to get in that room. It took a tremendous amount of forethought. And I will tell you, there are so many other ways to do that. I am not someone who lives in hiding. If that experience hadn’t been public, I never would have spoken of it, because I never would want my kids to know that happened. Unfortunately, they will know that happened.”

Bleeding into interviews with Wilde

All of this had led to a surge of Wilde being asked about feuds and behind-the-scenes issues. In both the Variety and Vanity Fair pieces, she says that there is no feud and that it is just the internet being the internet. She said the same thing at the Venice Film Festival, while everyone took notice that there was not a single picture of her and Pugh together from Don’t Worry Darling’s entire premiere at the festival.

While no one owes anyone any answers about all of this, it does stick out that Florence Pugh isn’t really doing press for the movie, and in the one cover story she did with Harper’s Bazaar, the most she said about the film was that she loved playing distressed women, and she also commented on everyone reducing her role to the sex scenes she shares with Harry Styles. “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,” Pugh said. “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.”

People also took notice that, in contrast, the sex scenes of this film have been something that Wilde has continued to push in talking about it (which actually doesn’t make sense once you’ve seen the film).


And now, the public display of the shit show that has become the press tour for Don’t Worry Darling. The Venice Film Festival became the hot ticket item in terms of Don’t Worry Darling because this was going to be the only press (announced) for Florence Pugh, and many figured that this would be the moment all our questions were answered. And, uh, it was something!

The weekend started with the news that Pugh would not be there in time for the press conference from the set of Dune: Part II, where she is playing Princess Irulan. Meanwhile, star of Dune himself, Timothée Chalamet (who plays Paul Atreides), was there promoting his film Bones & All all weekend and having the time of his life. Of course, it wouldn’t be surprising for Chalamet’s filming schedule to not be exactly the same as Pugh’s, but at this point, everything is so far under a microscope that even details like this become part of the narrative.

Pugh showed up there with an Aperol Spritz in hand, and her lovely Granzo Pat in toe, and enjoyed Italy, went to the premiere, and left. She never once took a picture with her co-star Harry Styles or Olivia Wilde but was photographed hugging and kissing Chris Pine, Nick Kroll, and Gemma Chan—again not necessarily meaning anything, but hard for anyone who’s heard of the supposed conflict to ignore.

Wilde was not even photographed with Styles. She took solo pictures, the group shots, and the entire group sat together at the premiere, and everyone again took notice of even the seating arrangement of Wilde, Styles, and Pugh. Whether that was by design at their request or to stop the internet from further investigating the situation remains to be seen.

There was also Spit-Gate, where it looked like Harry Styles spat on Chris Pine as he sat down for the film (which then had Pine putting his sunglasses on as the movie started), which Styles then made fun of at his return concert at Madison Square Garden in New York.

All of this has the internet wanting a movie about the production of this film and the press tour, and if that happens, I’d like to just put it out there that I look like the Target version of Florence Pugh.

And that’s (so far) what you’ve missed on Don’t Worry Darling.

(featured image: Warner Bros.)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her current obsession is Glen Powell's dog, Brisket. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.