Olivia Wilde tackles off-screen drama ahead of ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ release


LIDO, Venice, Italy — As Friday’s sci-fi thriller “Don’t Worry, Darling” arrives nationwide, Olivia Wilde, its director and co-star might be asking herself, “Why me?”

Wilde’s movie, which world premiered to positive reviews at the Venice Film Festival and stars Florence Pugh (“Black Widow”) and pop star Harry Styles (in his second feature film), arrives with most interest in the offscreen drama surrounding the period drama.

“Darling” unfolds in a dreamy midcentury modern ’50s desert community where the men work in the super-secretive Victory Project. Pugh’s Alice is happily wed to Styles’ Jack until she begins questioning things and finds that inquisitive people soon disappear.

But the film has been overshadowed by the behind-the-scenes happenings played out on social media. Where to start?

Did Wilde cast Shia LeBeouf and then fire him? What about LeBeouf countering Wilde with text and videos saying he quit?

Styles replaced LeBeouf — and soon had headlines over his affair with Wilde, who was divorcing her husband, “Ted Lasso” Emmy-winning star Jason Sudeikis, and engaged in a nasty custody fight over their two children while speaking to each other only through lawyers.

Pugh was then quoted by Matthew Belloni in Puck as feuding with Wilde over the on-set affair and angry over the couple’s frequent absences during daily filming.

Most notably, Pugh has skipped any kind of promotion for the film. She pointedly skipped the Venice press conference but reportedly pressured by the studio, showed up on the red carpet.

That’s why Wilde’s Venice press conference was dubbed the festival’s hottest ticket. There, as the two were seated apart from each other (so no tabloid would be able to get a picture of them together as a couple), Wilde would not say whether she and Styles would ever work together again.

“Florence is a force,” Wilde allowed, happy to confirm that Pugh would walk the red carpet that night. “We are so grateful that she is able to make it tonight despite being in production on ‘Dune.’ I know as a director how disruptive it is to lose an actor even for a day.

“I can’t say enough how honored I am to have her as our lead,” she added. “As for all the endless tabloid gossip and noise out there, the internet feeds itself. I don’t feel the need to contribute. I think it’s sufficiently well-nourished.”

As “Darling” opens, will the noise damage or improve the film’s box-office?  Will it confirm or question Styles’ status as a movie star?

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