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“Don’t Worry Darling”: Any publicity is good publicity

By Lia Yereslove Dec. 15, 2022

Rumors of arguments between cast members, lies regarding casting and absences from both lead actor Harry Styles and director Olivia Wilde spread like wildfire throughout news outlets, stirring up controversy and turning significant media attention towards the new film “Don’t Worry Darling.” Cast members were frustrated with Wilde for neglecting her duties, and several actors left the set after disputes with their colleagues.

Jude Tantawy Art

The strain on Wilde’s relationship with the entire cast of “Don’t Worry Darling” began when the male lead at the time, Shia LaBeouf, left the film for reasons unknown by all except the director. LaBeouf released a video of Wilde attempting to convince him to return to the film—without Wilde’s initial consent. In the video, Wilde claims that lead actress Florence Pugh would be more cooperative when working with LaBeouf. This situation revealed itself to be highly confusing to audiences: Although Wilde is seen attempting to convince LaBeouf to stay in the video, she then released a statement contradicting what the video had shown earlier.

“We had to replace Shia. He is a fantastic actor, but it was not going to work. When he gave me the ultimatum of him or Florence, I chose Florence,” Wilde said, referring to LaBeouf’s departure while speaking on The Late Show.

It was suspected by “Don’t Worry Darling” fans that LaBeouf and Pugh had not been getting along on set, which was confirmed by Wilde during her interview on The Late Show. Other sources speculated Pugh refused to work with LaBeouf due to his sexual assault allegations, which further explains LaBeouf’s motivation to hand Wilde the ultimatum.

Following the events of Shia LaBeouf’s exit, the movie needed a new male lead, and Wilde recruited Grammy-winning pop star Harry Styles to co-star alongside Pugh. Soon after production restarted, a relationship formed between Wilde and Styles. This only amplified the backlash against “Don’t Worry Darling”, with people expressing criticism against the couple because they dated throughout the film’s production.

With Harry Styles joining the A-list actors on the set, the film continued to gain attention from the media, especially with photos of the new couple appearing in a variety of tabloids. According to Vanity Fair, Wilde was suspected of neglecting her duties as a director and focusing mainly on her relationship with Styles increasing skepticism about Wilde’s quality of directing. In Elle Magazine, Wilde claimed that the hate she received regarding her directing skills was due to prevalent misogyny in Hollywood.

“Workplace relationships are generally frowned upon, but usually, when the man is in power, the situation is less controversial. While I do not agree with Wilde’s decision to begin a relationship with an actor during production, if the roles were reversed and Harry Styles was directing, the media coverage would have been vastly different,” Sophomore Teddy Tak said.

Despite the criticism and score of 39% on Rotten Tomatoes “Don’t Worry Darling” received in the months before its release, the film made a whopping $19.2 million opening, shutting down suspicions of a failed box office profit. While the movie’s production was considered poor by a multitude of critics, the film still attracted numerous viewers, banking a total of $83.7 million at the box office in the U.S.

“Don’t Worry Darling” is a prime example of how any publicity—including negative publicity—can improve a film’s performance. The controversies and drama circling in the media intrigued many people, including myself. Despite the bad reviews, many of my friends and I were still interested in seeing it,” Senior Lana Stoicich said.

However, the film was only considered a success in the U.S. “Don’t Worry Darling” grossed just about $3 million outside of the country because the drama surrounding the movie was not highly covered elsewhere. This incident highlights the impacts of positive and negative exposure in unintentionally promoting films.


About the Contributors

Lia Yereslove

Staff Writer

Lia Yereslove is a junior at Leland High school, and proud to be one. She is a new staff writer on the Leland Charger Account and cannot wait for readers to see what this incredible newspaper has in store. Outside of Journalism, she enjoys hanging with her friends, her dog, listening and playing music, as well as traveling the world. And, of course, writing about it.

Jude Tantawy


Jude Tantawy is a junior at Leland High School and an artist for the Charger Account. During her free time she enjoys drawing, painting, photography, cooking, baking, and video games (like Call of Duty).

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