Olivia Wilde and the Saga of Don’t Worry Darling

Don’t Worry Darling is shaping up to be one of those movies where the story of its making is more interesting than the film itself. The main reason is Olivia Wilde, the actor-turned-director who appears to be a selfish weirdo so desperate for attention that she lied about one actor and alienated another. Or maybe she wanted to generate buzz for a movie she probably knew nobody would want to see by any means necessary, like a bratty middle child acting out because negative attention is still attention. Here’s the trailer to give you an idea of what most people will be missing:

Don’t Worry Darling looks like it was made for people who thought The Stepford Wives was too subtle. It’s your now-typical film about the evil patriarchy and victimized women who rise up to destroy the all-encompassing oppression of upper-class luxury. In an interview with Maggie Gyllenhaal (which… okay?), Wilde said that Chris Pine’s character, the villain of the movie, is based on Jordan Peterson, with Don’t Worry Darling being an attack on the incel community (“incel,” of course, being a term that means whatever the person using it wants it to mean at any given moment).

“We based that character on this insane man, Jordan Peterson, who is this pseudo-intellectual hero to the incel community… They’re basically disenfranchised, mostly white men, who believe they are entitled to sex from women… And they believe that society has now robbed them—that the idea of feminism is working against nature, and that we must be put back into the correct place… this guy, Jordan Peterson, is someone that legitimizes certain aspects of their movement… But it was a dream to work with all these evolved men on this movie who understood what we were trying to say.”

Sounds like a fun movie, doesn’t it? I’m sure all the guys who worked on Don’t Worry Darling appreciate their director talking about them like they’re trained dogs. But the larger point is that this is a film that wears its politics and social commentary on its sleeve, with Olivia Wilde still going out of her way to make it known whom she’s attacking and what she’s trying to say. And fine; make whatever movie you like. But she’s got to know that this isn’t the kind of thing that does well nowadays when people are avoiding woke stuff like the plague and cementing pictures like Top Gun: Maverick and Spider-Man: No Way Home in cinema history. This is Wilde’s second movie, her first being the hyped-to-hell flop Booksmart, and she’s poised to make another dud.

Then, there’s Florence Pugh. Pugh is the lead actress in Don’t Worry Darling, and the rumors – which are clearly true based on Pugh’s behavior during the publicity campaign – are that she and Wilde did not get along at all. The reason is said to be Wilde’s affair with Pugh’s co-star, Harry Styles; I’m sure Wilde disputes the dates, but it seems she was still with her former fiancé, Jason Sudeikis, when she started up with Styles, and Pugh happens to be friends with Sudeikis. There’s also talk that Pugh was paid significantly less than Styles, which Wilde denies (although how perfect would it be for woe-is-me-because-I’m-a-woman Olive Wilde to pay her lead actress less than her boyfriend?). Pugh has been all but absent from the promotional tour for Don’t Worry Darling, only showing up to the premiere at the Venice Film Festival (but skipping the press conference beforehand) and not so much as making eye contact with Wilde the whole time.

In a bit of what I can only assume was ill-conceived damage control, Wilde, when asked by Variety about Pugh’s animosity towards her, spun a tale about how she protected Pugh from Shia LaBeouf, who was initially going to play Styles’ role. She claimed to have fired LaBeouf because he “seems to require a combative energy,” and she wanted to create “a safe, trusting environment.” She also said of Pugh, “my priority was making her feel safe and making her feel supported.” She also mentions a lawsuit filed against LaBeouf by FKA Twigs, his former girlfriend, who claims he was abusive, which is probably why Wilde felt safe trying to sell this story.

And that’s what it mostly appears to be: a story. LaBeouf refuted Wilde’s claims in an email, saying he was never fired but quit because there was too little rehearsal time. And while Fox says sources claim he was fired, LaBeouf also released a video that shows Wilde asking him to stay aboard Don’t Worry Darling:


Evidently, the only truth in what Wilde told Variety is that LaBeouf and Pugh didn’t get along, but Wilde appears to blame Pugh – or “Miss Flo,” as Wilde calls her in the video. (By the way, in the Variety article, Wilde says Don’t Worry Darling is about Trump, not Jordan Peterson and incels; the patriarchy is a many-headed Hydra.) It seems like, as LaBeouf suggests in his email, Wilde threw him under the bus to promote her movie, as well as to deflect attention from the tension between her and Pugh, and she figured that LaBeouf wouldn’t fight back because he was in the middle of a Me Too scandal. But he did, and now Wilde has egg on her face… but at least people are talking about her and her movie, I suppose.

And she needs it. Remember those guaranteed critical accolades I talked about earlier? They’re not coming. Don’t Worry Darling is getting mostly negative reviews, indicating that it won’t even gain clout as an awards darling. In the current climate, can you imagine how bad a movie about feminism and the evil of men and the 1950s directed by a woman who shouts her wokeness into every megaphone she can find has to be to get negative reviews? These people think you’re evil if you don’t love She-Hulk.

And, lest we forget, there’s Chris Pine looking like he’s medically easing his pain during the Venice press conference – and may have been spit on by Harry Styles. (Pine vehemently denies this happened; watch the video below and judge for yourself):  

What a mess. For what it’s worth, I think Pugh is behaving immaturely (although she’s a phenomenal actress; check out the miniseries The Little Drummer Girl if you don’t mind a slow burn); I understand her hating Wilde’s guts, but this is a job, and part of it is promoting the movie. And Wilde sounds like an insufferable loon who must be a nightmare to be around for the length of a cup of coffee, let alone a four-month film shoot. If any of this is true (and I think most-to-all of it is), who would want to work with her now? She’ll make you uncomfortable, stab you in the back if it suits her, and the movie will not only bomb but be critically panned.

Although I guess there’s the hope that you’ll be the next Harry Styles.

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