Since its announcement in 2020, “Don’t Worry Darling” has circulated around the media as one of the most anticipated films of 2022. With the film being Olivia Wilde’s second feature film as a director, as well as featuring a star-studded cast consisting of notable names such as Florence Pugh, Chris Pine, Gemma Chan and, most interestingly, Harry Styles, the movie was bound to be popular.
The project has garnered massive media attention and has taken over social media apps like TikTok and Instagram and amassed a large following. Much of the film's intrigue comes from the addition of Styles, who replaced Shia LaBeouf in September of 2020 due to LaBeouf's supposed “scheduling conflicts,” a fact that would later be disputed due to internal troubles between him and Wilde.
Styles, who had his acting debut in 2017’s “Dunkirk” and gained much attention and praise for his role, was apparently sought after by Wilde to be in this film. But in recent months, the drama surrounding the film and its production has begun to surface, shining a drastically different light on the anticipated movie.
Much of the film's attention came in January 2021 when Wilde and Styles were pictured holding hands and attending a friend's wedding. The media's circulation of the photos brought even more attention to the project as many fans speculated about the legitimacy of the two’s budding relationship, especially since only months prior, Wilde and her ex-fiance Jason Sudeikis split after more than seven years together.
Despite the rumors, Wilde and Styles continued to date throughout the rest of filming and were photographed various times until recently, when tabloids began speculating that the two have broken up, though this hasn't been confirmed by Wilde or Styles.
Many followers of both the film and Styles criticized the public nature of the two's relationship, and rumors spurred about whether the union was a publicity stunt to gain more attraction.
More than a year after Styles and Wilde’s relationship debut in April 2022, Wilde was served “personal and confidential” paperwork during her presentation of the film at CinemaCon.
This incredibly public act was later revealed to be paperwork that contained custody details regarding Wilde and Sudeikis’ two children. Sudeikis and his team later denied that they had any knowledge that the papers would be served in such a public arena. In a GQ profile in 2021, Sudeikis spoke about the abrupt ending of his and Wilde’s relationship and that he would "have a better understanding" of their split in a year and an even better one in two or five.
Two years later in a Vanity Fair cover shoot, Wilde denounced much of the news surrounding her and Sudeikis and her ex's claims as “dramatic" part of a "false narrative." Regardless of the unclear timeline between Wilde’s breakup and her union with co-star Styles, Wilde’s relationship status has garnered much attention for the film, both good and bad.
Another massive element of the drama surrounding the film that's surfaced is the conflict between Wilde and Pugh. The duo's disputes came to light after many fans noticed the lack of promotion Pugh did for the film's upcoming release and her overall supposed disinterest in the entire project.
Wilde posted an appraisal of Pugh’s performance in the film in July 2022, something Pugh never acknowledged or recognized despite being tagged. Additionally, Pugh’s lack of presence at the Venice Film Festival raised many questions about the relationship between her and Wilde. In an attempt to dispel rumors, Pugh’s team later told Variety that her absence was due to conflicts with her other upcoming projects.
More drama between the two women came to light with the drama surrounding Wilde and LaBeouf, the original casting for Jack. When it was later confirmed that Wilde indeed fired LaBeouf from the project, many speculated why the two could not work together. It was later stated in Wilde’s aforementioned 2022 Vanity Fair cover shoot that she fired LaBeouf due to his “acting process” and said that “his process was not conducive to the ethos that (she demands in her) productions."
She later told the magazine that she felt responsible to create a healthy environment and that LaBeouf was too “combative” and did not work well with others. This is not the first time negative press has circulated about LaBeouf's behavior as he has faced (and admitted to) several counts of abuse against his ex-girlfriend, FKA Twigs.
In regards to "Don't Worry Darling" and Wilde, after her cover’s release, LaBeouf quickly rebutted Wilde’s claim in an email sent to Variety addressed to the director stating that he and Wilde "both know the reasons for (his) exit."
He then released text messages and a video clip from Wilde that contained evidence of her dismay at his leaving, and that she wasn't “ready to give up.” In the infamous clip, Wilde says that his leaving was “a wake-up call for Miss Flo” and wanted to try to find a way to make filming conducive for the three of them. Her blunt comments toward Pugh only fueled the media’s speculations of the two women’s fractured relationship.
After years of drama and rumors circulating about the film's upcoming release, it all culminated in the film's premiere at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month, where all cast members, including Wilde, were seen.
Fans and critics of the film commented on the many interactions — or more so lack of interaction — between many of the actors. Spectators commented on the lack of crossover between Wilde and Pugh as well as between Wilde and Styles, all of whom seemed disinterested in one another.
Despite Wilde’s outward enthusiasm about the film's release many members of the cast, like Pine and Chan, seemed overly dissatisfied throughout the whole night. In many press interviews afterward, Pine, Chan and Styles' behavior were heavily criticized, as almost none of the actors seemed interested in discussing the film's release and production.
Many clips from the interviews were publicized including one humorous moment where Styles rambles about his favorite elements of the film where he states, “my favorite thing is about the movie is that it feels like a movie” — an enthusiastic response that garnered much attention and laughter on social media outlets.
Over the course of two years, “Don’t Worry Darling” has gained massive popularity and will undoubtedly be one of the most talked-about films in 2022. But much of the film's popularity does not come from the content itself but rather from the viral nature of the film's release and the rumors and drama that have kept its presence afloat.
The overall attention of the project raises many questions about the integrity of the film and whether it has amassed this following due to its cinematic value or its simple appeal to social media culture and young adults.
Regardless of one's stance, it is evident that “Don’t Worry Darling" and its publicity team has curated a certain image of the film and have identified the intriguing factors of the project. They've successfully pushed those elements to make the movie one of the most publicly talked about films in years.