A timeline of the behind-the-scenes controversies plaguing Don’t Worry Darling (2024)

A timeline of the behind-the-scenes controversies plaguing Don’t Worry Darling (1)

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On paper, Don’t Worry Darling should have been a surefire win.

The psychological thriller had, in Olivia Wilde, a buzzy up-and-coming director, fresh off the glowingly received teen comedy Booksmart.

In Florence Pugh, it had a young actor hailed as one of the very best of a generation, who had just been nominated for her first Oscar (for Little Women).

When it was announced that Pugh would be joined by Harry Styles, one of the biggest pop singers in the world, it seemed the film was all-but guaranteed to be a major box-office draw. So what went wrong?

As the film’s September release date has drawn ever closer, controversy surrounding the film has snowballed.

Rumours of on-set feuds, disputes around firings and questionable acting performances have seen many pundits brand Don’t Worry Darling a disaster waiting to happen.


  • The six most disastrous film press tours, from Don’t Worry Darling to War of the Worlds
  • Olivia Wilde clears up ‘baseless’ rumours of rivalry with Don’t Worry Darling star Florence Pugh
  • Harry Styles addresses viral Chris Pine ‘spitting’ video at Madison Square Garden show

Here’s a timeline of Don’t Worry Darling’s behind-the-scenes troubles...

July 2019 –The film is announced

Wilde was confirmed to be directing the film, from a story conceived by Carey and Shane Van Dyke. It was also suggested that Wilde was going to star in the project.

Early 2020 – Olivia Wilde splits from her long-term partner

At the beginning of the year, Wilde separated from her partner, Ted Lasso star Jason Sudeikis, with whom she shares two children.

The split wasn’t publically known until months later.

April 2020 – The cast is announced, including Shia LaBeouf

In the first major update since Don’t Worry Darling was announced, Wilde confirmed that Pugh had been cast alongside Shia LaBeouf and Chris Pine.

On Instagram, Pugh reacted enthusiastically to the news, describing Wilde as her “idol”.

September 2020 – Shia LaBeouf departs the project, and Harry Styles joins

For reasons that have since become the subject of some dispute (more on that later), LaBeouf left the film in September 2020.

A timeline of the behind-the-scenes controversies plaguing Don’t Worry Darling (3)

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It was suggested at the time that the reason for his departure was a scheduling conflict.

Stepping in to replace him was Styles. While he is best known for his pop career, as a solo artist and with the former boyband One Direction, Styles had in fact acted before, most notably in a small role in Christopher Nolan’s epic war movie Dunkirk.

December 2020 – LaBeouf is sued for abuse by FKA twigs

Near the end of the year, the musician FKA twigs, a former girlfriend of LaBeouf, filed a lawsuit against the actor alleging “relentless abuse” including sexual battery, assault, and infliction of emotional distress. He later denied “each and every” claim.

At the time, it was also alleged that LaBeouf had in fact been fired from the production of Don’t Worry Darling with Variety citing insiders who claimed that he had “exhibited poor behavior” and that his style “clashed with the cast and crew, including Wilde”.

January 2021 – Wilde and Styles are reported to be dating

The director and her leading man were pictured holding hands while attending a wedding, sparking a flurry of reports that they were romantically involved.

The supposed relationship was not confirmed to the media by either party at the time.

February 2021 – Filming wraps

Members of the cast and crew mark the occasion on Instagram. Wilde is particularly effusive in her praise of Styles, writing: “Not only did he relish the opportunity to allow for the brilliant @florencepugh to hold center stage as our ‘Alice’, but he infused every scene with a nuanced sense of humanity.

“He didn’t have to join our circus, but he jumped on board with humility and grace, and blew us away every day with his talent, warmth, and ability to drive backwards.”

Wilde’s remarks about Styles drew some criticism, with many questioning why she was praising him simply for conceding the lead role to the Oscar-nominated Pugh.

April 2022 – Wilde is served custody papers while on stage

While introducing a clip of the film at an event in Las Vegas, Wilde was served custody papers by Sudeikis in front of a crowd.

She was handed an envelope marked “private and confidential” by an unknown person. After opening and scanning it on stage, she resumed her speech, later revealing to press that the envelope had in fact contained Sudeikis’s legal filing.

11 August 2022 – Wilde praises Pugh on Instagram

In the year and a half since filming wrapped, speculation had gradually grown on social media surrounding a supposed feud between Pugh and Wilde. Some followers had pointed to a lack of Don’t Worry Darling-related social media activity on Pugh’s part as an indication that she was beginning to distance herself from the film.

In a glowing social media post, Wilde said it was a “f***ing thrill” to watch Pugh work. The post was not shared or “liked” by Pugh, prompting further speculation among followers.

She did, however, share her own post about the film shortly after.

16 August 2022 – Pugh discusses the film in an interview

In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Pugh discussed the film, but some fans observed a conspicuous lack of discussion about either Wilde or Styles. She did, however, discuss the movie’s sex scenes, which had previously been championed by Wilde.

“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,” said the actor. “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,” she continued. “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.”

24 August 2022 – Wilde praises Pugh, denies rumours of a pay disparity

In an interview with Variety, Wilde lavished praise on Pugh once again, describing her as “extraordinary” and “clearly the most exciting young actress working today”.

She also denied rumours that Styles had been paid three times Pugh’s salary for his work on the film.

“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,” she told the publication.

She also rubbished talk of a feud, claiming: “Tabloid media is a tool to pit women against one another and to shame them.”

24 August 2022 –Wilde says she fired LaBeouf to “protect” the stars

In an interview, Wilde claimed that she fired LaBeouf from the production to help ensure that Pugh felt “safe”.

“I say this as someone who is such an admirer of his work,” she said. “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.

She continued: “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.”

26 August 2022 – LaBeouf denies he was fired, shares video of Wilde

Just days after this interview was given, LaBeouf denied Wilde’s claims, saying that he had left the production of his own accord as he was unable to “find time to rehearse” with the other cast members.

He sent screenshots of his email and text exchanges with Wilde to Variety, as well as a video of Wilde apparently trying to convince LaBeouf to stay attached to the project.

In the footage, which leaked online, Wilde is seen saying that she is “heartbroken” over LaBeouf’s exit.

“You know, I think this might be a bit of a wake-up call for Miss Flo,” she says, seemingly referring to Pugh.

“I want to know if you’re open to giving this a shot with me, with us. If she really commits, if she really puts her mind and heart into it at this point and if you guys can make peace – and I respect your point of view, I respect hers – but if you guys can do it, what do you think? Is there hope? Will you let me know?”

5 September 2022 – Olivia Wilde and cast arrive at Venice film festival

Talk around the film reached fever pitch ahead of Venice film festival, where Wilde, Styles, Pugh and other members of the Don’t Worry Darling cast were in attendance. Eyebrows were raised when it emerged that Pugh would not be attending the press conference. It was later clarified that this was because her flight landed after the fact, and she would be attending the red carpet event with her director and co-stars.

That doesn’t mean the first day at Venice was free from controversy. A reporter claimed he was told not to ask Wilde questions about LaBoeuf during the press conference. Wilde also gave a conveniently vague answer when asked about rumours of a feud between her and Pugh, rather than quashing them outright.

Pugh arrived in Venice to attend the premiere of the film later that night. While appearing on the red carpet on Monday (5 September) evening, Pugh appeared to hint at the discord when asked by a journalist what she found “inspiring” in the film.

“I think it’s very very inspiring to see a woman push back and say ‘no’, and question everything” she replied. “It’s very exciting to see a woman do that on and off camera.”

5 September 2022 – Olivia Wilde and Florence Pugh’s stylists wade in on the drama

The stylists for Pugh and Wilde appear to have both waded into the drama with their clients.

Karla Welch, a Los Angeles-based stylist who frequently works with Wilde, shared a story on Instagram last night that apparently was in reference to the speculation.

“There’s always more to the story…” the stylist wrote at the same time as reporting on the rumoured feud was escalating.

Welch’s post came around the same time as Florence Pugh’s stylist, who called the actor “Miss Flo” in an Instagram post that was an apparent jibe at Wilde.

6 September 2022 – clips of Chris Pine “checking out” of the premiere go viral

Clips of Pine apparently zoning out during the press conference for the film and at the premiere later that evening have gone viral.

One clip which has caught the attention of fans sees the actor sat alongside his co-star Harry Styles. The camera zooms in on Pine’s face as Styles gives a somewhat convoluted answer to a reporter’s question.

“Proof that Chris Pine is a good actor – he didn’t make a ‘what the f*** is this idiot on about’ face or burst into hysterical laughter listening to his co-star answer (if you can call it that) this question,” said someone else.

The Star Trek actor was also seen putting on sunglasses for the premiere of his film later that night. “Chris Pine putting on his sunglasses as the lights cut… oh that man is taking a nap,” wrote one person alongside a clip.

6 September 2022 – Viral video sparks claims Harry Styles ‘spat’ at Chris Pine at premiere

In a video taken at the festival, posted by Twitter user JZMaclin, Styles supposedly “appears to spit” on Pine while taking his assigned seat next to the actor, who then looks down at his lap and stops clapping.

Since the video clip was posted online early Tuesday morning (6 September), it has received over 5.5 million views, with many fans claiming Styles “definitely did” spit on his co-actor.

Other viewers have dismissed the “spitting” claim and said it is more likely that the pair were joking around.

Sources close to Pine and Styles, however, have told The Independent that the spitting claims were untrue.

A rep for Pine told People that the clip was nothing more than an “odd online illusion”.

Ongoing – clips of Styles’s acting circulate on TikTok

In recent weeks, clips from the film and its trailer have circulated on the video messaging platform Tiktok.

Fans have weighed in on the performances, with many criticising Styles’s line delivery and seemingly inconsistent accent in the pre-released material, while praising Pugh.

Don’t Worry Darling is out in cinemas on 23 September.

Greetings, I'm an industry enthusiast with a keen understanding of the intricate dynamics within the realm of filmmaking and the associated challenges. Over the years, I've closely followed the careers of directors, actors, and the production processes behind cinematic endeavors. My insights stem from a deep passion for the art of storytelling on the big screen, and my knowledge extends beyond the glamour to the often tumultuous behind-the-scenes aspects.

Now, diving into the article about "Don't Worry Darling," let's dissect the key concepts:

  1. Film Background:

    • The movie is a psychological thriller directed by Olivia Wilde, known for her previous success with the teen comedy "Booksmart."
    • Stars Florence Pugh, recognized as one of the best young actors of her generation, and Harry Styles, a prominent pop singer transitioning into acting.
  2. Controversies and Behind-the-Scenes Troubles:

    • July 2019: Film announced with Wilde as director and star.
    • Early 2020: Olivia Wilde splits from her partner, Jason Sudeikis.
    • April 2020: Cast announcement, including Shia LaBeouf.
    • September 2020: LaBeouf departs, and Harry Styles joins, allegedly due to scheduling conflicts.
    • December 2020: LaBeouf faces abuse allegations from FKA twigs.
    • January 2021: Wilde and Styles are rumored to be dating.
    • February 2021: Filming wraps with praise for Styles and controversy over Wilde's remarks.
    • April 2022: Wilde served custody papers on stage.
    • August 11, 2022: Wilde praises Pugh on Instagram amid speculation of a feud.
    • August 16, 2022: Pugh discusses the film in an interview, avoiding discussion about Wilde or Styles.
    • August 24, 2022: Wilde denies pay disparity rumors and praises Pugh; Wilde claims she fired LaBeouf to protect the stars.
    • August 26, 2022: LaBeouf denies being fired, shares video of Wilde trying to convince him to stay.
    • September 5, 2022: Film cast attends Venice Film Festival; controversies arise, including rumors about questions not to ask Wilde and vague responses about a feud.
    • September 6, 2022: Clips of Chris Pine at the premiere go viral, sparking claims of Harry Styles spitting on him (later debunked); ongoing circulation of clips critiquing Styles's acting on TikTok.
  3. Public and Stylist Reactions:

    • August 24, 2022: Wilde denies rumors of a feud, and stylists for Pugh and Wilde weigh in on social media.
    • September 6, 2022: Stylists continue to contribute to the drama.
  4. Public Reception and Social Media Trends:

    • Ongoing: Videos circulating on TikTok criticize Harry Styles's acting, praising Florence Pugh.
  5. Release Information:

    • The film is set to be released on September 23, 2022, amid significant public attention and controversy.

In conclusion, the article paints a vivid picture of the roller-coaster journey behind the creation of "Don't Worry Darling," from casting challenges to rumors and controversies involving the cast and crew, particularly highlighting the relationships and dynamics among Olivia Wilde, Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, and Shia LaBeouf. The ongoing social media buzz and public reception, both positive and critical, further add to the intrigue surrounding the film's release.

A timeline of the behind-the-scenes controversies plaguing Don’t Worry Darling (2024)


What is the controversy surrounding Don't Worry Darling? ›

Summary. Tension between Florence Pugh and Olivia Wilde during the filming of Don't Worry Darling led to speculation of a feud. Shia LaBeouf's departure from the movie added to the controversy, with conflicting stories of whether he was fired or quit.

What was the behind the scenes drama of don t worry darling? ›

The first rumblings of behind-the-scenes drama on Don't Worry Darling centered around Florence Pugh and her lack of publicity for the film. In the past, Pugh has been known to promote her upcoming roles via social media, however aside from a few comments she's remained pretty silent about Don't Worry Darling.

What are the inappropriate scenes in Don't Worry Darling? ›

Sex, Romance & Nudity. Extensive visual modeling of one character pleasuring another sexually. No sensitive body parts are shown, but a man's head and hand are shown between a woman's legs in the two respective scenes, and she exhibits a strong org*smic reaction.

What's the deeper meaning behind don't worry darling? ›

The reveal is this: Everyone in Victory is living in a simulation designed by Frank, who in our real (present-day) world is an incel-like cult leader who has brainwashed men to pay him to live in a virtual-reality simulation of the 1950s. (Wilde has compared Frank to Jordan Peterson.)

Why did Florence Pugh not get along with Olivia Wilde? ›

Rumblings of bad blood between the actresses have been bubbling for months. Sources previously alleged to Page Six that Pugh was “unhappy” with Wilde over her on-set affair with her co-star Harry Styles because the filmmaker was still dating Jason Sudeikis at the time.

Why are reviews on don t Worry Darling so bad? ›

Don't Worry Darling Reviews

Despite great chemistry between Pine and Pugh and amazing production & costume design, the obvious and nonsensical plot and Harry Styles' unconvincing performance ultimately sinks the film. Also: Why is this 2 hours long?!

What was the original ending of don t worry darling supposed to be? ›

"Don't Worry Darling" Original Ending

When Alice wakes up, she's back in the simulation, only this time in the hospital, and the doctors explain that she's suffered a psychotic break, sending her home with pills.

Why didn t Alice escape the first time? ›

A: She probably did escape the simulation that first time, but Jack was there to force her back in. This is why he's being so ferociously nice to her when she “wakes up” back at home.

What happened to Margaret in Don't Worry Darling? ›

Margaret slashes her throat early in the film and disappears. She either died by suicide in real life or found that killing herself was the only way to escape the simulation.

What is the scariest part of don t worry darling? ›

The 10 Most Unsettling Moments In Don't Worry Darling
  • Stepford Wives. Warner Bros. ...
  • Unexplained plane crash. Warner Bros. ...
  • Alice's Wonderland. Warner Bros. ...
  • Margaret's tragic fate. Warner Bros. ...
  • Frank comes to dinner. Warner Bros. ...
  • Abduction of Alice. Warner Bros. ...
  • The Victory Project. Warner Bros. ...
  • The final chase. Warner Bros.
Sep 26, 2022

What is the problem with don t Worry Darling movie? ›

The movie takes too long to explain what is happening, when it does explain it, it makes no sense, every scene is too long, all the actors are performing like they are in different movies, the ending is absurd, so much is left unexplained, Harry Styles' performance is dreadful, and that's probably just half the ...

Was Don t Worry Darling a bad movie? ›

Despite an intriguing array of talent on either side of the camera, Don't Worry Darling is a mostly muddled rehash of overly familiar themes. The ending isn't for everyone, but the cast -- especially Florence Pugh -- helps Don't Worry Darling make the most of a story with fairly few surprises.

Why did Alice wrap her head in Saran Wrap? ›

When Alice wraps her head in saran wrap to perhaps test her mortality, when she is crushed by a wall while cleaning the window, when she cracks eggs that turn out to be empty, and even the fake plane crash.

Was peg actually pregnant in don t worry darling? ›

Chief among those clues is Bunny's off-hand remark that her friend Peg (Kate Berlant) is "always pregnant." Taken at face value, it's a kind of humorous exaggeration. However, Peg also drinks heavily throughout the film, further implying she isn't really pregnant.

Did Frank sleep with Alice? ›

[Spoiler Warning] At a dinner party, Frank claims that he and Alice slept together. It's the only indication of such an encounter during the film, and everyone—including Alice—seems shocked at the accusation. But she also doesn't deny it.

What's so scary about don't worry darling? ›

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Don't Worry Darling has some scenes that could scare or disturb children aged 5-8 years. For example, Alice often has nightmares and visions in which she sees swirling patterns and scary-looking characters.

What did Dakota Johnson do in Don't Worry Darling? ›

Dakota Johnson would have played the role of Margaret

It's possible that Johnson dodged a career bullet, however, considering all the drama surrounding "Don't Worry Darling." Additionally, the erstwhile character Margaret had many scenes cut from the final movie, as Layne eventually revealed on Instagram.

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