Olivia Wilde isn’t commenting on alleged tensions between her and Florence Pugh, the star of her movie “Don’t Worry Darling.”
When asked at a Venice press conference whether Wilde can “clear the air” about the alleged falling out with Pugh, the director said: “Florence is a force. We are so grateful she’s able to make it tonight [for the red carpet] despite being in production on ‘Dune.’ I know, as a director, how disruptive it is to lose an actor even for a day, so I’m very grateful to her, and to [‘Dune’ director Denis Villeneuve] for helping us. And we’ll get to celebrate her work tonight. I can’t say how honored I am to have her as our lead. She’s amazing.
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“As for all the endless tabloid gossip and all the noise out there, the Internet feeds itself. I don’t feel the need to contribute; I think it’s sufficiently well-nourished,” said Wilde.
It emerged on Sunday when the festival released its confirmed attendees list that Pugh would not be at the press conference. The festival said that the actor’s flight to Venice from Budapest, Hungary — where she is currently on the set of the “Dune” sequel — was arriving only after the press conference, giving her time to walk the red carpet, but not to speak to media. (Photos of Pugh arriving in Venice emerged less than an hour after the press conference ended.)
When another journalist then tried to ask about Shia LaBeouf’s allegations that he wasn’t fired from the movie, as Wilde suggested in an explosive cover story with Variety, the press conference moderator — who is a senior programmer for the festival — effectively blocked the question, claiming it had already been answered by Wilde as part of the previous question on Pugh, and quickly moved on.
Wilde was joined at the Monday afternoon press conference by her cast members Harry Styles, Gemma Chan and Chris Pine.
“Don’t Worry Darling” is Wilde’s second movie following on from her directorial debut, “Booksmart.” The thriller is centered on Jack (Styles) and Alice (Pugh), whose seemingly happy marriage in a heightened version of 1960s suburbia becomes increasingly strained when Alice starts having frightening visions.
When the project was first announced in 2019, it sparked a heated bidding war, with 18 studios and streaming services fighting to land the pitch. New Line Cinema ultimately won the auction.
The movie, which has its world premiere in Venice on Monday evening but screened for press in the morning, rests on a gripping performance from Pugh, whose descent into madness as Alice anchors the movie — a fact that further highlights her absence from the press conference.
The on-set politics of the “Don’t Worry Darling” production have come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks following Wilde’s cover story interview with Variety. The director suggested that she had fired actor Shia LaBeouf from the set due to his “combative energy.” LaBeouf later asserted that he chose to leave the production because he didn’t feel the actors were given adequate time to rehearse. In a video of Wilde shared by LaBeouf, the director also alluded to tensions between LaBeouf and Pugh.
A strained relationship between Wilde and Pugh has been the subject of rumors for a few months now. While the industry baselessly pitting women against one another is hardly new, Pugh’s absence from the press conference is unorthodox. The move is especially conspicuous given Timothée Chalamet, the main lead of the Dune franchise, came to Venice to promote his Warner Bros. movie “Bones and All” and speak to media despite being on the same production as Pugh.
Wilde attended a Variety party on Sunday night celebrating her August cover story. Other attendees of the party included Warner Bros. Pictures Group co-chairpersons Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy, as well as New Line’s president of production Richard Brenner.
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