Who Actually Directed Don’t Worry Darling?

Last year’s Don’t Worry Darling, Olivia Wilde’s bomb about something-something-totally-not-a-StepfordWives-ripoff, became famous more for its behind-the-scenes turmoil than the film itself. Wilde didn’t get along with the star of the movie, Florence Pugh, the latter of whom didn’t do any press for it. She was also having an affair with Harry Syles, Pugh’s co-star, which fostered a bad atmosphere on the set. But the full story is still coming out in dribs and drabs, and the ramifications of Wilde’s dalliance with Styles had a much more immediate impact on the production, according to World of Reel’s Jordan Ruimy. There was a rumor going around – which I hadn’t heard – that while Wilde and Styles were off… let’s say “playing Scrabble,” Pugh actually took over Wilde’s directing duties. But Ruimy got an email from “a producer” who told him that it wasn’t just Pugh who directed in Wilde’s absence but also Matthew Libatique, the film’s director of photography.

This does seem more likely than Pugh, who’s only ever been an actress, directing alone; Libatique has amassed quite a career for himself, working as DP for directors like Spike Lee, Joel Schumacher, Darren Aronofsky, and Jon Favreau (on both of his Iron Man movies). I’m sure he knows his way around a movie set, so if someone had to step in for a director who’s behaving like a high school kid, he’s a good candidate. The producer did tell Ruimy that Pugh helped run the set, and that’s good of her; somebody’s got to take responsibility, and since she’s the lead, I can see people, particularly the rest of the cast, looking to her. As the producer tells it to Ruimy, Libatique planned the shots and kept filming as close to Wilde’s vision as he could while Pugh took charge elsewhere. When Wilde returned, presumably with matted hair and a goofy smile, she simply resumed command and never acknowledged the people who did her job for her, which led to a shouting match between her and Pugh.

Olivia Wilde sounds like a real piece of work. It’s amusing that she makes such a big deal about advancing female directors – even using it as a guilt-spreading technique to sell her films – but behaves like an irresponsible child ruled by her hormones, which does wonders for the perception of women as filmmakers. Fortunately, she’s full of it, and there have been great female directors over the years. (People will bring up Kathryn Bigelow, Mary Harron, Nora Ephron, Nancy Myers, Amy Heckerling, and Sofia Coppola, but the hell with that – a woman directed Wayne’s World, and that’s all the proof I need.) But imagine the arrogance and sense of entitlement it takes to cast yourself as the champion of women filmmakers and then conduct yourself this way. No responsibility, no passion, no respect for the people taking pay cuts to work on your small film, just selfishness, burning loins, and the assumption that everyone will protect you because you’re a woman who says the right things about social issues.

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