Olivia Wilde says Shia LaBeouf fired from "Don't Worry Darling" to make set "safe" for Florence Pugh

"Don't Worry Darling" stars Pugh as a 1950s housewife who uncovers her husband's and their new home's secrets

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published August 25, 2022 4:57PM (EDT)

Shia LaBeouf and Florence Pugh (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Shia LaBeouf and Florence Pugh (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Olive Wilde's upcoming psychological thriller "Don't Worry Darling" has created plenty of buzz well before its September debut, and not necessarily about the film itself. This time, the focus is on a controversial casting decision for one of the main roles.

Back in September 2020, news broke that Harry Styles was set to take over the lead role of Jack, which was initially given to "Transformers" star Shia LaBeouf. In the movie, set in the 1950s, Jack and his wife Alice (Florence Pugh) move to company town Victory, California – a picture-perfect place full of Jack's peers and their wives. When Alice becomes curious about Jack's project and begins to snoop around, tensions rise as she realizes that their idyllic life is not what it seems.

The intimacy and evolving dynamic between the married partners, not to mention the physical and psychological dangers that Alice must endure required that Pugh become vulnerable in order to deliver an authentic performace. That ultimately was what led to LaBeouf's exit.

The reason given for his sudden departure from the film was, at that time, said to be due to a "scheduling conflict" – Hollywood speak for almost anything but a scheduling conflict. But now Wilde is setting the record straight about the real reason behind the recasting.

"I say this as someone who is such an admirer of his work. His process was not conducive to the ethos that I demand in my productions," Wilde said about LaBeouf in a recent interview with Variety. "He has a process that, in some ways, seems to require a combative energy, and I don't personally believe that is conducive to the best performances. I believe that creating a safe, trusting environment is the best way to get people to do their best work. Ultimately, my responsibility is to the production and to the cast to protect them. That was my job."

Shortly after LaBeouf was fired from "Don't Worry Darling," FKA Twigs filed a lawsuit against LaBeouf, accusing him of sexual battery, assault and infliction of emotional distress throughout their nine-month relationship. The trial date is set for April 17, 2023.

Wilde addressed the allegations in her interview, saying, "A lot came to light after this happened that really troubled me, in terms of his behavior. 

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"I find myself just really wishing him health and evolution because I believe in restorative justice. But for our film, what we really needed was an energy that was incredibly supportive. Particularly with a movie like this, I knew that I was going to be asking Florence to be in very vulnerable situations, and my priority was making her feel safe and making her feel supported."

Alongside Styles and Pugh, the film also co-stars Chris Pine, Gemma Chan and Wilde herself.

Per Variety, Styles' own schedule opened up for the role after his tour was canceled amid the peak of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"We found the perfect Jack, and luckily, it's kind of magical that it ended up being our first choice," Wilde concluded.

"Don't Worry Darling" is in theaters Sept. 23.

By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon, covering Culture and Food. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


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Brief Don't Worry Darling Florence Pugh Movies Olivia Wilde Shia Labeouf