Olivia Wilde Rejects Your Projections
The Don’t Worry Darling director isn’t one to hold back. She sounds off on sex, motherhood, Roe v. Wade, and life in the eye of the social media storm.
“Miniature enthusiast” is how Olivia Wilde describes herself in her Instagram bio. And with her sophomore directorial effort, Don’t Worry Darling, the actress-turned-auteur has created her own self-sustaining ecosystem—the Stepford-like 1950s community of Victory. You can imagine Wilde gazing down, Godlike, at a maquette where every detail is perfectly period-accurate. “Designing this world made me Frank,” she says, referring to the alpha-male founder of Victory, played by Chris Pine. “Because I was saying, ‘This color will never be seen in my town, and I want everyone to wear these dresses, and this is the car I want to see.’”
But putting a project into the world, she has found, inevitably means relinquishing control. Wilde’s directorial debut, Booksmart, transformed the way Hollywood saw her, after nearly two decades in the business. But it has nothing, in terms of column inches, on Don’t Worry Darling, which has become the most talked-about movie of the year. (It came in at #1 its opening weekend, an impressive outing for a second-time director.)
That’s due in part to its intriguing premise, 18-studio bidding war origin story, and stacked cast, including Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, Pine, and Wilde herself. (Wilde has a turn as Bunny, “the all-knowing salty friend” who crackles with “an almost pickled cynicism.”) Outshining all the stars, though, is a media meta-narrative around the film that—with its themes of sexism and public scrutiny—oddly echoes that of the movie. Instagram gossip hub DeuxMoi doesn’t chronicle the day-to-day doings of Martin Scorsese, but Wilde is another story. In case you’re reading this from your home under a rock: She has been in the news for her reported relationship with Styles, a rumored feud with Pugh, and a disagreement with Shia LaBeouf about the backstory behind his departure from the movie (a conflict that was not yet aired when we spoke). Then there’s her contretemps with ex Jason Sudeikis, who served her custody papers when she was onstage promoting the film at CinemaCon.
Over tea, Wilde confides her disappointment with the way the story has been “minimized into bite-size TikTok points.” When I offer that it could be good publicity, she says her intention was not, as she jokes, to “throw myself into the flames for the movie.” She wants people to pay attention to what’s onscreen, and is frustrated that the press hasn’t. “This film is trying to ask big questions, but [it’s] ‘Let’s just focus on this sideshow over here,’” she says. “Having been a known figure for a while…makes me well-equipped to have a Teflon exterior. But it also means that you’re under a different kind of microscope. It’s brought my attention to the media and how it pits women against one another.” (For what it’s worth, she has nothing but praise for her leading lady. “She’s so generous in her acting in every scene. She makes everyone around her better.”)
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