The Academy Award nominee said that she was not in the acting industry to be reduced to her appearance in a sex scene, with much of the publicity around the psychological thriller stemming from her onscreen relationship with her costar, Harry Styles.
The two actors play married couple Alice and Jack in the movie, which is set in the 1950s, and viewers were stunned by the inclusion of an incredibly raunchy sex scene in the film’s very first trailer back in May.
In the clip, Harry’s Jack and Florence’s Alice enjoy a steamy make-out session before Jack pushes his wife onto the kitchen table and performs oral sex on her.
The movie’s director, Olivia Wilde, previously said that this moment was a priority to her within the film as she wanted her audience to “realize how rarely they see female hunger, and specifically this type of female pleasure.”
But Olivia’s leading lady appears to have an entirely different point of view, and people thought that Florence was calling Olivia out when she criticized the hypersexualization of the movie during a recent interview with Harper’s Bazaar.
“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,” she 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 added 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 after Florence’s interview was released, Variety published its own profile of Olivia that reinforced just how different the two actors' perspectives are.
In fact, the very opening paragraph of Olivia’s interview highlighted her pride at her female character orgasming onscreen in Don’t Worry Darling.
“Men don’t come in this film,” she told Variety. “Only women here!”
“Female pleasure, the best versions of it that you see nowadays, are in queer films,” Olivia said. “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.”
And she continued to focus on the movie’s sex scenes as the chat went on, where she directly contradicted Florence’s comments by saying that they are actually “integral” to the story.
“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 explained. “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.”
Olivia first started to draw attention to Don’t Worry Darling’s sex scenes in December 2021, 10 months after filming wrapped.
At the time, she told Vogue that her aim was to make sex scenes good again with this project. She also said she wanted to highlight how “incredibly debaucherous” the ’50s could be.
“I kept saying, ‘Why isn’t there any good sex in film anymore?’” Olivia explained, saying that she sought inspiration from other movies set in the same era that were “really sexy in a grown-up way.”
And when the trailer was praised for passing “the Clit Test,” she couldn’t hide her pride, reposting the Clit Test’s Instagram post that celebrated her for “showing how it’s done” and adding: “We love the @clit.test!”
But their differing perspectives on the movie’s sex scenes are far from the only reason that people suspect that there is tension between Florence and Olivia.
When she was first cast in the movie back in 2020, Florence was open about how excited she was to work with the director, who she called her “idol.”
At the time, actor Shia LaBeouf was slated to play Jack, and Florence shared a screenshot announcing her involvement to her Instagram page alongside a lengthy caption that read: “@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*”
“I can’t wait to join this project when all of this is over,” she went on, in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Until then, masks up. Gloves on. Stay home. Read script 17,000 because.. you know.. it’s @oliviawilde!! #dontworrydarling.”
But by the time filming ended in February 2021, Florence’s social media approach had drastically changed, with her marking the wrap with a selection of behind-the-scenes photos.
Olivia was notably absent from Florence’s incredibly long caption that heaped praise on various crew members for their role in the movie.
The British actor has also promoted Don’t Worry Darling significantly less than her other projects, and while she is usually active and vocal on social media, she simply wrote: “‘Not everyone gets this opportunity…’ Not long now! Only in theatres September 23rd #dontworrydarling” when she shared her first Instagram grid post of 2022 about the movie. The post came just five days before her Harper’s Bazaar interview was published.
And speaking of which, when Olivia posted Florence’s magazine cover to her Instagram story and offered her congratulations on the interview, Florence did not repost it. However, she pointedly did repost her costar Gemma Chan’s similar message, as well as one from fashion designer Harris Reed.
This wasn’t the first time that Florence had ignored Olivia on Instagram, as she failed to acknowledge Olivia’s tribute to her that was posted back in July alongside the caption: “Watching this woman work was such a fucking thrill! Cannot wait to show you more. @florencepugh.”
Variety also revealed that Florence had declined to speak to them as part of Olivia’s profile.
As a result, there has been plenty of speculation about what went down between Florence and Olivia from April 2020 to February 2021.
In addition to their obvious disagreement on Don’t Worry Darling’s sex scenes, Olivia’s relationship with Harry is also thought to have been a factor.
Sources previously claimed that Florence was “uncomfortable” with the way that the new couple were “all over each other on set” during filming, with it also being suggested that Florence “had to direct parts” of the movie as a result.
Soon after filming wrapped, Olivia sparked backlash when she shared a gushing Instagram post that praised Harry for being willing to take on a supporting role in a “woman-led” film.
Many considered this to be an example of men being given a pat on the back for doing the bare minimum, with journalist Roisin O’Conner summarizing at the time: “It is bizarre that she thinks someone with one released acting project where he had a minor role deserves such a massive round of applause for conceding the lead to a literally Oscar-nominated actor.”
Despite the past scrutiny, Olivia reiterated this stance in her new interview, where she celebrated Harry for being “such a great supporter of [Florence’s], as someone who understood it was her film.”
Meanwhile, Florence has an established reputation for utilizing her social media page to address rumors or hit back at negative and untrue reports.