The controversy surrounding director Olivia Wilde's follow-up to Booksmart, Don't Worry Baby, entered yet another chapter Friday when actor Shia LaBeouf hit back at Wilde for claims she made about him in the press earlier in the week.
A Variety profile of Wilde reported she fired LaBeouf from the drama and replaced him with singer Harry Styles because of his "combative" working style, which Wilde implied would make star Florence Pugh feel unsafe.
But on Friday, LaBeouf told Variety he had quit because of he and Wilde's differing approaches to the film. The actor supplied communications between him and Wilde that appear to prove it.
These include screenshots of text messages between him and Wilde along with a video—seen below—in which she begged him not to quit the film and claimed she could convince Pugh to put her concerns about him aside.
\u201cSOMEONE HOLD ME BACK \n\n(the video olivia sent shia where she basically begged him to stay on the movie after ADMITTING that she knows shia makes florence uncomfortable)\u201d— percy \ud83c\udf0a || who the fuck\u2019s gonna stop us ? (@percy \ud83c\udf0a || who the fuck\u2019s gonna stop us ?) 1661532934
Rumors of LaBeouf's having been fired swirled since long before Wilde's comments last week, beginning when he first departed the film two years ago in August 2020.
But texts between LaBeouf and Wilde shared with Variety show the two met on August 16, 2020 to discuss his exit from the project. The texts include a reply from Wilde thanking LaBeouf for his candor while bowing out of the film.
It reads in part:
“Thanks for letting me in on your thought process. I know that isn’t fun. Doesn’t feel good to say no to someone, and I respect your honesty.
LaBeouf officially withdrew from the film the following day.
The video message LaBeouf shared with Variety was allegedly sent by Wilde two days later on August 19, 2020. In it, Wilde implores LaBeouf to come back and claims she can convince Pugh to work with him despite her objections.
Wilde is heard saying:
“I feel like I’m not ready to give up on this yet, and I, too, am heartbroken and I want to figure this out."
"You know, I think this might be a bit of a wake-up call for Miss Flo, and I want to know if you’re open to giving this a shot with me, with us."
"If she really commits, if she really puts her mind and heart into it at this point and if you guys can make peace—and I respect your point of view, I respect hers—but if you guys can do it, what do you think? Is there hope?"
Shortly after LaBeouf withdrew from the film his former partner—musician FKA Twigs—filed suit against him alleging physical, sexual and emotional abuse.
LaBeouf has not denied the allegations, and attributes them to his struggles with addiction.
Though FKA Twigs' allegations and lawsuit were not made public until early 2021—some six months after LaBeouf's departure from Don't Worry Darling—many believe Pugh's discomfort with LaBeouf stemmed from his reputation as an abuser.
In emails from LaBeouf to Wilde which he also shared with Variety, the actor referenced these allegations. He accused Wilde of leveraging them—in tandem with the claim she fired him—to generate press for Don't Worry Darling.
"I know that you are beginning your press run for [Don't Worry Darling] and that the news of my firing is attractive clickbait, as I am still persona-non-grata and may remain as such for the rest of my life..."
“...Firing me never took place, Olivia. And while I fully understand the attractiveness of pushing that story because of the current social landscape, the social currency that brings, it is not the truth."
The Variety profile does not have Wilde on record as having explicitly said she fired LaBeouf.
On Twitter, many were astonished by this new chapter in the Don't Worry Darling saga—especially Wilde's seeming willingness to disregard Pugh's discomfort with working with LaBeouf.
\u201colivia wilde calling shia labeouf threatening to quit don't worry darling "a wake-up call for miss flo" is something i'm going to be thinking about for a long time\u201d— internet baby (@internet baby) 1661524472
\u201cFor those wondering why so many Olivia Wilde / Shia LaBeouf drops recently. It's the most revealing evidence of WHO Olivia is. Her actions in all the latest news SHOWS the WORLD who she REALLY is. Manipulative, fake, toxic, you name it. Revealing this is important #timesupolivia\u201d— Uncle Vizzy Says (@Uncle Vizzy Says) 1661743098
\u201colivia Wilde wanting Florence to "make peace" with an abuser then making up the narrative that she FIRED the shia LaBeouf for Flo's safety while she begged him to stay for the movie, making up the "I'm the feminist hero" story is the level of hypocrisy villians aspire to reach\u201d— \ud83c\udf59\ud83d\udef9 rheya ?! 1ST TRACK LT2 (@\ud83c\udf59\ud83d\udef9 rheya ?! 1ST TRACK LT2) 1661537533
\u201cThis Olivia Wilde gives a peak behind the curtain as to how abusers are still enabled in the entertainment industry. It also shows that public figures will lean into feminism for optics while not practicing it. \nShia Labeouf is a monster and she\u2019s an enabler. Both are awful.\u201d— Jessica Kwazz (@Jessica Kwazz) 1661557838
\u201cShia LaBeouf\u2019s reputation is in the dirt at this point and even he\u2019s handing out L\u2019s to Olivia Wilde.\u201d— Joe Doe (@Joe Doe) 1661524132
\u201cThe stupidest thing about this Olivia Wilde situation is how she thought that her recording a video to the person she lied about wouldn't somehow get out. Then thinking of all people, Shia LaBeouf wouldn't release it.\u201d— Scott Gilliland \ud83d\udd1c #TIFF22 (@Scott Gilliland \ud83d\udd1c #TIFF22) 1661554808
\u201colivia wilde framing herself as this huge feminist and lying about how the shia labeouf situation went down to pretend she was protecting florence while actually completely disregarding florences discomfort in the background and trying to get shia to rejoin the movie... so awful\u201d— funky little louis (@funky little louis) 1661539588
\u201cRemember what i said? Shia LaBeouf is horrible and disgusting however Olivia Wilde is not a good person for pretending like she gave a crap about the safety of Florence Pugh. \n\nIf Olivia had her way, Florence would have to suffer with Shia.\u201d— \u00bfStella? (@\u00bfStella?) 1661541326
\u201cFlorence Pugh deserved so much better. This movie is cursed. \n\nLabeouf was a known abuser. He SHOULD have been fired. Olivia Wilde prioritized her career. Shameful.\u201d— Cookie. \ud83c\udf39\ud83d\ude80 (@Cookie. \ud83c\udf39\ud83d\ude80) 1661660840
\u201cFlorence Pugh is right to just sit this one out and let Olivia Wilde and Shia LaBeouf further dig their own graves. It's very clear that even a woman director didn't have her safety in mind. Disgusting.\u201d— Jeff Nelson (@Jeff Nelson) 1661632478
As for Florence Pugh, the actor has so far refrained from commenting on the controversy.
But she reportedly agreed to do only one single night of press for Don't Worry Darling, lending credence to rumors she and Wilde have also fallen out over the course of making the film.