Earlier this month, speculation that Florence Pugh and Olivia Wilde fell out while working together on Don’t Worry Darling came to a head when the entire cast reunited at the movie’s seriously awkward Venice Film Festival premiere.
The uncomfortable event appeared to all but confirm the swirling rumors, with Florence pointedly avoiding Olivia throughout the night after choosing to skip a joint press conference earlier that day.
But to truly understand the nuance of the stars’ behavior at the premiere, we need to go back to February 2021 — when the first hint that all was not well between the two women came to light.
This is when work on Don’t Worry Darling wrapped, and Florence — who plays lead character Alice — paid tribute to various crew members from the shoot in a lengthy Instagram caption as she shared a selection of behind-the-scenes photos.
Fans quickly noticed that the film’s director, Olivia, was not mentioned at all in the post, and since then Florence has appeared reluctant to discuss the movie in any capacity and barely posted about it on her very active social media page.
It was also noted that Florence had completely ignored a post that Olivia had made honoring her work on the movie.
But things didn’t get really messy until last month, when Florence and Olivia gave interviews that directly contradicted each other’s views on Don’t Worry Darling.
Speaking to Harper’s Bazaar in August, Florence admitted that she was not happy with the hypersexualized way that the movie was being marketed, with specific reference to a graphic sex scene that was included in its trailer.
But Olivia had previously told Vogue that depicting female pleasure onscreen was one of her priorities when making the film, and was obviously thrilled when the trailer’s sex scene was praised by the Clit Test for “showing how it’s done.”
Speaking to Variety shortly after Florence’s interview came out, Olivia opposed her leading lady’s stance by insisting that the sex scenes were “integral” to the storyline after she’d boasted to the publication that “men don’t come in this film.”
“Female pleasure, the best versions of it that you see nowadays, are in queer films,” Olivia added. “Why are we more comfortable with female pleasure when it’s two women on film? In hetero sex scenes in film, the focus on men as the recipients of pleasure is almost ubiquitous.”
Another strain to the feud involves Shia LaBeouf, who was originally cast opposite Florence back in 2020. He abruptly left the project before filming began and was replaced with Harry Styles.
While working together on the film, Olivia and Harry struck up a romantic relationship, which was reported to have made Florence feel “uncomfortable.” It has also been claimed that Florence was left to direct parts of the movie herself because Olivia was so distracted by Harry.
In addition to this, Olivia has repeatedly claimed that she chose to let Shia go from the film because Florence was not happy working with him and she has a strict “no assholes” policy on set.
Last month, she told Variety that Shia had “a combative energy,” so she let him go from the project in order to “protect” Florence and make her feel “safe.”
But just days after the interview was published, Shia retaliated by providing Variety with a series of receipts that seemingly proved that he had chosen to leave Don’t Worry Darling because he felt he didn’t have enough time to rehearse.
The evidence included a video message that Olivia had sent to him, where she begged him to reconsider his decision to quit as she referred to Florence as “Miss Flo” and said that she needed a “wake-up call.”
In the clip, which later leaked online, Olivia told Shia: “I feel like I’m not ready to give up on this yet, and I, too, am heartbroken and I want to figure this out. 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 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?” she added.
While Florence didn’t publicly react to the leaked video, her stylist referenced it in an Instagram post from Venice Film Festival, which Florence liked.
Although the tension between the two women is now palpable, you might be surprised to know that it hasn’t always been this way, and when Florence was first cast in the movie, she called Olivia her “idol.”
Announcing the news on social media back in 2020, Florence wrote: “@oliviawilde just tagged me in a picture *gasp no.1* @oliviawilde casted me in a film *gasp no.2* @oliviawilde is my idol and allowed me to be a part of this fecking incredible cast. Shia?!? Chris?!? *gasp no.3*”
And a resurfaced video from November 2019 has now reiterated just how much Florence admired the director as she spoke about her work with fellow actor Beanie Feldstein.
In Variety’s Actors on Actors series, Florence and Beanie sat down together to discuss their careers, with Beanie having just starred in Olivia’s directorial debut, Booksmart.
Unable to hide her feelings for Olivia at the time, Florence asked: “What was it like to work with Olivia Wilde? Because I am totally in love with her.”
And Beanie was convinced that the two women would get along, replying: “I think you and Olivia would be so drawn to each other because she’s just as fearless as you are, and her work is great onscreen and offscreen.”
Florence smiled as she agreed: “I can tell.”
This exchange has gained traction on TikTok off the back of the recent Don’t Worry Darling drama, with many people sharing their sympathy for Florence after she was seemingly let down by somebody that she admired so much.
“This is so sad to me :/,” one person commented. Another remarked: “Never meet your heroes.”
“Well that didn't age well did it 💀,” someone else wrote. While another comment read: “Serious shit must have gone down for her to go from THIS to utter silence.”
Shortly after the awkward premiere at the start of the month, Olivia sparked backlash when she doubled down on her claim that she had fired Shia — despite the evidence that he provided to the contrary.
The interview with Vanity Fair had taken place before Shia had made his receipts public, and the article read: “During preproduction, Wilde tells me in London, Pugh told her that she was uncomfortable with LaBeouf’s behavior. Wilde says she called LaBeouf herself and fired him."
“My responsibility was towards her. I’m like a mother wolf. Making the call was tricky, but in a way he understood,” Olivia told the publication at the time. “I don’t think it would’ve been a process he enjoyed. He comes at his work with an intensity that can be combative. It wasn’t the ethos that I demand in my productions. I want him to get well and to evolve because I think it’s a great loss to the film industry when someone that talented is unable to work.”
When contacted by the journalist after Shia appeared to publicly disprove Olivia’s narrative, Olivia claimed that the text screenshots he’d provided had been taken out of context and did not mention the leaked video.
A source also claimed that Shia had asked Olivia to choose between him and Florence, and Vanity Fair reported that Olivia let Shia “believe what he wanted to believe: that he was quitting” in order to spare his ego.
Meanwhile, Don’t Worry Darling had a second premiere in New York on Monday, which Florence did not attend, and neither did her costar Chris Pine.
Both cited other filming commitments for their absence, with Florence currently working on Dune: Part Two in Budapest, and Chris shooting in Los Angeles.