When you think about it, it’s a small, quotidian miracle that so many Hollywood press tours are such well-oiled, closely managed, borderline-bland affairs. After all, movies are made by sprawling webs of people who are by turns gorgeous and loony; charismatic and insecure; technical geniuses and creative dweebs; horny as hell. Drama is literally everyone’s livelihood! And yet thanks to a vast infrastructure of publicists and managers and handlers of shit, things typically proceed in a somewhat orderly fashion. Oh sure, stuff goes astray—cringe late-night appearances here, ill-advised hookups there—but by and large, those are typically isolated incidents, just some talent gone gloriously rogue.
And then there is Don’t Worry Darling, a film whose press tour has been busy answering the question, What if all the fail-safes failed at the same time? Like, what if a movie’s protective promotional scaffolding were to suffer the same sort of systemwide catastrophic meltdown as the one that famously cut power to those fences holding the velociraptors at bay? Don’t Worry Darling is a lovely vision on paper: Director Olivia Wilde’s second feature film, starring Florence Pugh and Harry Styles and Chris Pine. (And Nick Kroll!) And yet it has been going through the shredder, showering the world with random confetti as a result.
Such as the tales (and pics) of the met-on-set relationship between Wilde and Styles. Or the lead starlet, in Pugh, who doesn’t seem to particularly want to acknowledge she’s even in the film. Or Styles kissing Kroll, or Styles being accused of spitting on Pine. (Both at the premiere alone!) That’s not nearly all. The past few months, weeks, and days have involved process servers infiltrating Vegas schmoozefests, and Shia LaBeouf laying out some multimedia receipts. This press tour has distant White House roots, and it has recent drama so random that it even roped in a member of Oasis. I’m not complaining, truly, even if I’ve occasionally felt like everything I’ve learned about this movie has been against my will. So many vague Twitter trending topics that give way to never-ending rabbit holes! So many new links and Spitgate videos to parse in the group chats!
Don’t Worry Darling has romance and deceit; it has beautiful creatures wearing lucious garments and using bygone tech; it has mayhem behind a steering wheel; it has backstabbing and cocktails. Oh, I don’t mean the actual film, though all that is there, too. I mean everything but the film: the discourse and the press tour and the zeitgeist, baby! Here, to help sort things out, is an encyclopedia of absurdity, a compendium of conflict, a treasury of tight smiles. It is a celebration of the way a film about trophy wives has become a total triumph of entropy.
Aperol spritz (n.): An orange-tinted aperitif made with equal parts prosecco and Aperol and a splash of club soda, the Aperol spritz is refreshing, bitter, boosted by an aggressive marketing apparatus, and best served on ice—all of which makes it the perfect libation to pair with the Don’t Worry Darling premiere. On Monday, that’s exactly what Pugh did, arriving in Venice (mere minutes after Wilde had chalked up her absence from the film festival press conference to scheduling conflicts; the tiny elephant not in the room) clad in a purple multipiece Valentino ensemble that truly made her giant goblet of the colorful beverage pop as she held it up to a camera for an iconic, insouciant toast.
florence drinking aperol spritz instead of going to the press conference SHE’S SO REAL FOR THIS pic.twitter.com/8XhWEyjAJa— benny (@_harryisgoldenn) September 5, 2022
Booksmart (n.): The critically hailed 2019 one-crazy-night film starring Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein that was Wilde’s directorial debut and helped launch her into the echelon of actually coveted female directors. While many likened it to a feminist Superbad, Wilde preferred to think of it as “the Training Day of high school movies.” As of this writing, it has a 96 percent Certified Fresh Tomatometer score.
CinemaCon (n.): An industry gathering of movie theater owners held this April in Las Vegas, and the event where Wilde gave a presentation to promote Don’t Worry Darling, a presentation during which she was abruptly handed, while on stage, a manila envelope containing …
custody papers (n.): Legal documents related to child-care arrangements between two separated parental parties. In this case, the two parties were Wilde and her ex-fiancé, Jason Sudeikis, and the documents related to their two children were delivered by a process server who somehow had gained access to the CinemaCon event. At the time, it seemed like an ugly and awkward sideshow that threatened to derail the rollout of Wilde’s film. Little did anyone know it was just the opening act.
disposable camera (n.): A triumph of game-changing technoconsumerist innovation that once ruled social life at the turn o’ the century but has since become mostly obsolete, unless you’re the Luddite king Chris Pine squatting down to capture the perfect red carpet shot of a vamping Pugh with all the loving, doofy energy of a dad sending his daughter off to prom! I didn’t even know they made the cameras in red like that!!!
dissociate (v.): The act of mentally separating oneself from one’s thoughts and physical surroundings, typically in response to stress; the term has recently come up often as it relates to Pine’s various blank looks, dead eyes, and thousand-yard stares during his and his colleagues’ press obligations.
this picture keeps crossing my feed and I get momentarily disoriented each time that I’m missing an Olympics https://t.co/UjoZTN4Ene— katiebakes (@katiebakes) September 6, 2022
Dune: Part Two (n.): The feature film that Pugh is in the midst of shooting, giving her the plausible cloak of beaucoup “scheduling conflicts,” even as her costar Timothée Chalamet has somehow been extremely available to promote his other film …
Don’t Worry Darling (n.): A former Black List script that Wilde acquired, developed, and was once slated to star in before taking a supporting role instead in favor of Pugh. A Stepford Wives–esque thriller in which Pugh wraps her face in Saran Wrap and Styles wraps his face in—well, just watch the trailer. A film that, thanks to the past few days, I will now be absolutely racing to see, let me tell you! A film that for now, as of this writing, has a 43 percent Tomatometer score.
“Don’t You Worry Child” (n.): A single by Swedish House Mafia ft. John Martin that has, for some strange reason, not left my head for days, and will now not leave your head either, sorry.
expectorate (v.): The act of spitting, and the root of an extremely dumb but unfortunately kind of compelling question that gripped not just Hollywood, but all of international cinema: Did Harry Styles spit on Chris Pine? Pine’s rep said no way, but you be the judge of this century’s version of the Magic Loogie. (After viewing an alternate angle, and of course there is “an alternate angle,” I say no.)
Chris pine just wondered where his sunglasses were after the applause. And he zoned out (likes he’s been doing all day) and realised it’s in his lap. So I am sorry to say harry styles did not spit on him. pic.twitter.com/7b4GoCvnHJ— priscilla (@cinemazietgeist) September 6, 2022
front-facing camera (n.): A now-standard feature on most mobile devices, the front-facing camera enables users to capture selfie-style photos and videos with ease, such as while operating a moving vehicle. That’s what Wilde was doing when, driving home from a horseback riding session one morning, she [takes a deep breath] recorded an extremely ill-fated video message for Shia LaBeouf urging him to stay on the production, a video that the volatile actor would, two years later, release to the media as part of a defensive cache of receipts and emails intended to prove that he hadn’t been fired from the movie because of his “combative energy”—as Wilde put it in a recent Variety cover story—but had instead quit because of a lack of rehearsal time. As anyone who has accidentally hit the little selfie button by mistake knows, the front-facing camera tells no lies.
Granny Pat (n.) Pugh’s delightful grandmother, from whom she inherited her moves and with whom she walked the red carpet in Venice in a sort of wholesome human shield scenario.
Harry Styles (n.): X Factor contestant. One Direction frontman. Stevie Nicks enthusiast (and Stevie Nicks favorite). Lover. Wailer. Obsession of the Harries and the Stylers and the other various stan sects. Canoodler on Tuscan yachts with his gal pal … Wilde. Newbie actor whose first credit came in the Christopher Nolan film Dunkirk and whose third-ever credit is as a main character named Jack in Don’t Worry Darling. Styles was not the original actor set to play Jack. (That was LaBeouf, who departed the project in the summer of 2020, several months before he would be sued by former girlfriend and Honey Boy costar FKA Twigs for sexual battery and the infliction of emotional distress.) Earlier this week, Styles was asked to expound on the experience of joining and making the film. “You know,” he told reporters, as Pine dissociated beside him, “my favorite thing about the movie is, like, it feels like a movie. It feels like a real, like, you know, go-to-the-theater film, movie.”
Harry Styles got that Jason Kidd collar I can’t believe it pic.twitter.com/dKnSUTI81V— SLANDER MAN (@realonlinejack) September 5, 2022
Instagram (n.): The social media platform where Pugh is typically quite active promoting her work, which is why her lack of Don’t Worry Darling enthusiasm was an early canary in the coal mine.
Kaufmann Desert House (n.): A midcentury-modern marvel in Palm Springs, California, that was designed by architect Richard Neutra and immortalized in the Slim Aarons photo Poolside Gossip, which Wilde has said she had pinned on her wall as a reminder of the aesthetic she wanted to capture even before her location scout actually pulled off getting to shoot there. According to Wilde, Don’t Worry Darling was the first film shoot to ever take place at the Kaufmann Desert House, and “a really auspicious beginning!” Which must have been when the monkey’s paw closed another finger …
Kroll (n., v., adj.): A portmanteau of “kiss” + “troll,” which is what Styles merrily did when he planted a big ol’ smooch on comedian Nick Kroll during the Don’t Worry Darling premiere and created a whole new viral moment in a day already lousy with them. As a side note, Kroll’s affable, just-happy-to-be-there, downright forrestgumpian presence on the periphery of every viral press tour moment is currently the best detail about this film.
Another angle of Harry and Nick Kroll kissing at the world premiere of Don’t Worry Darling at the 79th Venice International Film Festival - September 5 (via carolinamicucci) pic.twitter.com/ddphilu7Gf— HSD (@hsdaily) September 5, 2022
Leslie Cockburn (n): Olivia Wilde’s mother, an Emmy-winning journalist who in the 2018 midterm elections ran for Congress in Virginia’s Fifth District and lost to a man named Denver Riggleman, whom she had accused, pretty much accurately, of being “a devotee of Bigfoot erotica.” This doesn’t actually have anything to do with Don’t Worry Darling. Or does it?
Liam Gallagher (n): One half of the band Oasis and joiner of the conversation.
Miss Flo (n.): No relation to Auntie, but still quite a mess, am I right? “You know, I think this might be a bit of a wake-up call for Miss Flo,” is what Wilde told LaBeouf of his impending departure in the infamous August 2020 selfie video she recorded for him. It was a nominal term of endearment that, when delivered, had a definite sneering bent. Its release further heightened tensions between Don’t Worry Darling’s director and lead actress—tensions that, according to Matthew Belloni of Puck and the Ringer Podcast Network, stemmed in part from Wilde and Styles’s distracting dalliances around the set. (The video also undermined Wilde’s comments to Variety that she had sought to protect her cast from LaBeouf.) On Monday, Pugh’s stylist, Rebecca Corbin-Murray, posted an Instagram of her client smoldering on the red carpet. “Miss Flo” was the caption; consider it officially reclaimed.
Saturday Night Live (n.): A live comedy variety program on NBC and a longtime fascination of Wilde’s; not only did she meet former cast member Sudeikis at one of the show’s wrap parties, she also gushed about the show the first time she met Al Franken when she was a tween, a story the two of them told in this deeply strange 2017 interview. Anyway, the odds of an SNL cold open this fall involving Don’t Worry Darling are currently sky-high, which will help bring everything full circle. As Harry would say: I hope you’re wearing your best clothes.
tap dance (v.): A type of creative movement performed by Styles in Don’t Worry Darling—“’Twas I, tap dancing,” he told Variety. “I feel like I’ve been waiting for someone to require a 35-second tap routine from me my whole life”—as well as by a large army of frantic and competing publicists, stylists, and spokespeople during the past couple of weeks.
Ted Lasso (n.): A smash-hit Apple TV+ show written by and starring Sudeikis as a Kansan football coach who takes a job coaching soccer in England in order to give his increasingly estranged wife more space—a plot line that took on even greater resonance when Sudeikis and Wilde’s split became known. Also a TV show in which Pugh reportedly had a cameo appearance that never made it to the screen, because of course she did?!
i wish they kept florence pughs cameo in ted lasso just to add another layer to all the drama happening rn pic.twitter.com/HceCVV24hu— ezra (@weltonsboys) September 6, 2022
the incels (n.): A term meaning “involuntary celibates” that Wilde used as a basis for some characters—a detail that piqued the attention of he and she whom shall not be named—and a term with which Maggie Gyllenhaal was unfamiliar.
the noise (n.): During the Venice Film Festival presser, Wilde was asked about Pugh’s absence. She praised the actress, then said: “As for all the endless tabloid gossip and all the noise out there, I mean, the internet feeds itself.” A Hollywood Reporter journalist tried to piggyback on that response by inquiring about all “the noise” surrounding the contested departure of LaBeouf in particular, but the inquiry was shut down by a panel moderator. “I think this question has been answered,” the moderator said, “when she talked about the internet.”
The Rehearsal (n.): The twisted meta-documentary series from the sick mind of Nathan Fielder that is about to have a hell of a Season 2.
But what if you could rehearse the big premiere in advance? It was the only way to ensure such a monumentally important event went according to plan. pic.twitter.com/higmnJethF— Lon Harris (@Lons) September 6, 2022
the whale (n.? v.? who’s to say?): The act of gulping water and spitting it straight up into the air in the manner of the great sea creature crossed with LeBron James throwing chalk; a crowd-pleasing move that Styles has been known to do on stage during concerts. There, now you can decipher this graduate-level Daily Mail headline: ‘Disappointed he didn’t do the whale over Chris!’ Harry Styles fans ask why singer didn’t pull famous One Direction move on Pine after apparently spitting on him at Don’t Worry Darling film premiere.
QAnon (n.): A dangerous conspiracy-minded web of online provocateurs that, of course, has a connection to a dedicated anti-Wilde Twitter account.
War of 1812 (n.): The three-year international 19th-century conflict between the United States of America and the United Kingdom. This war is noteworthy for being the only time since the American Revolution that a foreign adversary has seized and occupied the U.S. capital, which occurred when British troops, led by their Rear Admiral George Cockburn, burned the U.S. Capitol building as well as the White House. Rear Admiral George Cockburn is noteworthy for being Olivia Wilde’s (née Cockburn) distant kin.
War of the Worlds (n.): The 2005 Steven Spielberg adaptation whose press tour included Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s sofa, Tom Cruise calling Matt Lauer “glib,” and Tom Cruise getting squirted with water via a fake microphone. In other words, the platonic ideal of the disastrous press tour. So far, if War of the Worlds is the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins, Don’t Worry Darling has been the 2007 New England Patriots.
Warner Bros. (n): The official studio of this beautiful mess. In an interview, Wilde told Variety that she had interest in Don’t Worry Darling from 18 studios and streaming services, and that she went with Warners because she wanted a big theatrical release, dammit, and they were “the only place that promised me theatrical.” And how!!!
Don’t you get it? There IS no Don’t Worry Darling. All of this is the movie. The trailer, the feuds, the relationship, the custody papers, the press, spitting on Chris Pine, kissing Nick Kroll, all of this is the movie pic.twitter.com/GRa9Xn5Yo6— Frankie Becerra (@FrankiesYourFav) September 6, 2022
Valentino (n.): The official couture house of this beautiful mess. From Pugh’s nipple-happy pink confection earlier this summer to her purple neo-leisure suit earlier this week to her voluminous, va-va-voom black gown at the film’s premiere, Pugh has utterly broken the internet all while wearing a designer who first had his big breakthrough in … Florence.
Variety (n.): The official magazine of this beautiful mess. While Don’t Worry Darling already had a few storm clouds on its horizon, it was Wilde’s interview with reporter Elizabeth Wagmeister that hit like a crack of lightning and began to scorch the earth around it. (See also: front-facing camera; Miss Flo.)
Venice Film Festival (n.): The oldest film festival in the world, and maybe the most chaotic: Its 90-year history includes, but is not limited to, an award once named after Mussolini; a Grand Jury prize for Roman Polanski; the time Lars von Trier emerged from film festival exile via a video chat with Stellan Skarsgard; and, now, Zapruder footage of a pop star’s saliva.
Zach Braff (n.): Garden State and Scrubs impresario. Florence Pugh’s ex-boyfriend. Received an Emmy nomination for directing an episode of Ted Lasso. And so, in conclusion, the man I believe to be ultimately responsible for just about every entry here, up to and including War of 1812. It’s the only thing, really, that would make all this chaos make any sense.