“Don’t worry honey” has been in the spotlight since its inception. And this was long before Harry Styles got involved.
It was a film everyone wanted to make – some 18 studios and streaming services sought Wilde for the chance to work with her on her second feature film as a director: a mid-century psychological thriller about a housewife, Alice (Florence Pugh), who begins to question her beautiful life and the mysterious company her husband Jack (Styles) works for.
But it hasn’t stopped making headlines for the past two years, from the abrupt departure of Shia LaBeouf (he was replaced by Styles) to the paparazzi-fueled intrigue surrounding Wilde and Styles’ off-camera relationship. Then there was the bizarre moment earlier this year when Wilde received custody papers from ex Jason Sudeikis, with whom she shares two children, in the middle of a presentation in front of thousands of exhibitors in Las Vegas.
Even last week, LaBeouf, who is going to court next year on charges of abuse by his ex, FKA twigs, decided to challenge the two-year-old story that he was fired. He gave the entertainment trade Variety emails and texts to prove his case that he stopped. It’s resulted in buzz you can’t buy, as well as incessant gossip and TikTok gossip – all for a movie that isn’t even out yet.
But soon the conversation will return to the film itself: “Don’t Worry Darling” makes a glamorous debut at the Venice International Film Festival on September 5 before opening in theaters across the country on September 23. Besides, Wilde doesn’t care what brings people to the theater – as long as they go.
Wilde recently spoke to The Associated Press about her vision, her disagreement with the rating board, and why Alice is the heroine we need now. Notes have been edited for clarity and brevity.
AP: What were some of the big ideas you wanted to explore?
WILD: I wanted to make what (screenwriter) Katie (Silberman) and I always describe as a Trojan Horse movie: something that’s beautiful and entertaining on the outside, but once you get inside it’s actually much more complex and potentially very interesting and challenging. I also really understood that this would be an opportunity for an actress to really bow. It was a heroine I wanted to see on screen. I wanted to create a character with an actress who would represent the kind of woman I think our society needs.
AP: You originally intended to play the part of Alice. Were you happy with that decision to step back and play a supporting role?
WILD: Oh yes. There’s no part of me that would want it any other way. I think what Florence did with this role is extremely brilliant. This character is a heroine for all ages. And she, as an actress, is this rare combination of dramatically proficient, comically brilliant and an action hero who can run like Tom Cruise. Like what actress can do stunts and perform these incredible emotional acrobatics and do it so effortlessly with an accent that isn’t even theirs? Like, come on. It’s like juggling upside down on the wing of an airplane.
AP: You’ve talked about some of your stylistic influences, from Slim Aarons’ photography to Adrian Lyne’s erotic thrillers. What were some other touchstones?
WILDE: I’m a big fan of the iconography of the fifties and a lot of the art, architecture, cars, music. This was a chance to just really play in that world. The architectural influence of (Richard) Neutra can be found throughout the film. (Cinematographer) Matty Libatique and I were really inspired by Alex Prager and her photography and the idea of creating fear through framing and this artificial world that would be incredibly attractive until you look very close.
And I always make endless playlists and watchlists and reading lists. It was a very funny assortment of material. People were like, what kind of movie is this? You want me to watch “Requiem for a Dream” and “The Truman Show” and “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”, and you want me to read “The Feminine Mystique” but also Jordan Peterson?
AP: “Booksmart” was very candid about female sexuality, and “Don’t Worry Darling” is already sparking conversations around some of the sexual acts shown in the trailer. Was that a fight to even include that?
WILD: Oh, yes. There was a lot to get out of the trailer. The MPA came down hard on me and the trailer at the last minute and I had to snap some shots, which I was mad about thinking they would kick it up a notch. But of course we still live in a truly puritan society. I think the lack of eroticism in American film is a bit new. Then when it comes to female pleasure, it’s something we don’t see often, unless you’re talking about queer cinema. You know, it’s interesting because in a lot of gay movies the female characters are allowed to have more fun. The public is not as puritanical as companies think they are. And yet people get angry. I mean, people are already mad about this. I think it’s proof of the movie. We want to provoke. The idea is not to make you feel safe.
AP: This is also a movie that has been in the spotlight from the start, resulting in both buzz and gossip. What was that like for you as a filmmaker?
WILDE: Every filmmaker longs for people to see their film. That’s all you want people to see. When people are excited about a movie for whatever reason, you hope they come in. Whether you’re a 50’s car buff and that’s what you’ll get in this movie, or if you’re just going because you’re a fan of our incredible cast, all I care about is that you have the chance to see it. to see, and I hope people then have the instinct to share it. What I really hope is that people see it again. I think it’s a real second watch movie. There are many Easter eggs in it.
Follow AP film writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr