Excitement is building as ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ arrives in Venice

VENICE, Italy (AP) — The Venice Film Festival is buzzing with anticipation for Olivia Wilde’s “Don’t Worry Darling,” which makes its world premiere Monday night at the Lido.

There’s anticipation for the film itself, a mid-century psychological thriller with an all-star cast including Florence Pugh, Harry Styles and Chris Pine. There’s also the arrival of Styles, whose otherworldly reputation and following may bring on the fury of Timothée Chalamet on Friday they look completely graphic.

But it seems the most anticipated event is the film’s press conference on Monday evening. Behind-the-scenes drama rarely extends beyond insider industry gossip, but the question of what exactly went into the making of “Don’t Worry Darling” has become a source of worldwide intrigue. Rumors about everything from Shia LaBeouf leaving the film early to Pugh’s perceived lack of public support for the project on her social media accounts have been simmering on TikTok and twitter for some time now.

Wilde herself also became popular in the tabloids after the paparazzi caught her off-screen relationship with Styles. And then there was the CinemaCon moment, in which Wilde received custody papers from her ex, Jason Sudeikis, during a presentation about her film on stage in front of thousands of industry professionals and theater owners.

Then, in the last few weeks, all the little threads seemed to catch fire at once. Much of it was fueled by LaBeouf, who came out of the woodwork to dispute a two-year narrative that he had been fired from the project. Ultimately, the role went to Styles.

Wilde, in a Variety cover story, is not directly mentioned as having fired him. She offered: “His process was not conducive to the ethos I require in my productions. It has a process that somehow seems to require a combative energy and I personally don’t think it’s conducive to the best performances.”

In response, LaBeouf sent private emails, text messages and videos to Variety to prove his case that he did indeed quit due to a lack of rehearsal time. The video message, in which he tries to convince LaBeouf to stay on as Jack, was then leaked online.

LaBeouf, who will go to court next year over allegations of abuse by his ex, FKA twigs, also happens to be in Venice this year with the movie “Padre Pio.”

The leaked video also showed Wilde calling Pugh “Miss Flo,” which some saw as confirmation that the two were not on good terms. Wilde, for her part, was anything but intuitive about her lead role. In an interview with the Associated Press he spoke at length about Pugh’s extraordinary talent, saying that what she did with the role was “absolutely brilliant” and that the character of Alice is a “heroine for the ages”.

However, questions have been raised as to why Pugh hasn’t posted much about the film on her Instagram. He didn’t hype the trailer, nor did he say anything about the Venice entry. Adding fuel to the fire, The Wrap then reported that Pugh would limit her press appearances surrounding the film to Venice only. And on Sunday night, Variety broke the news that Pugh would not be attending the press conference either due to her tight travel schedule and her shift.

Pugh is in the middle of production on “Dune 2,” a huge blockbuster (also a Warner Bros. joint) and is expected to return immediately after her Venice duties. Chalamet, her “Dune 2” co-star, had a similarly short stay in Venice for his film “Bones and All.” It’s likely to be the only appearance he’ll make on behalf of this film, but no one wrote headlines about Chalamet “limiting” his press commitments.

The hope is that the press conference will answer or clarify lingering questions, shift attention back to the film itself, and maybe even generate more excitement for its release in theaters on September 23rd.

“This film is my love letter to films that push the limits of our imagination. It’s ambitious, but I think we’ve made something really special,” Wilde wrote in her director’s statement. “Imagine a life where you had everything you wanted, what it would take to give it up… Are you willing to dismantle the system designed to serve you?

Regardless, one thing’s for sure: Everyone’s talking about “Don’t Worry My Love.”

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Follow AP film writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

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For more on the Venice Film Festival, visit: www.apnews.com/VeniceFilmFestival

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