It might have felt like a fever dream, but Monday’s seriously messy Don’t Worry Darling press day and premiere at Venice Film Festival really did happen.
The movie has been riddled with drama for weeks now, but it all came to a head as the cast reunited on the red carpet for some seriously awkward group photos before ascending into the movie theater for a screening.
Much of the film’s controversy has stemmed from a rumored feud between its director, Olivia Wilde, and lead actor, Florence Pugh, with a 2020 video of Olivia referring to her leading lady as “Miss Flo” and saying that she needed a “wake up call” leaking online less than two weeks before they were set to come face to face.
Soon after the video leaked, it was confirmed that the premiere would be Florence’s only Don’t Worry Darling press commitment, and her pointed absence from the cast press conference that took place earlier in the day was heightened when she strutted through Venice with an Aperol Spritz in hand while her costars spoke to members of the press.
The tension between Florence and Olivia was palpable at the premiere, with Florence enthusiastically greeting every single person on the red carpet apart from her director, and her costar Harry Styles, who Olivia started dating while shooting the movie.
But in an unexpected twist, Monday’s drama far exceeded the two women’s assumed rift as people also picked up on Harry’s strange behavior at the premiere.
Many noted that he too appeared to be purposefully avoiding Olivia on the red carpet, and at one point seemingly refused to stand next to her for a group photo.
Things got even stranger once inside the theater, and Florence and Harry’s costar, Chris Pine, found himself at the center of the biggest scandal of the night despite managing to avoid much of the furore surrounding Don’t Worry Darling up until this point.
Highlighting the tension behind-the-scenes, Olivia, Harry, and Florence were all separated from each other in the seating arrangements, with their costars acting as human buffers.
Gemma Chan sat between Florence and Harry, and on Harry’s other side was Chris — who separated him from Olivia.
In a clip that quickly went viral — and that you have probably already watched a million times over — Harry can be seen making his way over to his seat while Chris, who is already seated, applauds his entrance.
Right before Harry sat down, Chris abruptly stopped, looked down at his lap and paused for a moment. He then appeared to shake his head in apparent disbelief while smiling to himself with a bemused look on his face.
Internet sleuths were desperate to work out what had prompted this reaction, and before long it was claimed that Harry had spat onto Chris’s lap as he sat down.
Slow-motion replays of the video appeared to confirm that Harry did indeed make a spitting movement with his mouth right before Chris stopped his applause.
The actor’s glance at his lap also appeared to perfectly coordinate with where Harry’s spit would have landed on him, and it wasn’t long before social media was alight with reactions to the theory.
“The don’t worry darling drama is getting more and more absurd like what do you mean harry styles [spins wheel] spit on [spins wheel] chris pine,” one popular tweet read.
“My mind is stuck on the very real possibility that harry styles spit on chris pine i can’t stop rewinding the tape,” someone else wrote. A third tweeted: “Idk what all the harry styles drama is but i’d like to publicly state that he could spit on me.”
“I choose to believe harry styles spit on chris pine bc life is more fun that way,” one more joked.
But on Tuesday, Chris’s rep vehemently denied that the actor had been spat on by his costar, and released a statement that put the video down to ill-timed body language from both stars as they insisted that Harry and Chris are on good terms.
“This is a ridiculous story — a complete fabrication and the result of an odd online illusion that is clearly deceiving and allows for foolish speculation,” the statement read. “Just to be clear, Harry Styles did not spit on Chris Pine. There is nothing but respect between these two men and any suggestion otherwise is a blatant attempt to create drama that simply does not exist.”
Harry’s rep declined to comment at the time, but on Wednesday night the man himself acknowledged the drama during his live show at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
The popstar couldn’t resist joking about the incident with fans, and delivered the best possible response following the days-long discourse.
Harry had taken a break from the US leg of his world tour to attend the film festival on Monday, and in his first performance since the premiere, he acknowledged his absence as he said: “It’s wonderful, wonderful, wonderful to be back in New York.”
“I just popped very quickly to Venice to spit on Chris Pine,” he cheekily added.
Needless to say, the crowd went wild and it wasn’t long before videos of the moment spread like wildfire online as Harry was celebrated for his playful reaction.
Someone wrote: “The way harry jokes about the spitting on chris pine thing made me ROLL.” A second added: “Not Harry talking about the spit drama and laughing.”
Another fan said: “Harry laughing ab the spit issue as if we didn’t have to work over time as defense lawyers on twt to prove he’s innocent.” One more tweeted: “Harry coming back to us after that shitshow of a day and laughing about it yeah baby come back to the fam!! cinema ppl don’t deserve you.”
Of course #spitgate wasn’t the only viral moment between Harry and Chris during Don’t Worry Darling’s press day, with a clip of Chris staring into the void while Harry told a journalist: “My favorite thing about the movie is, like, it feels like a movie,” also causing a stir online.
Meanwhile, Florence continued to fuel speculation that she had a bad on-set experience with the movie when fans noted that she made six Instagram grid posts about Venice Film Festival, but only mentioned Don’t Worry Darling once, in the form of a hashtag.
And despite all of the hype and drama that has surrounded the film, it has received lukewarm reviews from critics and currently has a 44% rating on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes.