darling we're worried

Where Were You When Harry Styles (Allegedly But Probably Didn’t) Spit on Chris Pine?

Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

On Monday, September 5, as Americans were attempting to ease their brains out of Labor Day weekend mode and back into the business of actual labor, the internet raised a question that will be debated forever in history and film classes: Did Harry Styles spit on Chris Pine at the Venice Film Festival premiere of Don’t Worry Darling?

One’s immediate response — at least before spending six hours rewatching the clip of the alleged spitting from a variety of angles — was: No, of course not! The most beloved androgynously dressed mainstream pop star in the world absolutely would not have expelled saliva directly onto one of his Don’t Worry Darling co-stars and the indisputable Best Chris. The man’s motto is “Treat People With Kindness,” not “Spit on People With Malice.” Harry would never!

But the thing is, there’s footage of the incident. Okay, fine: There is an extremely inconclusive video of Styles taking his seat in the theater and slightly pursing his lips, at which point Pine looks into his lap and suddenly stops clapping, then flashes an expression that, to those with the imagination to interpret it this way, definitely said, Holy shit, the “Watermelon Sugar” guy just spit on me. Could this day get any more ridiculous?

Now, to be fair, the whole situation hovering around the Don’t Worry Darling Venice debut was rife with weirdness. I won’t recap that entire saga here, but there is plenty. Earlier that day, there was drama surrounding Florence Pugh, the film’s star who skipped its press conference because of “scheduling conflicts” around the Dune sequel that seemed less than legitimate. (Is it a coincidence that Pugh’s triumphant Aperol-spritz walk is vaguely reminiscent of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s martini spin in the video for “Treat People With Kindness?” You tell me, social media, you tell me.)

Perhaps more significant, another Styles-Pine collab went viral earlier on Monday, in which Styles gave a nonsensical answer to a reporter’s question while Pine sat beside him in silence, seemingly trying to beam himself to another location, a thing that, as Captain Kirk, I feel he should have some capacity to pull off? I continue to contend that there is no evidence of physical spit, slobber, or moisture of any kind in the Styles “spitting” video. But in that clip of Pine listening to Styles say, “My favorite thing about the movie is, like, it feels like a movie,” you can absolutely see Pine’s soul leave his body.

(To be fair to Harry: You try uttering a single comprehensible sentence after playing nine nights at Madison Square Garden, then traveling internationally with bespoke-chic but extremely impractical luggage and see how articulate you sound.)

Because of the rumored drama on set and the actual drama in recent headlines, film Twitter and the general public were already prepared, if not downright eager, to see some strange interpersonal celebrity dynamics play out at this premiere. But no one anticipated spitting would enter the chat.

Once it did — and yes, the Spit is the new Slap in some circles — the internet did what it does best: run with this very much unverified allegation like a wide receiver sprinting madly for the nearest end zone. Within a couple of hours, the clip was shared widely and turned into the Zapruder film of 2022, or, if you prefer, that Seinfeld episode where Newman and Kramer accuse Keith Hernandez of spitting on them. We needed answers to this mystery, and we needed them ASAP.

So we watched the clip multiple times, then we watched it a few times more in full-screen mode. We watched it in slow motion. We watched it from another angle. We watched and contemplated whether Styles had actually spit gum and not mere liquid from his mouth. We watched yet again and wondered whether that lady with the camera directly behind Pine may have some intel she would be willing to share with the congressional committee that will inevitably be convened to investigate this matter.

We also asked why: Why would Harry Styles, who showed up earlier this year on the cover of Better Homes & Gardens for some reason, spit on someone, especially at such a high-profile moment? Spitting on someone: That’s not Harry’s (sorry) style. That’s a total Shia move. (Oooh, was that too soon?)

Why didn’t Wilde, who was sitting on the other side of Pine and conspicuously not acting like a woman who inspired the song “Cinema,” react more visibly if Styles had actually spit on Pine? Also — and this part of the inquiry was vital — why weren’t a few droplets visible at all in any of these clips? If someone spits with purpose, they usually produce a decent glob to get their point across. If Styles had spit with intent to injure, we should be able to see something travel through the air of that theater.
Finally, around 11:30 p.m., a Twitter user known only as Priscilla brought sanity back into the conversation and (seemingly) cracked the case.

This made sense! A zoned out Pine realizes just as Styles sits down that his sunglasses are sitting in his lap after (I assume) privately wondering where they went. That “You’ve gotta be kidding me” expression and shake of Pine’s head is him laughing at himself for being so spacey. Further evidence to support this: As the lights go down, Pine puts on his sunglasses immediately, bolstering the theory that he was relieved to find them and knew he would need them again soon. Admittedly, donning sunglasses is a weird thing to do inside a theater at the start of a film, but not at all a weird thing to do if your whole plan for this surreal-ass day is to try to disengage from it as much as possible. All evidence of the press day for Don’t Worry Darling suggests that was exactly Pine’s strategy.

Almost a full day later, reps for Pine and Styles responded to Variety’s request for comment and denied that Styles spit on Pine. Don’t be ridiculous was the vibe of both statements. Still no word on what made Pine react in the way he did and whether his sunglasses are to blame. Harry even joked about it at his most recent tour spot, quipping “I just popped over to Venice to spit on Chris Pine, but fear not, we’re back!” So that drama seems pretty well squashed, right?

Wait, what’s that? Hold on: You’re saying Styles spat on Pine even though we can’t see the spit, and he did it on purpose after Wilde told him to while noting that — and I’m quoting directly from something she definitely did not say — “all press is good press”? Wow, that seems extremely implausible. But you know what, let’s look at that clip one more time just to make sure.

This post has been updated with additional information.

Where Were You When Harry Styles Spit on Chris Pine?