Gossip has once again joined the Don’t Worry Darling press tour. The Olivia Wilde–directed thriller just can’t seem to escape the chatter surrounding the Truman Show–esque film. Specifically, chatter that alleges a pay disparity between leads Harry Styles and Florence Pugh, among other drama. And in a new Variety cover story, Wilde flat-out denies the rumors that Styles was paid three times more than Pugh. “There has been a lot out there that I largely don’t pay attention to. But the absurdity of invented clickbait and subsequent reaction regarding a nonexistent pay disparity between our lead and supporting actors really upset me,” she says. “I’m a woman who has been in this business for over 20 years, and it’s something that I have fought for myself and others, especially being a director. There is absolutely no validity to those claims.” The pay-gap allegations come after a months-long rumored rift between Pugh and Wilde over the director’s onset romance with Styles (which they’re keeping on the down low out of respect for, using Wilde’s own phrase, their “deep love”).
All of these rumors have fueled weeks of headlines in celebrity columns. When you add the director’s separation from Ted Lasso’s Jason Sudeikis to the mix, you’re left with enough gossip fodder for Wilde herself to comment on the state of the tabloid. “The whole culture of celebrity gossip is interesting as a distracting tool to numb people from the greater pains of the world,” she says. “Escapism is really a very human quality, searching for something to anesthetize the painful reality of so many people’s lives. I don’t blame people for seeking escapism, but I think the tabloid media is a tool to pit women against one another and to shame them.” Wilde then tells Variety that we’re all complicit in this infinite drama machine at the cost of our “empathy.” Women, she says, suffer the most. “We’ve just lost empathy, and we just don’t give people the benefit of the doubt — specifically women,” she muses. “We just assume the worst from women, and I don’t know why.” Well, we can probably add misogyny to the list of reasons.