Olivia Wilde covers the new issue of Variety ahead of the Venice Film Festival premiere of her film Don’t Worry Darling. “She’s So Golden” is what it says on the cover, and I see you Variety cover artists because “Golden” is the title of a Harry Styles song (a really good one, I love it) and, as we all know, Olivia and Harry are dating, even though neither one of them wants to talk about dating.
She does, however, say a lot about Harry though, as he’s the co-star of her movie, and obviously compliments him on what he contributed to the film and he is also asked to comment on her abilities as a director so… I mean… even though they’ve never said “we are together”, they really don’t have to – they say enough AROUND it to basically confirm it.
Still, Olivia does not want to fuel what she calls the “whole culture of celebrity gossip” and according to Elizabeth Wagmeister who interviewed Olivia for Variety, at one point she “goes on a 14-minute tangent about how we’re all complicit in a culture that propagates a narrative that women are to be compared with one another, thus holding them back from their full potential and happiness.”
I don’t disagree with her. And yet, I think I’m about to do the very thing she’s pushing back against because even in the Variety feature, the speculation about the rumoured tension between Olivia and Florence Pugh is addressed. Olivia, then, seems to be crusading against “tabloid media [as] a tool to pit women against one another and to shame them”. But … um… Florence “declined to be interviewed” for the story with a publicist explaining that she’s busy filming Dune 2 in Budapest so…
What’s the move here? Are we not supposed to mention that and kinda side-eye it? Because, well, this is from a PROFESSIONAL point of view, quite unusual. Florence is the lead actor in Olivia’s movie, number one on the call sheet. We typically hear from the lead actor when her director is promoting the movie. We heard from the lead actor’s co-star, Harry Styles; we hear from the head of the studio that produced Don’t Worry Darling; we hear from Beanie Feldstein who starred in Booksmart, directed by Olivia…
But we do not hear from Florence Pugh and, like, it’s one thing not to pit women against each other, it’s another to make an observation about an industry anomaly. It IS weird that Flo hasn’t said ANYTHING about Olivia, the director of the film that both of them are promoting.
Olivia meanwhile continues to express great admiration for Florence – telling Variety that she was “blown the f-ck away” by her performance in Midsommar and while she does not directly speak to the rumours about the friction between them, she does make it very clear that the reports that Harry was paid as much as three times more than Flo on the film are bullsh-t.
You know what else is, um, intriguing though? And by intriguing I totally mean gossipy?
Florence recently took issue with the attention being paid to the love scenes between her and Harry in Don’t Worry Darling during her interview with Harper’s Bazaar. And her comments did make headlines, including at Variety. In Olivia’s Variety cover story though… well… she keeps talking about the sex scenes. As a director she wanted to show “female pleasure” onscreen. Female pleasure over and above male pleasure. “Men don’t come in this film” is exactly how she put it and she goes on to justify the sexual intimacy in the film.
“It’s all about immediacy and extreme passion for one another,” Wilde says of the film’s complicated central relationship. “The impractical nature of their sex speaks to their ferocious desire for one another. I think it’s integral to the story itself and how the audience is meant to connect to them. My early conversations with the cast were all about how the audience has to buy into the fantasy.”
So on the one hand, Flo is out here discouraging people from fixating on the sex in the film, and on other her director is doubling down on the value of the sex in the film. Is it pitting them against each other to point out the incongruency of this? And the, uh, inconsistent energy in the messaging?
No doubt, I used to pit women against each other all the time on this blog, and it was wrong, so you may not believe me when I say I don’t WANT to pit them against each other but at the same time, I’m having a hard time ignoring that, well, a lot of this sh-t isn’t adding up…
But isn’t it also reductive to insist that all women have to be best friends with each other? Is it possible to not pit women against each other but acknowledge that on a professional level, these two women may not have vibed?
OK but wait wait… let me work out in real time while I write this…
There are probably a LOT of male actors who don’t vibe with their male directors and the internet isn’t gossiping about that. So maybe it IS sexist of me, of us, to be preoccupied with this actor and this director who happen to both be women? Like the fact that it has become gossip is a reflection of the sexism because if this was two men, it would a total shrug?
Right but there are examples of male actors and directors not getting along onset that have been big gossip. Some examples: George Clooney and David O Russell on the set of Three Kings and also Tom Hardy and Alejandro González Iñárritu on the set of The Revenant. It’s also gossipy when two male actors don’t get along – I recently posted about Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise when they worked on Interview With The Vampire. And of course we gossiped a lot about Vin Diesel and The Rock.
The fact of the matter is Don’t Worry Darling is one of the most hyped films of the fall season considering that there was a bidding war for the project, and all the expectation on Olivia after Booksmart, and the high-profile cast, and her and Harry falling in love during filming, and now this situation, whatever it is, with Florence. I don’t know if it’s as simple as “tabloids are turning women against each other!” in this case.
That said, it’s not like Olivia isn’t giving the tabloids something to work with here. While she avoids talking about whatever perceived friction that exists or not between her and Florence, she does go there about her ex Jason Sudeikis. And she goes hard on what happened at CinemaCon when she was served while on stage presenting her film, interrupted while doing her job an aggressive process server. Jason has denied that it was intentional and that he knew about it but Olivia strongly suggests here that she doesn’t believe him, telling Variety that:
“I hated that this nastiness distracted from the work of so many different people and the studio that I was up there representing,” she says. “To try to sabotage that was really vicious. But I had a job to do; I’m not easily distracted.” She adds, “But, you know, sadly, it was not something that was entirely surprising to me. I mean, there’s a reason I left that relationship.”
And there’s only one way to read that. Basically she’s calling Jason Sudeikis a petty asshole – and that his being a petty asshole might be one of the reasons why she broke up with him?
What’s fascinating about that revelation is that, well, Jason Sudeikis is known for Ted Lasso now. That’s his whole public image, the man who created Ted Lasso, who might kinda be Ted Lasso for real. So many of Ted’s attributes are associated with Jason now – and those attributes are in direct contradiction to the person that Olivia just described.
If their conflict continues to play out publicly, then, we’ll see how that Ted Lasso reputation for Jason holds up, and whether or not it becomes an important asset. There’s already a gross section of the public – motivated in part by some of Harry Styles’s fans – who are predisposed to hate Olivia. And if that is combined with the goodwill for a beloved character played by Jason on a beloved TV show, we might see the culture telling on itself in that we’re not actually as evolved as we think we are. As Olivia said herself:
The most painful element of it has been women shaming me for making a decision that was for my own health and happiness.”
There is a double standard: When she and Styles are photographed together, she’s judged for dating a younger man; just as often, she’s labeled an absentee mother. “When people see me not with my kids, it’s always ‘How dare she,’” Wilde says. “I’ve never seen anyone say that about a guy. And if he is with his kid, he’s a fucking hero.”
Read the full piece on Olivia Wilde at Variety: