Everything you need to know about the drama behind the scenes

Harry Styles and Florence Pugh in an intimate moment from Olivia Wilde’s sophomore film, Don’t worry dear. (Photo: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)

While steamy trailers for Olivia Wilde’s second directorial feature, Don’t worry dear, have intrigued the Internet, the behind-the-scenes drama surrounding the film is even more grim. For months, rumors have swirled about a possible feud between Wilde and the film’s star Florence Pugh, as well as the circumstances that led the director to replace original star Shia LaBeouf with Harry Styles – who she is now dating.

Wilde addressed LaBeouf’s departure in a recent interview Variety, claiming she fired him after she felt his particular acting process wouldn’t translate into a “safe, trusting environment.” This sparked the controversy Transformers star to issue his own version of events, suggesting he left the production due to “lack of rehearsal time.”

With Don’t worry dear is set to make its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 5th, followed by its theatrical release on September 23rd. Here’s everything you need to know about this developing story.

What is Don’t worry dear about?

  • Based on an original story by brothers Carey and Shane Van Dyke (grandsons of legendary film and television actor Dick Van Dyke), Don’t worry dear appears to be a cross between The Stepford Wives and The Truman Showwith Pugh and Styles playing Alice and Jack Chambers — a perfect couple in an immaculate 1950s suburban community.

  • But as the trailers reveal, something is amiss in this town, and Alice gradually realizes that her reality may not be so real after all.

  • Appearing at CinemaCon earlier this year, Wilde compared the film to Christopher Nolan’s Inception and Lana and Lilly Wachowski Matrix movie theater. “It’s my love letter to the movies that crossed the line of ambition,” he said. “What are you willing to sacrifice to do what is right? Are you willing to dismantle the system designed to serve you?”

Olivia Wilde directs Chris Pine on the set of Don't Worry Darling.  (Photo: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)

Olivia Wilde directs Chris Pine on set Don’t worry dear. (Photo: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)

Who was in the original cast?

  • said Wilde Variety that she was originally set to play Alice when Warner Bros greenlit the film, with Pugh playing Alice’s best friend Bunny. They ended up switching roles after the director decided he wanted the film to focus on a younger couple. (Pugh is 26 and Wilde is 38).

  • Shia LaBeouf, 36, joined the film in spring 2020 as Jack, alongside Chris Pine as the town’s unofficial “mayor,” Frank. Dakota Johnson was also cast at the same time, but ended up leaving the production, with Gemma Chan and KiKi Layne coming in to replace her.

  • In August 2020, LaBeouf left the film with “scheduling conflicts” cited as the initial reason. Styles, 28, replaced him as Jack in September and production began in October. Wilde and Styles were first photographed holding hands in January 2021, two months after she announced her split from Jason Sudeikis.

  • In December 2020, LaBeouf was sued by ex-girlfriend, musician and actress FKA Twigs, who reported multiple instances of physical, emotional and mental abuse.

What did Wilde say about LaBeouf leaving?

  • Talking to me VarietyThe Don’t worry dear director reported that she parted ways with the actor due to concern over his working methods. “I say this as someone who is such an admirer of his work. His process was not conducive to the ethos I require in my productions. He has a process that, in some ways, seems to require a combative energy, and I don’t personally believe that it’s conducive to the best performances. I believe that creating a safe environment of trust is the best way to get people to do their best work. Ultimately, it’s my responsibility to the production and the cast to protect them. That was the my job”.

  • Wilde also noted that he was “troubled” when he learned more about LaBeouf’s private life. “A lot came to light after that that really troubled me, in terms of his behavior. I find myself really wishing him well and moving forward because I believe in restorative justice. But for our film, what we really needed was an energy that Especially with a film like this, I knew I was going to ask Florence to be in very vulnerable situations, and my priority was to make her feel safe and make her feel supported.”

SANTA MONICA, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Shia LaBeouf attends the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards - Arrivals on February 8, 2020 in Santa Monica, California.  (Photo by David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Shia LaBeouf attends the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

What did LaBeouf say about why he left the movie?

  • After Wilde’s interview, LaBeouf reached out Variety to offer a different account, as well as provide email, screenshots of text messages and a video. In an email addressed to Wilde, the actor wrote: “I am a little confused by the narrative that I was fired. You and I know the reasons for my departure. I quit your film because your actors and I could not find time to rehearse.” .

  • In a text message allegedly sent by Wilde on August 16, 2020, the director said she was “red-faced” by LaBeouf’s decision to step down Don’t worry dear. “I’m honored that you were willing to go there with me, to tell you a story.”

  • Wilde reportedly followed up that text message with a video message to LaBeouf on August 19, 2020, in which she seemed eager to get him back on board. “I feel like I’m not ready to give up yet,” she said. “I’m heartbroken too and I want to understand.”

  • This video also suggested a possible creative feud between Pugh, LaBeouf and Wilde. “You know, I think this might be a bit of a wake-up call for Miss Flo, and I want to know if you’re ready to do it with me, with us,” Wilde reportedly said. “If she really commits, if she really puts her mind and heart into it at this point and if you can make peace — and I respect your point of view, I respect hers — but if you can do it, what do I think?”

  • LaBeouf ended his email to Wilde by asking her to “correct the narrative” she offered Variety. “I hope none of this affects you negatively and that your film is successful in all the ways you want it to be.”

Why is the Internet convinced that Pugh and Wilde are fighting?

  • When the trailer for the film premiered earlier this year, Pugh’s fans noticed that she didn’t share it on her busy social media feeds, but instead promoted the poster for one of her other films, Christopher Nolan’s. Oppenheimer. (Pugh has since shared the poster for Don’t worry dear on Instagram.)

  • In July, the New York PostPage Six circulated rumors claiming that Pugh was unhappy about Wilde and Styles’ relationship. “I can tell you for sure that Flo seeing Olivia and Harry on top of each other on set didn’t go down well,” a source said.

  • It was also rumored that Styles was paid more than three times Pugh’s salary in the film, although Wilde disputed that Variety interview. “The absurdity of the contrived clickbait and subsequent backlash about a non-existent pay gap between our leads and supporting actors has really upset me. I’m a woman who’s been in this business for over 20 years and it’s something I have fight for myself and Others, especially as a director. There is absolutely no validity to these claims.”

  • Talking to me Variety, Wilde tried to quash any further rumors of a feud with Pugh, insisting that he “made a mess” of the actress. Pugh declined to comment for the story.

Don’t worry dear opens September 23 in theaters.

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