Olivia Wilde Is Acting Her Ass Off (In the Ongoing DWD Press Tour)

Though no amount of "everything is fine" coverage will lead me to believe everything is fine

American actress and filmmaker Olivia Wilde at the 79 Venice International Film Festival 2022. Don't...
Mondadori Portfolio/Mondadori Portfolio/Getty Images
horse girl energy

We all had our chuckles this weekend, but the Don’t Worry Darling press tour is back to normal, led by director Olivia Wilde's insistent dedication to "posi vibes only" image maintenance. As her male lead/boyfriend Harry Styles clarified at his concert that he did not spit on Chris Pine (by joking that he did spit on Chris Pine), the Vanity Fair October cover story starring Wilde dropped, full of her clarifications and pleas for pathos amidst the drama.

Of course, what Wilde insists is that there is no drama, or rather, claims of drama are laden with misogyny and anti-feminist fervor. “It is ironic that now, with my second film — which is again about the incredible power of women, what we’re capable of when we unite, and how easy it is to strip a woman of power by using other women to judge and shame them — we’re talking about this,” she explains. It’s possible, however, that the reason we are talking about this is because it’s more interesting than the premise of Don’t Worry Darling, the story of a 1950s housewife (OR IS SHE?) who realizes the world is not good. Been there, done that!

The Vanity Fair piece is really a masterclass in performance. Let us not forget that Wilde is an actress, a reliable workhorse through the mid-aughts and early 2010s, with great turns in Drinking Buddies and Rush (don’t believe me? Then rewatch Rush). Throughout the profile — and really, the whole Don’t Worry Darling press tour — Wilde has strained to be the consummate professional. She praises Florence Pugh (“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.”), she praises Harry Styles (“My thing with Harry was that I knew he was fearless. 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 praises director of photography Matthew Libatique, who is rumored to have “ghost-directed” the film (“our genius DP”). She has nothing but kind words for everyone but ex Jason Sudeikis — which, fair.

Wilde also addresses the ongoing back and forth about Shia LaBeouf, who parted ways with the film due to his combative behavior, according to Wilde. The incident is framed as a matter of choosing between him and Pugh, the latter of whom Wilde calls herself a “mother wolf” of, which would be fitting if wolf cubs never made eye contact with their mothers. It seems that Wilde has an answer for everything, a natural ease. The profile is flattering and humanizing. It’s plain to see that the director has had, to some extent, a raw deal.

Only — part of the reason it has been easy for the Internet to go after Wilde is her buoyancy, her ceaseless positivity. She quotes, for instance, a mall Santa as a beacon of sanity and love. “Santa said, ‘Fill up your own love cup. Let someone fall in love with your overflow.’ Thousands of dollars of therapy did not give us what five minutes of mall Santa did,” she explains in possibly the least Jewish sentence of all time. Not unlike what reviews have said of Don’t Worry Darling, one pinprick undoes the logic of everything that’s been done. She can praise Pugh all she wants, but Pugh’s continued disinterest and disdain for what’s happening will haunt the film far past its release and for the next month of its press tour. Though Wilde says that the premiere in Venice was “so moving!” (exclamation point her own), a private source discloses that the director was “crushed” by the events.

The drama is messy and still rather funny, but it’s hard not to wonder what would happen if everyone told the truth. Maybe NDAs get in the way, maybe no one wants to be the one to break the dam, but hey, what if someone was just a little bit candid for once? The situation is perhaps less complicated and more realistic than everyone involved seems to realize. After all, it wouldn’t be a workplace if some coworkers didn’t hate each other at least a little bit. For a movie marked by so much cynicism, Wilde could use a little more of it.