Pugh stars in Wilde’s forthcoming psychological thriller opposite Harry Styles.
However, the role was originally given to Shia LaBeouf, who was let go from the film when production began.
While it was said at the time that LaBeouf left due to “scheduling conflicts”, Wilde has now said in an interview that she fired the actor in order to create a “safe, trusting environment” on set.
“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,” Wilde 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.”
However, following the release of this interview, LeBeouf denied Wilde’s story and claimed that he did leave the production of his own accord. The actor shared an email with Variety, which he’d originally sent to Wilde, that stated he “couldn’t find time to rehearse” with the other actors.
Following LaBeouf’s exit from the film, his ex-girlfriend FKA twigs sued him for “relentless abuse” including sexual battery, assault, and infliction of emotional distress.
In February 2021, LaBeouf denied causing twigs “any injury or loss”, saying that she was not “entitled to any relief or damages whatsoever”.
Discussing the singer’s claims about LaBeouf, Wilde said: “A lot came to light after this happened that really troubled me, in terms of his behaviour. 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.”
The trial date for twigs’s case against LaBeouf has been set for 17 April 2023.
The Independent has approached LaBeouf’s representatives for comment.