A Warner Bros. rep on Friday denied a report that “Don’t Worry Darling” director Olivia Wilde and her star Florence Pugh got into a “screaming match” so contentious that then-studio head Toby Emmerich had to be called in to broker peace.
On Friday, Vulture reported that Wilde and Pugh became so heated during the movie’s production that Emmerich was “forced to play referee in a ‘long negotiation process'” to ensure that Pugh would participate in the movie’s press promotion and “not jeopardize the potential box office.” But an individual with knowledge of the production disputed the idea that Emmerich was contacted to intervene between the director and star of the thriller, which opens Friday with much behind-the-scenes sturm und drang.
The studio also disputed Vulture’s reporting that studio executives are unhappy with how Wilde has promoted the film, specifically over how she handled discussing Shia LaBeouf’s exit as the film’s co-star (replaced before shooting began with pop star Harry Styles).
“We are so proud of the work that Olivia Wilde has done making this incredibly beautiful and entertaining film and look forward to collaborating with her again,” Warner Bros. Pictures co-chairs and CEOs Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy said in a statement. “The studio is very grateful and appreciative of the tireless support by Olivia in bringing her vision to life from production through release. Any suggestion of conflict between the studio and Olivia is simply not true.”
Reps for Wilde and Pugh did not respond to requests for comment.
According to Vulture, Pugh in January 2021 had reportedly become “fed up” with her director’s “frequent unexplained absences.” Vulture’s source noted that she and co-star Harry Styles, with whom Wilde had become romantically involved during shooting, would often “disappear.”
“Don’t Worry Darling” has been plagued by controversy in the months leading up to its world premiere at Venice and subsequent box office debut Thursday evening.
The day before the film hit theaters, Wilde appeared on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” in a last-ditch attempt to put the rumors to rest. These include the “Spitgate” incident stemming from a video in which Styles appeared to have spit on Chris Pine after the film’s screening at Venice, which Wilde dismissed as “clickbait” and “a perfect example of, people will look for drama anywhere they can.”
Separately, she addressed the question of whether she had fired Shia LaBeouf from the project or if the scandal-ridden actor had quit. In Dec. 2020, LaBeouf was sued by ex-girlfriend FKA Twigs for sexual assault and battery; not long after, he left “Don’t Worry Darling” and was later replaced by Styles.
At one point, Wilde told Vanity Fair that she had fired him, citing a “no assholes policy,” but LaBeouf claimed he had quit instead, sharing emails that he had allegedly sent to Wilde showing that he quit over a “lack of rehearsal time.” In a leaked video sent from Wilde to LaBeouf, she appeared to ask him to reconsider.
“We had to replace Shia,” Wilde told Colbert on Wednesday. “He is a fantastic actor but it wasn’t going to work. And when he gave me the ultimatum of him or Florence, I chose Florence. And that was him feeling like he was stepping away and me feeling like we were moving on without him.”
As for Pugh – who sparked rumors of a feud when she initially failed to promote the film on social media, pulled out of its Venice press conference and has largely declined to participate in the press tour – Wilde said she has “nothing but respect for Florence’s talent.”
“I don’t feel like my male directing colleagues are answering questions about their cast,” Wilde added.
On Friday, Pugh finally posted about the film to promote it on her Instagram account, mostly praising her fellow cast and crew. While Wilde was not name-checked, one of the 10 images Pugh posted showed the two in a scene together.
Brian Welk contributed to this report.