Olivia Wilde: I Didn’t Hire Florence Pugh ‘to Post’

In a surprisingly candid new profile, Wilde addresses gossip, aggressive sexism, and the notorious rumors she’s faced as a single mom and director.

Olivia Wilde: I Didn’t Hire Florence Pugh ‘to Post’

Moreso than the movie itself, the theatrical levels of pandemonium that have ensconced Don’t Worry Darling have taken over the internet for months now. The movie’s premiere in Venice on Monday—rife with a spitting scandal, a dissociating Chris Pine, and yet more fuel for rumors of a falling-out between leading lady Florence Pugh and director Olivia Wilde—only further set tabloids and social media ablaze.

In a new Vanity Fair profile published Thursday, Wilde addressed nearly every major rumor about Darling with respectable candor, and, since the interview for the profile took place back in July, she even shared some ~thoughts~ on the events of Venice (“No amount of internet bullying can cause me to question my belief in a movie made collectively by so many brilliant people”) with the magazine via email on Wednesday.

Wilde’s comments about her alleged falling-out with Pugh are especially noteworthy. Directly addressing rumors that Pugh’s prolonged silence on the movie—accentuated by a dearth of social media posts promoting it, and now, her refusal to do any press—Wilde explained: “Florence is one of the most in-demand actresses in the universe. She’s on set on Dune. I gather that some people expect for her to be engaging more on social media. I didn’t hire her to post. I hired her to act. She fulfilled every single expectation I had of her. That’s all that matters to me.”

I didn’t hire her to post. I hired her to act.

Considering the salience of tabloid and Twitter narratives about Team Olivia vs. Team Florence, or really, any other famous women who allegedly don’t get along—as well as Pugh’s own apparent unwillingness to dispel rumors by so much as making eye contact with Wilde—I doubt this latest mic-drop from Wilde will change much. But, speaking as someone who was quite literally hired to post, it’s a hell of a quote nonetheless!

The profile also addresses the hullabaloo surrounding Shia LaBeouf, who contested Wilde’s claims last month that she’d fired him for allegedly making Pugh uncomfortable (claims Wilde doubles down on this in the Vanity Fair profile: “My responsibility was towards [Pugh]. I’m like a mother wolf”). LaBeouf, you’ll recall, released private emails and a short video message from Wilde in which she appears to ask him to stay on the film and utters the now infamous line, “I think this might be a bit of a wake-up call for Miss Flo.” Vanity Fair reports that the video message was allegedly sent before Wilde learned that LaBeouf and his, in Wilde’s words, “intensity” made Pugh uncomfortable. And all of this went down before allegations emerged that LaBeouf had been abusive to ex-romantic partners.

VF’s source further explained that LaBeouf’s departure transpired in “shades of gray”—he allegedly gave Wilde an ultimatum to choose between him and Pugh, and Wilde chose Pugh. “The tricky, and quintessentially Hollywood, part is that, to spare LaBeouf’s ego, she seems to have allowed him to believe what he wanted to believe: that he was quitting,” the magazine reports.

As for re-casating LaBeouf’s character, Jack, covid apparently offered Wilde a surprising stroke of luck: Because Harry Styles’ tour was canceled due to the pandemic, he was available to join Darling in 2020. Wilde emphatically clarified that there was no overlap between her relationship with Jason Sudeikis, her ex-fiancé and partner of nearly 10 years, and her ongoing relationship with Styles, contrary to a 2021 interview in which Sudeikis claimed their relationship ended in November 2020—a date Wilde all but calls “horseshit.”

“The complete horseshit idea that I left Jason for Harry is completely inaccurate. Our relationship was over long before I met Harry,” Wilde said. Wilde and Styles were first seen together when they broke the internet by attending a wedding together holding hands in January 2021.

“My thing with Harry was that I knew he was fearless,” Wilde said of her boyfriend, and her choice to cast him despite his virtually empty acting resume. “I’d rather work with a non-actor who’s fearless than a trained actor who is full of hang-ups and baggage and judgment.” She also recalls one particular moment that seems to explain her attraction to Styles: At one of his many packed concerts, she says she took in the sheer number of ecstatic women in his audience and “instantly started crying.”

“Where else do we see this?” she said. “Happy women? Women brought together with joy, loving each other, and cheering for each other?”

It’s hardly the first time she’s gushed about Styles’ noted reputation as a Feminist Man™, which is in stark contrast with how she discussed Sudeikis. Referencing the notorious incident in which he served her custody papers on-stage, Wilde called horseshit on Sudeikis’ assurances that it was some tragic mistake: “Unfortunately, I wasn’t that shocked. There’s a reason that I didn’t stay in that relationship. Unfortunately, that was consistent with my experience of the relationship.”

Wilde added that she was “disturbed” by the incident, because she knows “it took an extraordinary amount of energy [for the server] to get in that room. It took a tremendous amount of forethought. And I will tell you, there are so many other ways to do that. I am not someone who lives in hiding.”

Wilde spoke about sexism and mistreatment of women in power at length throughout the profile. She and other sources, including Darling’s esteemed cinematographer Matthew Libatique, countered the pretty transparently sexist rumor that Wilde was too obsessed with Styles on set to do her job, requiring Pugh and Libatique to step in and direct for her. (Libatique contests this, and Pugh predictably didn’t comment.) “The idea that I had five seconds in the day to be distracted by anything is laughable,” Wilde said. “I was there before everyone. I was there after everyone.” (As fundamentally sexist as this rumor may be, if it were true, I’d get it! It’s Harry Styles. If you’re expecting me to be good at my job whilst simultaneously dating a man who wrote a song about eating pussy, you’re going to be disappointed!!)

She also addressed the endless stream of critiques of her parenting, with a number of critics and media personalities suggesting she should lose her kids—all over photos of her spending time with Styles. One incident was particularly unsettling to Wilde: a 2021 segment in which Wendy Williams accused her of “[throwing] away your kids and fiancé,” adding, “When your children grow up, Olivia, you’re going to look like the worst mother who ever done it.” What bothered Wilde wasn’t the critique from Williams, but the studio audience of mostly women who applauded these statements: “I was like, ‘Why are these women finding pleasure in this moment?’”

The whirlwind of a profile concludes with Wilde expressing uncertainty about the future of her acting future, despite a whole slate of upcoming directing projects (including a mysterious Marvel title—perhaps one Styles will star in??). “As an actress, the older you get, the less opportunities you have. With directing, the more experience you have, the more valuable you are,” she said.

Ultimately, I doubt the interview will put much of the rumor mill to rest. But I hope eventually we’ll all move on to dragging Styles’ god-awful DWD accents, instead of Wilde’s parenting.

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