Olivia Wilde addressed the gossip surrounding her fraught relationship with Don’t Worry Darling star Florence Pugh during a press conference at the Venice Film Festival, where the movie had its world premiere. There have been rumors that Pugh fell out with Wilde after the director began a romantic relationship with co-star Harry Styles during the production. There have also been rumors about a huge pay gap between Styles and Pugh. The movie’s release has also been bogged down by the controversy over how exactly Shia LaBeouf lost the role that went to Styles.
Pugh missed the press conference Monday, although she arrived in Venice to walk the red carpet and attend the film’s first screening. The official story explaining Pugh’s absence was her commitment to filming Dune 2 in Budapest, but her Dune co-star Timothee Chalamet had no problem doing a full press schedule for Bones & All over the weekend. Wilde praised Pugh’s performance in her film and also pointed to her Dune 2 commitments. She took a question about the rumored rift, but her answer didn’t really clear much up.
“As for all the endless tabloid gossip and all the noise out there, I mean, the Internet feeds itself,” Wilde said, reports The Hollywood Reporter. “I don’t feel the need to contribute. I think it’s sufficiently well nourished.” A THR journalist attempted to ask about the LaBeouf scandal, but a moderator shut it down, claiming Wilde “already answered that” with her reference to “Internet noise.”
Much of the attention centered around Don’t Worry Darling has nothing to do with the movie itself, which stars Pugh as a 1950s housewife who realizes that her perfect company town is really overseen by a cult. Instead, it’s all been about the behind-the-scenes strife and Wilde’s relationship with Pugh. The closest any of them came to making the rift clear came when Pugh voiced disapproval of the focus on the sex scenes in Don’t Worry Darling in the film’s promotional campaign.
“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,” Pugh told Harper’s Bazaar in what seemed to be a response to Wilde’s Variety interview on the movie. “It’s not why I’m in this industry…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.”
Wilde has also denied the rumor that Styles was paid over three times as much as Pugh. “There has been a lot out there that I largely don’t pay attention to. But the absurdity of invented clickbait and subsequent reaction regarding a nonexistent pay disparity between our lead and supporting actors really upset me,” Wilde wrote in an email to Variety. “I’m a woman who has been in this business for over 20 years, and it’s something that I have fought for myself and others, especially being a director. There is absolutely no validity to those claims.”
LaBeouf also has a role in the behind-the-scenes drama, even though he’s not in the final movie. He was originally cast in Styles’ role, but Wilde hinted that she fired LaBeouf in her Variety interview, partly because she wanted to make Pugh “feel safe.” LaBeouf later denied this, claiming he quit the movie on his own. A leaked 2020 video also showed Wilde appearing to ask him to change his mind and blaming Pugh for the situation.
Don’t Worry Darling also stars Chris Pine, Gemma Chan, Nick Kroll, Kiki Layne, and Wilde herself. It will also be shown at the Deauville American Film Festival and the San Sebastian International Film Festival. Warner Bros. Discovery will release the film on Sept. 23.