Olivia Wilde covers the latest issue of Variety, which is a preview of the Venice Film Festival. Don’t Worry Darling, Wilde’s second directorial feature film, will premiere in Venice. This interview is actually something of a “get” for Variety – this is the first time Olivia has spoken about hiring Harry Styles for DWD, about the rumors of a feud with Florence Pugh and about Jason Sudeikis sending a process server to CinemaCon to serve Olivia with papers dealing with custody of their two children. Olivia says many of the right things about feminism, about white feminism, about the ingrained bias against women in Hollywood. I still feel like something is slightly “off” about… a few things. She doesn’t really address the Pugh rumors head on (and Pugh notably did not offer quotes for this profile) but she does compliment Pugh and her performance. She complains about internet gossip ten minutes after she refers to being served as “vicious” and “sabotage.” Dramatique! Some highlights from this Variety story:
Being served with custody papers at CinemaCon: “It was my workplace. In any other workplace, it would be seen as an attack. It was really upsetting. It shouldn’t have been able to happen. There was a huge breach in security, which is really scary. The hurdles that you had to jump through to get into that room with several badges, plus special COVID tests that had to be taken days in advance, which gave you wristbands that were necessary to gain access to the event — this was something that required forethought.”
She carried on with her presentation after being served: “I hated that this nastiness distracted from the work of so many different people and the studio that I was up there representing. To try to sabotage that was really vicious. But I had a job to do; I’m not easily distracted. But, you know, sadly, it was not something that was entirely surprising to me. I mean, there’s a reason I left that relationship.”
The children suffered because she was served? “The only people who suffered were my kids, because they’ll have to see that, and they shouldn’t ever have to know that happened. For me, it was appalling, but the victims were an 8- and 5-year-old, and that’s really sad. I chose to become an actress; I willingly walked into the spotlight. But it’s not something my children have asked for. And when my kids are dragged into it, it’s deeply painful.”
Her children: When Wilde is with her children, she’s entirely with her children, she says. She makes breakfast every morning, never misses bedtime and takes them to school herself. “They are my world. They are my best friends.”
The story of ‘Don’t Worry Darling’: “I was looking for a way to tell a story about what happens when someone is willing to sacrifice a system that serves them in order to do the right thing. I was also thinking a lot about my place in society as someone who could rage against the patriarchy but in many ways totally benefits from it. Science fiction has a long history in film of allowing for political issues to be spoken out through entertaining narratives,” she says. “I don’t enjoy or feel inspired by stories that oversimplify feminism. It’s so much more complicated.” At the same time, Wilde didn’t want her next film to feel in any way “preachy.”
Hiring Florence Pugh for the lead role: “I had been blown the f–k away by her. I loved the film, but I loved her. I was just like, ‘Well, she’s extraordinary. She’s clearly the most exciting young actress working today.’”
The report that Harry Styles was paid three times more than Pugh: Wilde denies that, saying in an email later, “There has been a lot out there that I largely don’t pay attention to. But the absurdity of invented clickbait and subsequent reaction regarding a nonexistent pay disparity between our lead and supporting actors really upset me. I’m a woman who has been in this business for over 20 years, and it’s something that I have fought for myself and others, especially being a director. There is absolutely no validity to those claims.” Beyond that, neither Wilde nor Pugh has bothered to comment on the tabloid-driven feud.
On her relationship with Styles: “I’m not going to say anything about it because I’ve never seen a relationship benefit from being dragged into the public arena. We both go out of our way to protect our relationship; I think it’s out of experience, but also just out of deep love.”
Celebrity gossip: “The whole culture of celebrity gossip is interesting as a distracting tool to numb people from the greater pains of the world. Escapism is really a very human quality, searching for something to anesthetize the painful reality of so many people’s lives. I don’t blame people for seeking escapism, but I think the tabloid media is a tool to pit women against one another and to shame them.”
Wilde has felt her privacy violated. “The last two years, my family has gone through this kind of restructuring and a revolution that should be a totally personal experience. And it’s not. The most painful element of it has been women shaming me for making a decision that was for my own health and happiness.”
“In any other workplace, it would be seen as an attack” – but not really? Process servers go to people’s offices all the time. Sometimes people prefer to be served in an office as opposed to their home or airport or what have you. I get that it was embarrassing for her, I get that it was rude and awful. But I’m still not entirely convinced (as she is) that Jason Sudeikis intentionally set up this situation to have Olivia served on stage. I also still wonder if Olivia had been dodging the server for a while too. Additionally, I don’t get why… being served on stage at CinemaCon was about her children? Yes, the actual custodial issue was about the kids, but the act of being served wasn’t some drag on the kids? Am I crazy or is she going way overboard about this?
As for the stuff about Pugh… the promotion is definitely going to be interesting, because Florence is not lifting a finger to promote this movie any more than she’s contractually obligated to. The Venice premiere is going to be fascinating. And honestly, that will help the movie a bit too.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Getty, cover courtesy of Variety.