As we discussed over the weekend, Vulture posted an interesting piece of gossip on Friday, when Don’t Worry Darling had already opened. Vulture’s anonymous sources claimed that some of the tabloid reporting about the production drama was true, especially about a falling out between Florence Pugh and Olivia Wilde. There was a “blowout argument” and a “screaming match” between Pugh and Wilde in January 2021, and it was all about how “Olivia and Harry would just disappear.” Sources also claimed that the fallout between Pugh and Wilde was so bad that then-Warner Bros executive Toby Emmerich had to step in as mediator.
All of that felt “truthy” to me, especially the part about Warner Bros executives being well aware that this film was shambolic behind-the-scenes, which goes a long way towards explaining why executives signed off on Florence Pugh doing next to nothing to promote the film. As for the blowout argument, well… following Vulture’s dishy reporting, “40 crew members” issued a statement defending Olivia, saying that there was no screaming match or blowout anything between Wilde and any member of the crew or cast. Yeah, sure. Absolutely no one believes that. In LaineyGossip’s coverage of this saga, Sarah (from Cinesnark) discussed how HER sources actually back up Vulture’s reporting and then some (these are just highlights):
Here’s what I can tell you after talking to two on-set members of production, and one person with knowledge of the production back at the studio. There was, indeed, a “loud” disagreement between Pugh and Wilde on set late into production. And Wilde would, indeed, “disappear” from set, aligning with times when no one could locate Harry Styles. One person described Wilde as “unpresent”. One social media rumor has it that Pugh “directed” much of the film, but this is not true. A director does more than yell “action” and “cut”, a LOT of their work is preparatory.
But it is believed to be the major source of Pugh’s ire that Wilde would be “unpresent”, and Pugh, already stressed, would grow tired of waiting and ask that they just start filming without Wilde. Everyone has their pages, they know what scene they’re shooting, Libatique and the first assistant director would know the shots Wilde wants, so they would proceed without Wilde, who would then breeze in and “take over” without acknowledging Pugh keeping them on track. Chris Pine apparently backed Pugh every time she asked to simply start without Wilde. Reportedly, Pine is firmly Team Miss Flo, factor that into Phantom Spitgate however you may.
I have no sense that Pugh cared particularly about Wilde and Styles disappearing together, but she did care about staying on schedule and not wasting time, and Wilde was held as unprofessional by many people on set for her vanishing act and then never acknowledging those instances when Pugh’s insistence was the only reason the whole day wasn’t wasted. It wasn’t so much that anyone cared she was (allegedly) having an affair, it’s that the affair was apparently bleeding onto set and affecting everyone else’s workday. THAT was the problem.
I have to believe there is yet more fire behind all this smoke, because an actor like Pugh, on the rise and ambitious, wouldn’t, essentially, throw away a major release like Darling unless there was a BIG reason to do so. Having a shouting match on set hardly qualifies, that happens WAY more than the general public knows, and no one panics over it. But whatever worse thing may exist, no one is talking. The feeling is that this one got away from Wilde, and that maybe she’ll learn from the whole experience (and that maybe without the distraction of Harry Styles, she’ll be more focused next time), and that Pugh will be fine either way. One thing is crystal clear, EVERYONE liked Florence Pugh, and by the end of production, respected her for enduring an increasingly difficult relationship with her director to turn in a fine performance. As the studio flak made clear, Florence abandoned the film’s press, but she never abandoned the production.
I think it’s interesting that sources acknowledge that there was a big, loud argument AND that Olivia would disappear with Harry in the middle of the work day but that stuff wasn’t THE big falling out between Pugh and Wilde. Whatever happened, it happened long before Shia LaBeouf dropped the receipts. Chronologically, Olivia told Shia “I think this might be a bit of a wake-up call for Miss Flo” before Wilde and Pugh’s fallout, but Pugh likely heard that message when we all did, in August of this year. If that’s the way Wilde was speaking about Miss Flo before the production even began, I think we can safely say that Wilde was probably dripping with sanctimonious assholery every single day of that production.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images, Backgrid.