Well, she at least deserves credit for showing up.
While the stars of her new film Don’t Worry Darling have been canceling public appearances left and right—including Chris Pine, who bailed on Jimmy Kimmel at the last minute this week—Olivia Wilde boldly sat down next to Stephen Colbert on Wednesday for an interview and was immediately hit with some uncomfortable questions about the movie’s disastrous rollout.
The host began with some major flattery about how much he adored the new film, calling it “absolutely intriguing” and telling Wilde, “My first reaction watching the movie was it’s no mistake what you did in Booksmart, you belong in that director’s chair.”
Then came the questions about the various controversies. “After working for three years on something like this, it must be particularly frustrating to have people talking about a lot of things that aren’t the film itself.”
“Or are they?” Wilde joked as Colbert brought up everything from “reports of feuds” to “private messages being released,” a nod to the video actor Shia LaBeouf released that seemed to contradict the director’s claim that she let him go from the movie. “Is there anything or nothing in that list you would like to clear up?” he asked her.
“Well, you know, it’s interesting, the whole experience has sort changed my way of thinking about the internet [and] how we choose to interact with it, or not,” Wilde said, trying to spin the whole thing as an “ironic” echo of her film’s themes surrounding “the narratives we are fed and whether we choose to accept them or question their sources.” She implied that she was simply trying to “mediate” a conflict between LaBoeuf and the movie’s lead actress Florence Pugh and ultimately “chose my actress, which I’m very happy I did.”
“At the time, was I bummed that we weren’t able to make it work? Sure,” she added. “Did information about him come to light later that made me confident we made the right decision? Absolutely.”
Colbert then pressed for a more specific answer, asking, “Just to be clear here, did you fire Shia LaBeouf?”
“We had to replace Shia,” she replied. “He is a fantastic actor but it wasn’t going to work. And when he gave me the ultimatum of him or Florence, I chose Florence. And that was him feeling like he was stepping away and me feeling like we were moving on without him.”
When Colbert asked how it could be that LaBoeuf can claim he quit and Wilde can claim she fired him and they can “both be right,” she called it a “question of semantics,” adding, “It wasn’t going to move forward in the way he wanted it to, so he had to leave.”
After a commercial break, it seemed at first that Wilde was out of the woods as Colbert asked a handful of questions about the film itself. And yet shortly after praising the lead actress, he pivoted to ask, “Speaking of Florence Pugh, an amazing performance, let’s get to another question you shouldn’t have to answer. People say you are feuding with Florence Pugh. Is there anything you want to say to that?”
“No, the only thing I want to say to that…” Wilde replied, before casually mentioning “spit-gate.” With that, Colbert jumped to ask Wilde directly whether Harry Styles really did spit on co-star Pine at the Venice Film Festival. She flat-out denied the “weird rumor,” telling him, “No, he did not, but I think it’s a perfect example of, people will look for drama anywhere they can. Harry did not spit on Chris, in fact.”
“Only time will tell,” Colbert replied with a smirk as Wilde continued to insist that it never happened. “We shall see.”
“People can look at a video that shows evidence of someone not spitting on someone else and they will still see what they want to see,” she said. “And that is the creation of drama and that is clickbait.”
Colbert could have moved on, but instead he made sure to get that answer about Wilde and Pugh’s working relationship. “I have nothing but respect for Florence’s talent,” Wilde said, before blaming the whole controversy on misogyny. “I don’t feel like my male directing colleagues are answering questions about their cast.”
Defending himself, Colbert said Wilde is “exactly right” and directors should only have to speak about the work itself but since these questions have “consumed” the film he felt like he had no choice but to ask them anyway. Unfair or not, viewers never would have forgiven him for ignoring them.
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