The long, messy history of Don’t Worry Darling, from rumoured feuds to Harry Styles’ ‘spit-gate’

Don't Worry Darling cast

Olivia Wilde’s new film Don’t Worry Darling has been making headlines for months for its behind the screen drama. 

And things have finally come to a head at the Venice Film Festival during premiere of the film, which stars Harry Styles and Florence Pugh. 

So strap in because here is the full history of the drama behind the headlines, and gossip that has plagued the whole Don’t Worry Darling two-year production. From film director Wilde fielding scandalous allegations, to Styles allegedly spitting on co-star Chris Pine

Shia LeBeouf

Let’s cast our minds back to April 2020 and the beginning of the rocky journey Don’t Worry Darling was about to make.  

The cast was announced with Shia LeBeouf, Florence Pugh and Chris Pine leading the dystopian 50s sci-fi.

In September of that year, LeBeouf was dropped from the film due to “scheduling conflicts” and replaced by Harry Styles, completing the current cast.

In December of that year two of LeBeouf’s ex-girlfriends, FKA Twigs and Karolyn Pho filed a lawsuit against the actor citing physical, emotional and sexual abuse. 

This fuelled speculation about the reasons behind why LeBeouf stepped back from the film, with a report in Variety claiming he was dropped from the film due to “poor behaviour” although both LeBeouf and Wilde declined to comment. 

Fast forward to August 2022, and in her cover story with Variety, Wilde once more addressed the rumours regarding LeBeouf’s departure. 

She said: “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.”

However, LeBeouf rebutted this claim telling Variety he “quit the film due to lack of rehearsal time” and forwarded emails he had sent to Wilde stating: “You and I both know the reasons for my exit. I quit your film because your actors and I couldn’t find time to rehearse.”

Finally, during the Don’t Worry Darling press conference at the Venice Film Festival, when a Variety journalist attempted to follow up, the moderator simply replied “it’s on the internet”.

Harry Styles and Olivia Wilde

Harry Styles and Olivia Wilde at Venice Film Festival for Don't Worry Darling Premier (Getty)

Harry Styles and Olivia Wilde at Venice Film Festival. (Getty)

Two months after Harry Styles joined the production, Wilde announced she and her fiancé of seven years had split up earlier that year and were now co-parenting. 

This was the same month she said to People: “To me, he’s [Styles] very modern, and I hope that this brand of confidence as a male that Harry has — truly devoid of any traces of toxic masculinity — is indicative of his generation and therefore the future of the world.

“I think he is in many ways championing that, spearheading that. It’s pretty powerful and kind of extraordinary to see someone in his position redefining what it can mean to be a man with confidence.”

In January 2021, with neither Styles or Wilde in a relationship, TMZ reported they attended a wedding together and were spotted holding hands. This was backed up by a source who told People: “What started out as a close friendship quickly turned romantic.

“Everyone saw it coming. During breaks, he wasn’t able to stay away and visited her trailer.”

And thus, the dating rumours began. Since then consistent sources have told Entertainment Tonight Styles and Wilde are “so happy”, and have enjoyed “one-on-one time” in the UK.

However, since the Venice Film Festival, suspicions have arisen about whether they are still dating as they appeared to choose not to sit together or even spend any time together.

This comes alongside constant criticism from Harry Styles stans about their relationship, which Wilde has previously addressed saying: “I don’t personally believe the hateful energy defines his fan base at all. The majority of them are true champions of kindness,” as reported by Rolling Stone.

Florence Pugh and Olivia Wilde ‘feud’

While rumours swirled about Styles and Wilde’s relationship, the media were also reporting on a burgeoning feud between Pugh and Wilde. 

The rumours began when Pugh seemed to do very little promotion of the film on her social media compared with her co-stars, finally posting about it on her Instagram three weeks ago. 

At the same time, further rumours circulated that Pugh was being paid three times less than Styles. 

In an interview with Variety Wilde quashed both the claims saying: “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. 

“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.”

Although Pugh has not specifically addressed the alleged feud, she has spoken out on media coverage of the film during an interview with Harper’s Bazaar.

She said:  “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.

“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.”

Although Pugh was not able to attend the Venice Film Festival press conference due to filming conflicts with Dune, Wilde addressed the rumoured beef by saying: “I can’t say enough how honoured I am to have her as our lead. She’s amazing in the film and as for all the endless tabloid gossip and all the noise out there, I mean, the internet feeds itself. I don’t feel the need to contribute, I think it’s sufficiently well nourished.”

However, things weren’t helped when Florence seemingly refused to even look at Wilde during the four-minute standing ovation after the film finished its premiere.

Some have criticised the reporting of the feud between Wilde and Pugh’s relationship as misogyny. It is a common trope to see popular women in the media pitted against each other and their interactions over analysed in a way male filmmakers do not receive.  

How is Chris Pine involved in all this?

After a video of Harry Styles supposedly spitting on Chris Pine sent fans into a frenzy, the actor was quickly swept into the tangled backstage drama. 
While it’s not believed Styles actually spat on Pine, the joke was too good for fans to not run with.

Some began joking that since he had previously spoken well of Pugh and was stanning her on the red carpet, Pine had clearly chosen a side Styles did not approve of. 

This is likely not true, although others have speculated that the seating arrangement at the premiere, which saw co-stars Gemma Chan and Pine sitting in between Wilde, Styles and Pugh, is suspicious. 
And of course who can forget all the memes of Chris Pine simply observing and zoning out from the chaos unfolding around him.

Conclusion? With so much as yet unconfirmed all we can do is catch Don’t Worry Darling in UK cinemas on 23 September.