Mike mentioned this in last night’s Pajiba Love, but the spiraling publicity tour for Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling deserves more discussion. It’s not just that Wilde is using her press tour to lash out at her ex, Jason Sudeikis, accusing him of involving their kids while pointedly poisoning their kids against her ex, it’s also the notable absence of Florence Pugh.
Several weeks ago, rumors began to fly that Pugh was not promoting Don’t Worry Darling because of issues she may have had with Wilde, which may or may not have had something to do with the affair Wilde had with Styles during filming. Pugh has, however, recently referred to the hyper-sexualization of the movie while noting that she didn’t want her performance to “be reduced to [her] sex scenes with the most famous man in the world.” Pugh insisted that the movie was “bigger and better” than the sex scenes, although a few days later, Wilde highlighted the very same sex scenes, noting that they were “integral to the story itself.” I don’t know if that was meant to be a contradiction, but some certainly thought so.
More recently, the issue of Shia LaBeouf has resurfaced. Recall that LaBeouf was fired (or exited) the film several months before LaBeouf’s career was derailed again when his ex-girlfriend FKA twigs sued him for “relentless abuse.” We have no love whatsoever for LaBeouf who has had entirely too many chances in the industry and has run out of redemption cards, notwithstanding his likely PR-driven decision to convert to Catholicism.
LaBeouf was replaced by Harry Styles, and Wilde has since stated that she fired LaBeouf for violating her “no asshole” policy and, more recently, to protect Florence Pugh. Given LaBeouf’s history of assholish behavior on set and his past abusive behavior (including killing a dog), this all tracked.
Now look: If LaBeouf was an asshole, left over scheduling conflicts, and Wilde suggested that it was really because he was an asshole, I don’t have much problem with Wilde fudging the truth. I also do not give one single damn about Shia LaBeouf. My issue is that based on a video sent to Wilde from LaBeouf — a video that Variety has watched — it was Pugh who thought LaBeouf was the asshole. It was Pugh who didn’t want to work with LaBeouf, and Wilde nevertheless tried to coax LaBeouf back onto the set over Pugh’s objections. From Variety:
LaBeouf included a video to Variety that Wilde allegedly sent him on Aug. 19, 2020, two days after he claimed he quit. In the video, Wilde is driving a car and says she is “not ready to give up on this yet.” She also alludes to tension between LaBeouf and Florence Pugh, who stars in the film as Alice, the wife of LaBeouf and Styles’ character Jack.
“I feel like I’m not ready to give up on this yet, and I too am heartbroken and I want to figure this out,” she says in the video. “You know, I think this might be a bit of a wake-up call for Miss Flo, and I want to know if you’re open to giving this a shot with me, with us. If she really commits, if she really puts her mind and heart into it at this point and if you guys can make peace — and I respect your point of view, I respect hers — but if you guys can do it, what do you think? Is there hope? Will you let me know?”
In another message sent at an unspecified time between Aug. 16 and Aug. 20, Wilde texted LaBeouf, “You don’t have to be in my movies but don’t ever doubt me. We pinky promised. That means something in my house.”
So did Wilde fire LaBeouf to protect “Miss Flo” or did Wilde attempt to keep LaBeouf from quitting despite Pugh’s obvious discomfort with him? I’ve tried to remain neutral in the Wilde vs. Sudeikis PR battle (custody battles bring out the worst in good people), and I don’t give one single damn about LaBeouf, but I do have a problem with a director prioritizing someone’s performance over the safety and comfort of another actress, especially when it involves an actor with a history of abusive behavior. And if you’re Florence Pugh, and you continue to hear your director claim she fired someone to protect them when in fact the truth is otherwise, well, no wonder she’s reportedly upset with Olivia Wilde.