Voices: Did ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ live up to the hype? Only in very weird ways

·4-min read
Harry Styles on the ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ red carpet  (Getty)
Harry Styles on the ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ red carpet (Getty)

There’s been very few Hollywood films where the press tour was more exciting than the actual movie. Indeed, press tours are often a bland affair. An actor in a movie they’re promoting will often make their required late-night television appearance, and some will even have a three-page feature in a glossy magazine. It’s all pretty standard stuff while we wait to see the main event. But what happens when the offscreen drama, hookups, firings, and possible spit takes are much more tantalizing than the movie itself? Answer: We get Don’t Worry Darling.

From the moment it was announced that Olivia Wilde would direct the film, the star-studded Don’t Worry Darling generated hype on social media. Florence Pugh – a massive hit in Midsommar – was set to play the lead in the psychological thriller. Harry Styles was cast as her onscreen husband — and everyone knows that wherever Harry Styles goes, he brings millions of fans and a huge amount of attention. Chris Pine, Nick Kroll, Gemma Chan and my personal favorite, Brooklyn comedian Kate Berlant, had signed on too. It was like if stan Twitter fancasted a movie on Letterboxd.

Almost as soon as production began in the summer of 2020, moments from the set started to seep onto social media. One fan captured a video of a slicked-back Harry Styles in character and posted it on Twitter, where it was then viewed more than 85,000 times. Photos of Florence Pugh driving around in a vintage convertible were also leaked online as fans excitedly talked up what should surely be her best performance yet. Time magazine even named Don’t Worry Darling one of its most anticipated movies of 2022.

But as the age-old saying goes: Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Or in this case, where there’s lots of hot people collaborating together on the most popular movie of the year, there’s bound to be DeuxMoi blind items from the set.

The social media hype surrounding Don’t Worry Darling took a turn in 2021 when rumors of an offscreen romance between Olivia Wilde and Harry Styles, and an alleged feud between a “gorgeous female director” and her female lead, began circulating online – specifically on DeuxMoi, Instagram’s infamous celebrity gossip account.

“Guaranteed once this movie that everyone’s waiting for comes out, a ton of tea will be spilled xoxo — one of the many PAs waiting to spill some tea,” read one anonymous tip on DeuxMoi’s Instagram story with the somewhat menacing email subject: “Be worried.” Of course, all of this was unconfirmed hearsay, but social media users took it upon themselves to actually believe it.

And why wouldn’t they? The pandemic halted all theatrical releases for the foreseeable future, and whatever was released went direct-to-streaming. We hadn’t seen so much hype surrounding a movie since Lady Gaga promoted House of Gucci, and in doing so played the iconic role of Liar Doing A Press Tour. The singer claimed to have written an 80-page biography in preparation for her role as Patrizia Gucci, said she believed that the real Patrizia had sent “swarms of flies” to follow her around, and told Variety that she had a psychiatric nurse on set towards the end of filming. If that’s not genius marketing, I don’t know what is. After all that was over, we were salivating for the glory days of Hollywood drama — and Don’t Worry Darling gave us that.

Turns out, some of the rumors might’ve actually been true. Olivia Wilde and Harry Styles took their romance public in January of 2021, two months after the director announced her split from Jason Sudeikis. And while we’ll never know for sure the subject of the alleged feud between Olivia and “Miss Flo,” we can assume that the hiring and subsequent firing of Shia LaBeouf might have something to do with it.

Nowhere during the press tour did anyone on social media say, at least to my recollection, that Don’t Worry Darling was supposed to be the best movie we’ve ever seen. And having watched it on its opening night, I can confirm that it isn’t. It isn’t the worst movie, either. I mean, Harry Styles said it best: “My favorite thing about the movie is, like, it feels like a movie.”

Despite Florence Pugh’s phenomenal acting efforts, Don’t Worry Darling failed to deliver on the Stepford Wives-meets-Get Out nightmare it promised. The cinematography was stunning, the costuming was magical, and Wilde clearly wasn’t afraid to take big visual leaps as a director. But Don’t Worry Darling rushes to find a conclusion after a climactic twist that doesn’t stick the landing, leaving the audience with whiplash — and a few unanswered questions.

Indeed, perhaps “whiplash” is an accurate word to describe the entirety of the Don’t Worry Darling saga. Its social media hype was big and its press tour was full of bizarre moments and juicy gossip. But now that the movie is actually here, all of that just ends. Much like the conclusion to the movie, we’re left wanting more.

At least we’ll always have the Don’t Worry Darling press tour.