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(From left) Harry Styles, Sydney Chandler and Olivia Wilde attend the premiere of “Don’t Worry Darling” at Venice International Film Festival. Photo: Reuters

Venice Film Festival: Harry Styles, Florence Pugh and Olivia Wilde create buzz at Don’t Worry Darling premiere

  • Screaming fans vie to catch a glimpse of Harry Styles on the red carpet at the Venice International Film Festival as Olivia Wilde’s film premieres to acclaim
  • Florence Pugh makes a movie-star entrance in a sparkling, off-the-shoulder Valentino number and, like Styles, stops to talk to fans

After much anticipation, Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling finally had its world premiere on September 5 at the Venice International Film Festival in Venice, Italy.

Before the film, hundreds of screaming Harry Styles fans swarmed the edges of the red carpet trying to get a glimpse of him. His rapturous reception made the Timothée Chalamet mania seen on September 2 seem modest in comparison.
Star Florence Pugh also made a movie-star entrance, donning a sparkling, off-the-shoulder Valentino and, like Styles, stopping to talk to fans on her way down the carpet.
By the time the premiere was over, audiences took to their feet, giving Don’t Worry Darling a five-minute ovation, and Styles could be seen in the balcony giving his co-star Nick Kroll a big hug. Yet premiere day did little to tamp down intrigue about the film and its stars. Some even took note of who was sitting next to who in the theatre.
(From left) Nick Kroll, Florence Pugh, Chris Pine, Wilde, Chandler, Styles and Gemma Chan at the premiere of the film “Don’t Worry Darling” during the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy. Photo: AP

Many keyed in on the film’s press conference earlier in the day, with hopes that reports about behind-the-scenes tension with Pugh would be addressed or clarified. Wilde, before the premiere, said she did not want to contribute to “the endless tabloid gossip” and “the noise”.

“The internet feeds itself,” Wilde said. “I don’t need to contribute, I think it’s significantly well-nourished.”

Wilde wears Gucci for the premiere of “Don’t Worry Darling”. Photo: EPA

Pugh is in the middle of production on Dune 2, a massive blockbuster (also a Warner Bros joint) and is expected to go straight back after her Venice obligations. Though the star of the film, she did not attend the press conference as her flight had not yet landed.

“Florence is a force and we are so grateful that she is able to make it tonight,” Wilde said. “I know as a director how disruptive it is to lose an actor, even for a day.”

Behind-the-scenes drama rarely extends beyond internal industry gossip, but the question of exactly what happened in the making of Don’t Worry Darling has become a source of global intrigue.

Pugh wears Valentino at the premiere of “Don’t Worry Darling”. Photo: AP
Lack of clarity about everything from Shia LaBeouf’s departure from the film early on, to Pugh’s perceived lack of public support for the project on her social media accounts have been simmering on TikTok and Twitter for some time and then furthered by a report in the Hollywood newsletter Puck, citing various anonymous studio and production sources.

Wilde, for her part, has been nothing but effusive about her lead actor. In an interview with Associated Press, she spoke at length about Pugh’s extraordinary talent saying that what she did with the role was “singularly brilliant” and that the character of Alice is a “heroine for the ages”.

Still, questions remain about why Pugh has not been posting much about the film on her Instagram. She did not hype the trailer, or say anything about getting into Venice.

Pugh and her grandmother during the 79th annual Venice International Film Festival. Photo: EPA
Wilde herself also became a tabloid fixture after paparazzi caught on to her off-screen relationship with Styles. And then there was the CinemaCon moment in April 2022, in which Wilde was served child custody papers by her ex-partner, Jason Sudeikis, during a presentation about her movie on stage in front of thousands of industry professionals and theatre owners.

Then, in the past few weeks, all the little threads seemed to catch fire at once. Much of that was stoked by LaBeouf, who came out of the woodwork to contest a two-year-old narrative that he had been fired from the project. Ultimately, his role went to Styles.

Wilde, in a Variety cover story, is not directly quoted saying she fired him. She did offer: “His process was not conducive to the ethos that I demand in my productions. He has a process that, in some ways, seems to require a combative energy, and I don’t personally believe that is conducive to the best performances.”

Chan wears Louis Vuitton at the premiere of “Don’t Worry Darling”. Photo: AP

In response, LaBeouf sent private emails, texts and video messages to Variety to prove his case that he actually quit because of lack of rehearsal time. The video message, in which she tries to convince LaBeouf to stay on as Jack, was subsequently leaked online in which she calls Pugh “Miss Flo”.

The moderator of the press conference cut off a reporter attempting to ask about LaBeouf, saying that Wilde had already answered that in her comment about “tabloid gossip” and noise.

LaBeouf, who is heading to court next year on abuse allegations from his ex, FKA Twigs, happens to also be in Venice this year with the film Padre Pio.
Styles wears Gucci at the premiere of “Don’t Worry Darling”. Photo: EPA
A still from “Don’t Worry Darling”. Photo: AP

The press conference stuck to the themes of the film, a mid-century styled psychological thriller about a picture-perfect couple Alice (Pugh) and her husband Jack (Styles) who live in an experimental community in the desert.

“We were really interested in the kind of problematic nature of nostalgia itself,” Wilde said. “In this film everything is a metaphor … everything that is beautiful is also sinister. That is by design.”