auteur theory

A Famous Director’s ‘Really Terrible Advice’ Inspired Olivia Wilde’s No-Assholes Policy

Photo: Anthony Harvey/Shutterstock

The world first got wind of Olivia Wilde’s no-assholes policy as a director last year, when she fired Shia LaBeouf from her upcoming marital drama Don’t Worry Darling for, well, embodying the spirit of that word. (Harry Styles ended up replacing him in the role, and we know how that’s going.) But in a new Variety conversation with fellow director Emerald Fennell, Wilde said that the policy was born from wanting to eschew the idea that “great art has to come from a place of discomfort and anxiety,” which is what she was advised to do by a certain Hollywood legend. “Someone, who’s a very established actor and director in this industry, gave me really terrible advice that was helpful, because I just knew I had to do the opposite,” she explained. “They said, ‘Listen, the way to get respect on a set, you have to have three arguments a day. Three big arguments that reinstate your power, remind everyone who’s in charge, be the predator.’ That is the opposite of my process. And I want none of that.” We think we know who she’s talking about, but we’ll check our compass.

“The no-assholes policy, it puts everybody on the same level,” Wilde continued. “I also noticed as an actress for years how the hierarchy of the set separated the actors from the crew in this very strange way that serves no one … the idea of, don’t bother the actors and keep them separate, and don’t look at them. I think it makes everyone quite anxious.” Wilde, who’s currently in the midst of filming Don’t Worry Darling, made her directorial debut in 2019 with Booksmart, a perfect teen movie always worth a rewatch.

Famous Director Inspired Olivia Wilde’s ‘No Assholes’ Policy