Florence Pugh has severely limited her promotional press for the upcoming feminist thriller “Don’t Worry Darling,” fueling speculation that she and director and co-star Olivia Wilde have fallen out.
TheWrap spoke to three executives connected to the film, as well as an individual with knowledge of Pugh’s involvement, who all declined to confirm any further press plans for the actress beyond attending the Venice Film Festival for the film’s premiere and red carpet, flying in from the set of Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune: Part Two.”
Pugh has been in Budapest filming “Dune: Part Two” and filming Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” prior to that. According to an individual with knowledge of the situation, she will be in Venice for the premiere direct from a night shoot in Budapest, and returning to filming afterwards.
But the Venice Film Festival red carpet and press conference are expected to be the extent of Pugh’s traditional press duties on the film. “She’ll be doing greetings for us from the set of ‘Dune’ because she’s not doing press,” a studio executive said.
According to the exec, the studio knew that Pugh’s availability for the press tour on “Don’t Worry Darling” would be limited, considering “Dune 2” is also a Warner Bros. project, and planned for such.
But the unusual lack of participation in promoting the film by its lead actor suggests there might be validity to speculation on a fallout between Pugh and the film’s director Olivia Wilde over Wilde’s relationship with co-star Harry Styles and an alleged affair on set.
As the star of the film, Pugh (“Alice”) plays a ’50s-style housewife in an artificially perfect society in the desert, where her husband (Styles) and the other men go off every morning to work in a mysterious mountain where supernatural forces make it a forbidden place for the women. In time, Alice comes to suspect that a nefarious force is keeping her and the other women prisoners of this idyllic society.
Wilde directed the movie and also plays one of Pugh’s neighbor-wives.
At the end of July, Page Six published a report claiming that Pugh was unhappy about Wilde and Styles’ relationship, which reportedly began on the set while Wilde was still in a relationship with Jason Sudeikis, who brought their two kids to visit.
New Line declined to comment for this story. A rep for Pugh declined to comment on whether there had been a falling out between the the actress and director.
Social media has been rife with speculation about a fallout, with fans making every effort to deduce clues by comparing the women’s social media posts.
As of this writing, neither Pugh nor Wilde have directly addressed the rumors surrounding their working relationship. In a Variety profile of Wilde published this week, Wilde did not comment on the matter and Pugh declined to be interviewed for the story. In the piece, Wilde praised Pugh’s performance in the film and Styles answered questions over email while on tour.
Among the clues leading to fan speculation, when Wilde posted a behind-the-scenes photo on Instagram of herself watching Pugh work through the monitors — calling the experience “such af—ing thrill!” — fans pointed out that Pugh didn’t share anything about the film in return.
On the day a new trailer for “Don’t Worry Darling” dropped, Pugh instead shared the poster for “Oppenheimer” to her Instagram story.
Fans quickly began questioning why Pugh posted so little about the film at all. Since Sept. 13, 2021, when the actress shared the very first teaser for “Don’t Worry Darling,” captioned with a cheeky “see you next year,” Pugh has only posted once about the film to her main Instagram feed.
Pugh has done a few interviews tied to “Don’t Worry Darling,” but did a recent cover with Harper’s Bazaar. But even then the actress did not address Wilde by name and acknowledged she had not yet seen the movie.
What Pugh has said is that, in any conversations she has about the film, she doesn’t want things “reduced” to her sex scenes with Styles. “It’s not why we do it. It’s not why I’m in this industry,” Pugh told Harper’s Bazaar. “Obviously, the nature of hiring the most famous pop star in the world, you’re going to have conversations like that. That’s just not what I’m going to be discussing because [this movie is] bigger and better than that. And the people who made it are bigger and better than that.”
Sharon Waxman contributed to this story.