In December 2021, 10 months after filming wrapped, Olivia Wilde lifted the lid on her upcoming movie Don’t Worry Darling in an interview with Vogue magazine.
At the time, she said that one of her biggest aims in the psychological thriller was to make sex scenes good again. “I kept saying, ‘Why isn’t there any good sex in film anymore?’” Olivia explained, adding that she sought inspiration from other movies set in the same era that were “really sexy in a grown-up way.”
Olivia went on to add that she wanted her audience to “realize how rarely they see female hunger, and specifically this type of female pleasure,” and this was reflected in the release of the movie’s first trailer in May.
Don’t Worry Darling stars Florence Pugh and Harry Styles as married couple Alice and Jack, and the teaser included an incredibly raunchy sex scene between the two.
In the clip, the couple enjoy a steamy makeout session before Jack pushes Alice onto the kitchen table and performs oral sex on her.
Olivia appeared to be thrilled by the reaction that this scene triggered, especially when the trailer was praised for passing “the Clit Test.”
“The Clit Test” celebrates media’s acknowledgment of the clitoris, rather than the vagina, as a source of pleasure, and the test’s Instagram page posted the Don’t Worry Darling trailer to its story and wrote: “TFW there’s a @clit.test pass in the trailer. @OliviaWilde showing how it’s done as usual.”
Olivia proudly reposted this to her own social media account and added: “We love the @clit.test!”
“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,” Florence told the publication. “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,” Florence went on, in reference to Olivia’s boyfriend Harry. “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.”
Just days later, Variety published a new interview with Olivia that reiterates just how different her and Florence’s perspectives were.
In fact, much of the profile was focused on Don’t Worry Darling’s sex scenes, and the very opening paragraph highlights Olivia’s preoccupation with representing female pleasure in this project.
“It’s teatime in London, and Olivia Wilde is talking about the O-word. No, not the Oscars, but her approach to sex scenes in her new movie, Don’t Worry Darling,” the Variety interview begins. “‘Men don’t come in this film,’ she declares over cucumber sandwiches and scones at Claridge’s, just blocks away from Buckingham Palace. ‘Only women here!’”
This is a theme throughout the piece, with Olivia also telling the publication, “Female pleasure, the best versions of it that you see nowadays, are in queer films. 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.”
“It’s all about immediacy and extreme passion for one another. The impractical nature of their sex speaks to their ferocious desire for one another,” Olivia said. “I think it’s integral to the story itself and how the audience is meant to connect to them. My early conversations with the cast were all about how the audience has to buy into the fantasy.”
Shortly after that, Olivia revealed that she’d originally fought to have more sex scenes in Don’t Worry Darling’s trailer and was left “upset” when the Motion Picture Association wouldn’t allow it.
She told the Associated Press, “I do think the lack of eroticism in American film is kind of new. Then when it comes to female pleasure, it’s something that we just don’t see very often unless you’re talking about queer cinema.”
And the MPA’s reaction to her depiction of female pleasure onscreen is something that Olivia wears as a badge of honor. She boasted: “I mean, people are upset with me already over this. I think it’s a testament to the film. We want to be provocative. The idea is not to make you feel safe.”
But despite Olivia’s repeated focus on Don’t Worry Darling’s sex scenes over the last 10 months — both before and after Florence’s Harper’s Bazaar profile — she has now attempted to backtrack on her stance in a bizarre U-turn.
In a new interview with Elle, which was published on Thursday, Olivia said that it’s “ironic” how the discourse surrounding female pleasure in the movie had overshadowed the story, and that she agreed with Florence when she said that Don’t Worry Darling is “bigger and better” than that.
Olivia said, “It’s interesting because Florence very wisely pointed out that a lot of attention has been given to the sex scenes. And I think she’s so right.”
“I completely agree with her that it’s overshadowing everything else that the movie’s about, which is so interestingly ironic because one of the uses of sex in Victory is as a tool of distraction,” she added.
“When Florence pointed that out that this film is so much bigger and better than just the sex scenes, I was so happy that she said that because I feel the same way,” Olivia concluded.
Needless to say, people were baffled by Olivia’s comments, and many took to social media to call her out after she failed to acknowledge her own role in leading the conversation.
“The only person that made don’t worry darling all about sex and female pleasure was olivia wilde and now she’s backtracking saying that she agreed with florence even though she continued to make those comments after flos statement???” one person tweeted.
Another echoed: “The only person that made dwd all about sex and female pleasure was olivia wilde and now she’s backtracking PLEASE MAKE IT MADE SENSE.”
“Why is olivia wilde trying to gaslight the entire population,” someone else asked. A fourth tweet read: “Olivia wilde was literally the only person talking about the sex in don’t worry darling. she brought it up in every single interview and now she’s trying to say that the sex overshadowed the film? she is so embarrassing.”
“I don’t think olivia wilde realizes that everything she says on the internet stays on the internet,” another person wrote.
And this isn’t the first time that Olivia’s narrative has left people scratching their heads, with her repeated implication that she fired Shia LaBeouf from the project also sparking confusion earlier this year.
Shia was originally cast in Harry’s role but left the project in the summer of 2020, before filming had begun. Olivia said that she chose to remove him from the film because Florence was not happy working with him and she has a strict “no assholes” policy on set.
In August, she told Variety that Shia had a “combative energy” and she replaced him with Harry to “protect” Florence and make her feel “safe.”
But just days after the interview was published, Shia provided Variety with a series of receipts that appeared to prove that he was the one who chose to leave Don’t Worry Darling, and it was because he felt like he didn’t have enough time to rehearse.
A video message to Shia from Olivia was included in the evidence and later leaked online, with Olivia seen begging Shia to reconsider his decision and referring to Florence as “Miss Flo” in the clip. She also said that Florence needed a “wake-up call.”
“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,” Olivia told Shia.
“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 went on.
Florence did not publicly react to the leaked video at the time, but she did like an Instagram post that her stylist posted in reference to it.