In the darkness of the Sala Grande in Venice, as the credits rolled after the world premiere of Don’t Worry Darling on Monday night, observers swore that there were tears in Florence Pugh‘s eyes.
Of pride? Perhaps, for her performance as Alice Chambers is widely said to be by far the best thing in what critics are calling a shallow disappointment of a film.
Perhaps, though, the emotions were simply a release after she navigated the extraordinary pantomime which played out on the red carpet.
For who wouldn’t feel relieved to the point of weeping after tiptoeing through a minefield which included entirely avoiding sharing a glance or a greeting with your screen husband and co-star Harry Styles and your boss on the film, Olivia Wilde, also his girlfriend – and contriving to do so in front of the lenses of hundreds of cameras?
There were hugs for everyone else from Florence – and plenty of kisses and selfies with fans. But as far as Styles and Wilde were concerned, they may as well have been on a different planet.
Even the line-up for photographers, customary at a premiere, separated her from them both.
Consummate actress that she is, Pugh managed to look thrilled to be there.
Her extraordinary bombshell Versace playsuit had a hint of Princess Diana’s revenge dress about it; it made everyone else look second rate – even Olivia Wilde who had pulled out all the stops in a canary yellow ensemble, complete with diamonds and a fringed cape for her big moment.
Presumably, that was the point.
The dramas which have raged around this film have proved easily as compelling as anything which Wilde dreamed up in it.
It can be revealed that after the screening, as the cast and crew stood to receive a standing ovation, Florence Pugh embraced her co-star Nick Knoll and then, rather abruptly, turned heel and left the cinema.
Keeping their distance: Chris Pine, Harry Styles and Gemma Chan sat between Don’t Worry Darling director Olivia Wilde and her star actor, Florence Pugh at the movie’s screening in the Sala Grande at the Venice International Film Festival
Sharp exit: After the screening, as the cast and crew stood to receive a standing ovation, Florence Pugh embraced her co-star Nick Knoll and then, rather abruptly, turned heel and left the cinema. Although the clapping was in full flow, the rest of the cast felt that they had to follow suit and interrupt the ovation, otherwise it would look as if Pugh had stormed out
Although the clapping was in full flow, the rest of the cast felt that they had to follow suit and interrupt the ovation, otherwise it would look as if Pugh had stormed out.
I’m told she was whisked away immediately in a hired Lexus, and then took a boat ride across the lagoon to Marco Polo airport, and thence via private jet to Budapest, where she was expected on the set of Dune 2 on Tuesday.
While the rest of them were enjoying dinner and an after-party, she was long gone.
At least she showed up for the premiere, although given that this film is being distributed by a major studio, Warner Bros., that appearance was likely a contractual obligation.
And – as revealed in the Mail on Friday – she didn’t come to the press conference. She touched down around 45 minutes later.
By that point, Wilde and Styles had come through a ludicrous press conference at which the director entirely failed to lay to rest reports that she and Pugh are at war.
During an at-times-surreal 24-minute press conference on Monday, Wilde sternly shut down queries as to why the star of the film, Florence Pugh, opted not to attend to face the press.
Hugs and kisses (almost) all round: Florence embraced her co-star Gemma Chan (together, left) and shared a giggle with Chris Pine (right)
There were hugs for everyone else from Florence – and plenty of kisses and selfies with fans. But as far as Styles and Wilde were concerned, they may as well have been on a different planet. Consummate actress that she is, Pugh (right animatedly chatting with her co-stars while Olivia Wilde looks the other way) managed to look thrilled to be there
Look of love! Olivia Wilde shared a loving glance with her beau Harry Styles on Monday as she stunned in a yellow gown for her film Don’t Worry Darling’s Venice Film Festival premiere – there was no such shared look for the movie’s leading lady, Florence Pugh
Red carpet pantomime: Florence and Olivia avoided eye contact, and always had someone between them in group shots
Awkward: Florence skipped the photo call and press conference for the film on Monday, amid speculation of friction between her and director Olivia on set
The drama began in mid-August when rumors emerged that Pugh — who plays the film’s 1950s suburban housewife in an idyllic community called Victory — had fallen out with Wilde after the director started a relationship with co-star Styles during the shoot.
Apparently she deplored their habit of taking private time together in trailers during filming.
The negative buzz continued when it was alleged that Pugh, the star of Little Women and Midsommar, had been paid less than a third of what her male co-star was earning ($700,000 to Styles’ $2.5 million, reportedly).
Wilde denied that this was true.
But still the talk of conflict continued, stoked by Pugh.
In her one and only piece of press to support the film, Pugh deplored the way that it was marketed, in particular the focus on her sex scenes.
Pugh said: ‘When it’s reduced to your sex scenes… to watch the most famous man in the world go down on someone… it’s not why we do it. It’s not why I’m in this industry.’
This was squarely down to Wilde, who said only last week that she had wanted to cut even raunchier trailers but that the censors forbade it.
Talk of conflict continued, stoked by Pugh. In her one and only piece of press to support the film, Pugh deplored the way that it was marketed, in particular the focus on her sex scenes. This was squarely down to Wilde, who said only last week that she had wanted to cut even raunchier trailers but that the censors forbade it
Asked about the reported schism in Venice on Monday, Wilde did not trouble to deny a falling out. She said: ‘Florence is a force. We are so grateful that she is able to make it tonight as she is in production on Dune. I know as a director how disruptive it is to lose your star for a day.
‘We are really thrilled to celebrate her work tonight. I’m honored to have had her as a lead – she’s incredible in this film.’
As for what she called ‘tabloid’ interest and ‘noise’ she said: ‘The internet feeds itself. I feel I don’t need to contribute. I feel it is sufficiently well nourished.’
Wilde may have felt that was enough to nourish the internet – but she was mistaken.
Footage of Chris Pine ‘zoning out’ during the press conference started circulating yesterday. Pine was very obviously bored during it – and no wonder as questions were directed almost exclusively to either Styles or Wilde.
He’s clearly on playful terms with everyone though, and pretended to be a photographer when Florence Pugh arrived – she gave him a big hug and a kiss.
But then came ‘spitgate.’
Fans went into a frenzy after spotting that as Styles took his place in the cinema he appeared to incline his head and spit – possibly a piece of gum – onto Pine’s lap. Maybe he was just pantomiming the action as the actor looked surprised but not horrified or offended after checking his lap. Could it have been part of an in-joke, or is it yet another strand of hostility in a film which seems to be cursed with an over-abundance of it?
Immediately after Styles made the motion, Pine abruptly stopped clapping and looked to his lap before laughing as the brief video comes to an end
Chris Pine, 42, took part in the junket for the film at the Venice Film Festival on Monday, with fans noticing him zoning and ‘dissociating’ from the entire ordeal as he sat through a Q&A about Don’t Worry Darling, in which most of the questions were directed at pop star-turned-actor Harry Styles and his girlfriend Olivia Wilde
Viral: Pine’s reaction provoked a flurry of memes and tweets
Mood: Another fan, @mcclafloy, shared a number of photos of Pine from the press conference, adding, ‘Chris Pine during #DontWorryDarling press conference issa whole mood’
Wilde declined to talk at all about actor Shia LaBeouf who left the production earlier.
She told Variety magazine that she let LaBeouf go and recast him with Styles — because of LaBeouf’s ‘combative energy’ and to keep Pugh ‘safe’.
LaBeouf then fired off emails that included several SMS messages he’d received from Wilde as evidence that, actually, he had ‘quit’ the movie, while accusing her of pushing the ‘clickbait’ story of him being fired ‘because of the current social landscape’ and the ‘social currency it brings’.
Later that day, a leaked 2020 video message surfaced on social media and appeared to confirm LaBeouf’s claims, showing Wilde in her car pleading with him to change his mind and not drop out of the film, while also seeming to slight Pugh — or ‘Miss Flo’ as she referred to her — for being concerned about working with the actor.
All of that would be awkward enough, but there’s a third thread to the story, as Wilde also insists on keeping up a fiction that she and Styles aren’t dating.
As she told Variety: ‘I’m not going to say anything about it. I think because I have never seen a relationship benefit from being dragged into the public arena. We both go out of our way to protect our relationship. It think its out of experience but also out of deep love.’
Wilde, 38, and Styles, 28, sat apart at the press conference table but at several points made and held eye contact. He is in the middle of a residency at Madison Square Garden in New York but flew to Venice to promote the movie.
Wilde was engaged to actor Jason Sudeikis before becoming involved with Harry Styles.
Sudeikis, the Ted Lasso star, and Wilde were an item from 2011 to 2020 and were engaged.
They are fighting over custody of their two children – a son and a daughter. He wants the children to be raised in New York, where he lives, she is insisting on raising them in Los Angeles and London, where she is with Harry Styles.
She told Vogue magazine that they share custody on a week-on week-off basis, and she is taking time out of her career at present to concentrate on them.
She was famously served with papers relating to custody of her children while on stage talking about Don’t Worry Darling back in April. She commented: ‘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 went on: ‘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.’