After the weeks of drama that had engulfed Olivia Wildethe second highly publicized feature of don’t worry darlingdrama that somehow managed to crescendo even more after an awkward press conference at the Venice Film Festival Monday (where questions were closed by the moderator), there was undoubtedly hope that all the scandal would be put aside for the star-studded world premiere later that evening.
And, for the most part, it was.
Thanks to Harry Stylesaway fans (many of whom had camped out overnight) assured Warner Bros.’ psychological thriller. Discovery produced probably the loudest shouts of the festival, although the main star’s welcome Florence Poug reaches a similar decibel range. The screams continued beyond the red carpet and into the Salla Grande ahead of the screening, as the film generated a solid seven-minute standing ovation afterwards.
But eagle-eyed cameras captured several moments that reignited the bonfire of controversy, created several new memes and ensured that much of the discussion on social media is still firmly away from the movie itself.
In what became an overnight viral video hit, as Styles sits down in the Great Room for the don’t worry darling showing, he appears to be spitting on his co-star Chris Pine. Or does he? Pine’s reaction certainly suggests he did. Either way, the images have become arguably the biggest talking point on Twitter since the premiere, generating millions of views.
Possibly in second place, other video footage captured after the screening shows Pugh acknowledging the cheers and applause, looking embarrassed, throwing kisses at the crowd and laughing with co-star Nick Kroll. But what it doesn’t show is that she’s making eye contact with her director Wilde, with observers suggesting she didn’t do so once during the entire seven-minute ovation. The two were seated four seats apart and didn’t appear to interact at all on the red carpet beforehand.
Given that much of the drama surrounding the film has to do with rumors of a rift between Wilde and its lead actress, who skipped the press conference in Venice (her plane landed while it was unfolding – which resulted in another memorable moment of her happily walking around, glass of Aperol Spritz in hand), the clips from the premiere only served to increase the volume of the debate – or “internet gossip” as Wilde had described it to reporters – even further.
In what THR previously suggested it would become an impressive ‘controversies’ section in the psychological thriller’s Wikipedia entry, in mid-August tabloid rumors emerged that Pugh – who plays a 1950s suburban housewife in an idyllic cult-like community called Victory – had fallen out with Wilde after the director began a relationship with Styles while filming. Those rumors expanded a few days later to suggest she was paid less than a third of what her male co-star earned ($700,000 compared to Styles’ $2.5 million, apparently).
A few days before the start of Venice, there was another explosion. In a lengthy interview in which Wilde said there was ‘no validity’ to the pay gap allegations, she also alluded to the fact that she had been fired Shia Labeouf (whose role went to Styles), saying she did it for her “fighting energy” and to keep Pugh “safe”.
LaBeouf immediately fired back, writing a lengthy public email – which included several text messages he had received from Wilde as evidence – claiming he had “left” the film. A leaked video message in 2020 appeared to confirm LaBeouf’s protests, showing Wilde in his car begging him to change his mind while apparently accusing Pugh – or “Miss Flo” as she called her – of being concerned to work with the actor.
With this latest update on the matter entering the festival, many eyes were on the press conference in hopes that it would be addressed by Wilde. Not so. After Wilde asked about Pugh’s absence and their supposed fallout, saying she didn’t want to contribute ‘all the noise’, the moderator then closed. The Hollywood Reporterto ask about LaBeouf.
On the lighter side of the online frenzy, Pine – a potential spitting target later in the day – became a viral hit himself due to the press conference. While much of the attention was on Wilde’s refusal to speak about the drama, photos from the media encounter showed him spaced out by the proceedings. Or, as several Twitter users have described it: “Chris Pine in astral projection.”