Olivia Wilde is just weeks away from unveiling her second directorial effort, Don’t Worry Darling, to the world on September 23. In a new interview with Variety, she discussed the process of casting her now-boyfriend Harry Styles and that sex scene that made headlines upon the trailer release.
“Men don’t come in this film,” she told the publication of the scene in which Styles’ character, Jack, goes down on Florence Pugh’s Alice on a dining room table. “Only women here!”
“Female pleasure, the best versions of it that you see nowadays, are in queer films,” Wilde explained “Why are we more comfortable with female pleasure when it’s two women on film? In hetero sex scenes in film, the focus on men as the recipients of pleasure is almost ubiquitous.”
On the relationship between Jack and Alice, Wilde said that “it’s all about immediacy and extreme passion for one another,” before adding, “The impractical nature of their sex speaks to their ferocious desire for one another. I think it’s integral to the story itself and how the audience is meant to connect to them. My early conversations with the cast were all about how the audience has to buy into the fantasy.”
The actress and director also discussed her decision to cast Styles in the film, who was her first choice for Jack, but his touring schedule initially led to Shia LaBeouf taking the role. In 2020, as production was just starting, Wilde made the decision to fire LaBeouf. “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,” she told 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.”
A few months after LaBeouf’s was fired, his ex-girlfriend FKA Twigs, sued him for sexual battery. The actor then parted from his agency, CAA, and entered an inpatient facility.
“A lot came to light after this happened that really troubled me, in terms of his behavior,” Wilde said of the situation. “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.”
Styles’ tour was canceled when the pandemic hit, making his schedule free. “We found the perfect Jack, and luckily, it’s kind of magical that it ended up being our first choice,” Wilde said.
Styles also shared the best piece of advice Wilde gave him on the project: “The first step is to lose the Oscar you won in the shower that morning. Listen, and do the scene with your partner, not at them. Be a human, tell the truth.”