I’m over “darling, I’m worried!” puns. There was a brief window in which they worked, but that period has long since passed. What I’m not over, however, is the enduring gossip surrounding Don’t Worry Darling, and I will not know peace until I hear exactly what happened on that set and what has gone down between the cast members.
Luckily for me, the incessant news cycle continues: “Sources” dropped Rolling Stone a few breadcrumbs of new insight into DWD’s onset dynamics in a piece published Wednesday. “It’s shocking to me that all this is going on,” an anonymous person involved with the film told RS. “I never noticed one second of tension on that set. Not one second.”
To back up a bit before I continue, in case you’ve somehow avoided this gossip, here is a synopsis of what’s going on: Earlier this summer, as promotion for Don’t Worry Darling (directed by Olivia Wilde, erstwhile fiancé of Jason Sudeikis aka Mr. Ted Lasso himself) ramped up, fans began noticing that the star of the film, Florence Pugh, was not talking about it on Instagram, even as a) she promoted her other upcoming projects, and b) Wilde heaped praise upon Pugh’s performance. Speculation swirled that Pugh disapproved of Wilde taking up with Harry Styles, who plays Pugh’s husband, and who began dating Wilde at some point during the production of the film. This past weekend, Don’t Worry Darling premiered at the Venice Film Festival, and Pugh, Wilde, and Styles did not pose next to each other on the red carpet, did not sit next to each other in the theater, and appeared to barely speak or make eye contact. Pugh was gracious during the standing ovation the film received, yet cut it short by leaving early. Co-stars Nick Kroll and Chris Pine’s natural charisma did a lot of heavy lifting, and the sixth glossy name attached to the film, Gemma Chan, remained admirably above the fray. There was also some internet discussion as to whether Styles spit on Pine, but both men’s reps adamantly denied the allegation.
Which brings us back to the Rolling Stone report, whose headline focuses on the fact that Pugh will not attend the New York City premiere of the film later this month, while everyone else will. The official reason is that she’s shooting the Dune sequel in Budapest. Dune’s shooting schedule was also the reason given for Pugh not appearing at the DWD press conference in Venice, which I’d buy if she’d only appeared on the red carpet for the premiere and didn’t have time for looking louche in Valentino loungewear, Aperol spritz in hand. (To be clear, I do not begrudge her this; it’s the most aspirational vibe I’ve ever seen.) Also, Timothée Chalamet, another top-billed Dune cast member, managed to escape the set for a long weekend in Venice.
The most interesting Rolling Stone quotes, however, were those that sought to downplay any rumors of an onset feud. While one person said that, if Wilde “cheated on [Sudeikis] with Harry Styles, and [Pugh] knew about it, I could see that being a thing,” the sources’ overall tenor suggested that production of DWD was amicable.
“Do I think [Wilde] and [Pugh] hate each other? Absolutely not. Was it fun and enjoyable on set? Absolutely,” another source said, adding that Wilde and Styles never conducted their relationship in an unprofessional manner.
One Rolling Stone source also made a cogent point that I think has gotten lost in this kerfuffle: “No one would be talking about this if this was a male director.”
Now, I’m not entirely sure if that’s true in 2022. Our parameters for what constitutes inappropriate behavior in the overlapping worlds of the film industry and celebrity dating have shifted—take last week, when jokes about Leonardo DiCaprio’s inability to date a woman over the age of 25 were a dime a dozen. But it’s a compelling point regardless: Older male artists in positions of power have begun dating their younger co-stars/employees/muses for centuries. As a fan of both Pugh’s and Wilde’s, I can only hope that a sexist double standard isn’t responsible for this frostiness.
And as for what is responsible...perhaps it was something that happened after production wrapped? Maybe Pugh actually hates Styles? (God forbid—I’m so sorry to put that idea into your mind.) I still have approximately 400 questions about this film (and not about the plot itself, though I will certainly be seeing it opening weekend), but I’m intrigued that at least one person has decided the “all press is good press” strategy is no longer beneficial, even if it was just this handful of onset sources.
One thing I know for sure is that the speculative masses will not rest until someone intimately involved in the drama puts out a statement on the record nipping it all in the bud. Gemma Chan does not deserve this.