Alice (Florence Pugh) and Jack (Harry Styles) are lucky to be living in the idealized community of Victory, the experimental company town housing the men who work for the top-secret Victory Project and their families. The 1950’s societal optimism espoused by their CEO, Frank (Chris Pine)—equal parts corporate visionary and motivational life coach—anchors every aspect of daily life in the tight-knit desert utopia.
While the husbands spend every day inside the Victory Project Headquarters, working on the “development of progressive materials,” their wives—including Frank’s elegant partner, Shelley (Chan)—get to spend their time enjoying the beauty, luxury and debauchery of their community. Life is perfect, with every resident’s needs met by the company. All they ask in return is discretion and unquestioning commitment to the Victory cause.
But when cracks in their idyllic life begin to appear, exposing flashes of something much more sinister lurking beneath the attractive façade, Alice can’t help questioning exactly what they’re doing in Victory, and why. Just how much is Alice willing to lose to expose what’s really going on in this paradise.
From New Line Cinema comes “Don’t Worry Darling,” directed by Olivia Wilde (“Booksmart”) and starring Florence Pugh (Oscar-nominated for “Little Women”), Harry Styles (“Dunkirk”), Wilde (upcoming “Babylon”), Gemma Chan (“Crazy Rich Asians”), KiKi Layne (“The Old Guard”) and Chris Pine (“All the Old Knives”).
Alice (Pugh) and Jack (Styles) are lucky to be living in the idealized community of Victory, the experimental company town housing the men who work for the top-secret Victory Project and their families. The 1950’s societal optimism espoused by their CEO, Frank (Pine)—equal parts corporate visionary and motivational life coach—anchors every aspect of daily life in the tight-knit desert utopia.
While the husbands spend every day inside the Victory Project Headquarters, working on the “development of progressive materials,” their wives—including Frank’s elegant partner, Shelley (Chan)—get to spend their time enjoying the beauty, luxury and debauchery of their community. Life is perfect, with every resident’s needs met by the company. All they ask in return is discretion and unquestioning commitment to the Victory cause.
But when cracks in her idyllic life begin to appear, exposing flashes of something much more sinister lurking beneath the attractive façade, Alice can’t help questioning exactly what they’re doing in Victory, and why. Just how much is Alice willing to lose to expose what’s really going on in this paradise?
An audacious, twisted and visually stunning thriller, “Don’t Worry Darling” is a powerhouse feature from director Olivia Wilde that boasts intoxicating performances from Florence Pugh and Harry Styles, surrounded by the impressive and pitch-perfect cast.
The film also stars Nick Kroll (“How It Ends”), Sydney Chandler (“Pistol”), Kate Berlant (“Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood”), Asif Ali (“WandaVision”), Douglas Smith (“Big Little Lies”), Timothy Simons (“Veep”) and Ari’el Stachel (“Respect the Jux”).
Wilde directs from a screenplay penned by her “Booksmart” writer Katie Silberman, based on a story by Carey Van Dyke & Shane Van Dyke (“Chernobyl Diaries”) and Silberman. The film is produced by Wilde, Silberman, Miri Yoon and Roy Lee, with Richard Brener, Celia Khong, Alex G. Scott, Catherine Hardwicke, Carey Van Dyke and Shane Van Dyke executive producing.
Wilde is joined behind the camera by two-time Oscar-nominated director of photography Matthew Libatique (“A Star Is Born,” “Black Swan”), production designer Katie Byron (“Booksmart”), editor Affonso Gonçalves (“The Lost Daughter”), Oscar-nominated composer John Powell (“Jason Bourne”), music supervisor Randall Poster (“No Time to Die”) and three-time Oscar nominee, costume designer Arianne Phillips (“Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood”).
A New Line Cinema presentation, “Don’t Worry Darling” will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures and is set to open in theaters internationally beginning 21 September 2022 and in North America on September 23, 2022.
“Don’t Worry Darling” is rated R by the MPA for sexuality, violent content and language.
This psychological thriller is my love letter to the movies that push the boundaries of our imagination. Imagine a life where you had everything you ever wanted. And not just the material or tangible things, like a beautiful house, gorgeous cars, delicious food, endless parties… but the things that really matter. Like true love with the perfect partner, and the best friends, and a purpose that feels meaningful. What would it take for you to give that up? What are you willing to sacrifice in order to do what’s right? Are you willing to dismantle the system that is designed to serve you? What if your only choice is really no choice at all? That’s the world, and the question, of “Don’t Worry Darling.”
—Olivia Wilde, filmmaker
Are you ready to live the life you deserve?
While the world of “Don’t Worry Darling” presents as a luxurious lifestyle that harkens back to the Rat Pack era, with all the outward glamor (and entrenched gender roles) of the times, for filmmaker Olivia Wilde, the immediate draw was the chance to investigate the underlying story and themes with a focused gaze and shifted viewpoint that made her truly eager to dive into helming the project.
The director / producer / performer remembers that beneath the perfectly polished veneer, “I was really intrigued by the overarching concept behind ‘Don’t Worry Darling’—what does it take for someone to do the right thing, despite the massive sacrifice at hand? More specifically, the idea of someone living in a society, designed entirely for their comfort, only to discover that that society is corrupt. Can you be the one to recognize that it’s inherently wrong and should be dismantled? As a filmmaker, I was drawn to this original story featuring a heroine who is brilliant, nuanced and complex.”
Screenwriter, story writer and producer Katie Silberman, Wilde’s recent collaborator on the critical and popular “Booksmart,” relates, “Olivia and I began to talk about what we could do with the concept and tell a story that was about friendship, romance and an individual courageous enough to face down an entire society. We had just worked together and were eager to do so again. We realized this idea was something we could take and run with, working within an allegory and in the framework of a psychological thriller. We were very excited by it.”
To portray her heroine, Alice—one-half of a deliriously happy couple—Wilde cast an actress who can be at once mid-century and modern, Florence Pugh, and starring as her adoring husband: Harry Styles.
The provocative, relatable themes of the project piqued Pugh’s interest: “It’s about so many different dynamics. It’s about control, manipulation, oppression, relationships, sexual fantasies. It’s about how do you keep your life perfect and when it’s not… what are you going to do about it?”
Styles, who plays upwardly mobile Jack, says, “I think, in general, this is about relationships, and trust, and betrayal, and love, and passion, and sex, and the sun, and… Palm Springs.”
Wilde had come across story writers / executive producers Carey and Shane Van Dyke’s concept, which “really came after browsing through old 1950’s advertisements, many of which paint a picture of an ‘oh so perfect’ patriarchal society, with women there to serve their always smiling husbands. Some are so bad it’s hard to believe they were real. The world depicted felt almost artificial to us. Then, it was a matter of looking at the real world and realizing that it feels like we’re moving backwards to that time. Suddenly, the world depicted in those ads became a very terrifying place in our minds, especially for a woman, and we knew we had to find a way in and explore through the lens of a psychological thriller,” supply the Van Dykes.
Wilde immediately turned to Silberman, who, equally inspired by the Van Dyke’s central premise, worked with Wilde, setting the tale in an unfamiliar town shrouded in mystery—Victory—and built the experimental community from the ground up.
The Van Dykes state, “It was always very important to us to have a woman’s perspective in telling the story. So, there were a lot of conversations with, first, the women in our lives to help guide us, then our producers at Vertigo, Miri Yoon and Roy Lee, and [executive producer] Catherine Hardwicke. But, it was Katie and Olivia who really landed it. Having been huge fans of ‘Booksmart,’ we couldn’t have been more thrilled. Katie’s an incredible writer and a lovely person who does wonders with bringing people into the female experience. She’s what the story and the character needed and there’s no one better we can think of to have steered it home.”
Vertigo’s Yoon says, “When the project came to Vertigo, we were immediately able to see the potential for this story to be told on the big screen. The idea of examining a world created and orchestrated expressly by men, and of a woman awakening to that, felt perennially relevant to us. The component of the thriller as the narrative engine helped to illuminate the layers of the female experience within such a world. Olivia initially expressed her keen interest in starring in the film, which evolved into her coming onto direct / produce, and bringing aboard the inimitable Florence Pugh and our tremendous cast. Olivia’s and Katie’s work brought even more specificity to the conversation about life under the male gaze and, of course, blew out the world of Victory in the most intentional and imaginative of ways.”
Wilde tells, “We dove in and started stripping away the world down to the very core questions that we found the most compelling. At the heart was what if you had a life that was, in fact, idealized? Why would you take apart such a comfortable life? That’s really what we all need to be asking ourselves. It seems like very few people in history have made that decision, and yet it’s those people who are really the ones who can make the most difference.
“So, the themes we were working with were the idea of real courage,” she continues, “what it actually means to be an independent thinker, and to be able to identify flaws in a system that serves you. But also, this movie is a romance. We wanted to tell a story of a love that was deep and authentic—if potentially damaged—but was so real and pure that the audience would find themselves swept away by it, despite their better judgment. As an audience member, I think it’s fun and interesting to feel conflicted. Where you know that something is wrong, but your heart is so empathetically connected to the characters that you can understand why they’re putting themselves in this situation.”
Silberman offers, “We wanted to show how it’s not always easy to recognize that the system you’re a part of is broken. That to change some of the difficult things or things that are fundamentally wrong means ripping up your life from the studs. You can be a part of a system that you’re enjoying, but you know that it is wrong in a more macro sense—that’s difficult to recognize. It takes individuals banding together and recognizing that even the good elements are sometimes the things that need to change. We wanted this to remain an important throughline, something at the center of the story.”
To create their Eden, Wilde and Silberman raised the dramatic stakes by envisioning a luxurious fantasy of the idyllic life, leaning heavily into the sumptuousness and visual appeal of the 1950s and early ‘60s, particularly in the desert community that became synonymous with relaxed glamor and indulgence: Palm Springs, California.
Wilde enthuses, “We thought we could have so much fun with the wish fulfillment aspect of this world. I mean, world creation is perhaps the best part about being a director. When you pull in your team—the production designer, DP, costume designer, hair and makeup, and finally, your actors—you create this environment. We really set out to build a world so wonderful that no one in their right mind would think of destroying it… and then create a character who contemplates doing just that.”
For Pugh, the idea of Victory is both a place and a way of life: “Victory is perfection. Victory is when you are young and you close your eyes, and you imagine the best possible life for yourself. How do you imagine it? You imagine it by palm trees. You imagine it by the pool. You imagine it with a cocktail in your hand, and you looking amazing all the time. That is what I see Victory as. Everything is heightened, and everything is perfect.”
Silberman adds, “Victory is sunny and gorgeous every day. It’s everything we love about Palm Springs in the ‘50s and ‘60s, but it’s not the ‘50s and ‘60s you think you know—it’s also really progressive, sexy and fun. Everyone drinks and parties all the time. It’s almost like an adult summer camp, if you were able to live with no consequences in the most beautiful locale imaginable with your best friends. There are no money worries, because everything is charged to the Victory accounts. The men are part of something really important, and the women are there to support them. And at night, they have the time of their lives. Olivia wanted the audience’s first reaction to be, ‘I want to live there!’”
Adamant that Victory should be seductive and a connoisseur’s dream of mid-century indulgence, Wilde and Silberman also wanted the foundation of the world to be rooted in reality, so the pair immersed themselves in research, beginning with their own families. Per Silberman: “We talked a lot about the women in our families, what it was like for them to grow up in a certain time period, and what we think it might have been like if they hadn’t grown up with those restrictions. This is a kind of homage to those really brilliant and strong women in our own lives that grew up in a society that didn’t give them the opportunities we had.”
Outside of the familial, filmmakers looked at the development of Palm Springs, zeroing in on the decades germane to the story. They also read up on secret societies and government programs (e.g., the Manhattan Project, which spearheaded the research and development of nuclear weapons during WWII). Silberman explains, “This project was so fun, because it got to scratch so many itches in terms of research. There were so many worlds we got to investigate in different ways, scientifically, philosophically. Even photos of women hiking mountains in 1950s Palm Springs, with full hair and makeup, heels and a dress—and these were real. It was an extraordinary spectrum we got to look at.”
Not only did the research fuel the development and creation of Victory and the world of “Don’t Worry Darling,” it also proved a useful tool to jumpstart character building. Packets were prepared for each cast member that included reference materials and potential articles the character might have come across from the period. Silberman says, “Olivia’s not just an extraordinary director and actress, she’s a wonderful caster. This group of people are the easiest actors to write for in the world, not only because they originate so many brilliant ideas themselves, but they’re all so talented. You just want to keep writing more and more pages for them.”
The one thing they ask of us is to stay here…where it’s safe
Per Olivia Wilde: “At the heart of our movie is Alice Chambers, played by Florence Pugh, and she is a character who is so full of intellect, love and warmth that she is impossible not to connect with. She’s someone that you, as the audience, empathize with and root for, I think from the first moment. And we meet this character in this incredibly happy moment in her life, just at the point where she starts to question some of the mysteries around her. And then, what we discover is that she is also ferociously brave. She is so willing to put herself on the line that we become swept away by her commitment to finding out answers.
“There’s something about Florence that is just so smart,” Wilde continues, “the way she questions and considers everything. I thought, ‘That’s the quality we need for Alice.’ Once I spoke to Florence as taking on Alice, I thought, ‘Now, everything starts from this, everything starts from her instincts.’ Everything else became really clear… who we were going to surround her with came into focus based on what she was going to create. The conversations were all about how this woman needed to be everything except the kind of 1950s housewife. How it had to feel organic. You didn’t want to, for a second, question whether or not she was real or the world was real. And how the relationship between Alice and Jack had to be deeply passionate and feel really contemporary, in a sense—equal.”
Pugh says, “I’d say the difference between Alice and the other wives is that she’s not as tied up… not as ‘straight,’ I suppose. I think it’s because of the relationship that Jack gives her—she’s able to be her own person, wear her own clothes, be a little more relaxed, more sensual, more sexual. Their relationship is different, and he allows her to be essentially more modern. Everything about her is more relaxed, the way that she moves, the way she dances through her day. The fact that she wears lingerie to say goodbye to him in the morning. The wives love tending to their men. I think playing this role wouldn’t have been half as interesting if Alice and these women hadn’t been committed in their lives. They genuinely love cleaning the house and making sure everything’s perfect. That makes for an interesting character. Everything about her is trying to enjoy as much of what she has in front of her without being so uptight—it’s also that she enjoys it.”
Silberman describes Alice and Jack as “young and modern, even for this kind of community. They’re madly in love and a wonderful team and, despite the ecosystem that they’re in in the 1950s, which has a lot of dormant misogyny, they’re really partners. Equals. And friends.”
Wilde says, “Casting Jack was really tricky, because we wanted to find someone who would be a worthy scene partner to Florence. We also wanted someone who wasn’t what we might typically identify as a 1950s traditional man. We wanted their relationship to seem singular. That he wasn’t a stereotypical ‘master of the house,’ that their love seemed genuine, authentic and warm—you’d immediately recognize it to be special within Victory. Jack and Alice are different.”
Having seen “Dunkirk” and been impressed with the performance of Harry Styles, Wilde inquired after his availability for the project. “I thought, here was someone who has tremendous presence, intelligence, and honestly, fearlessness.”
After meeting with filmmakers, Styles signed on to play the role, with mutual excitement between Styles and Pugh to inhabit the couple at the center of the movie.
Styles explains, “Jack Chambers is a husband. He loves his wife, and he wants to go to work and then come home and hang out with Alice. In that way, he’s pretty run-of-the-mill. It’s the very traditional stereotype of an old-school, perfect marriage. While he works, she’s at home, cleaning and cooking. But, he loves his wife more than anything in the world. I think they’re obsessed with each other. It’s kind of an ‘us against the world’ relationship.”
For Styles, that world is one of both lulling, seductive beauty and an opportunity cost: “Victory represents the sheltered kind of life that allows you to stay in your ultimate comfort zone. You can ignore all the problems in the world, and some people are okay with that. I think for everyone, it’s a safe, easy, comfortable little bubble. They think everything's perfect, but the world isn’t like that. It has consequences. People inside those kind of bubbles, they don't want to know about the consequences. I think that’s what Victory represents—a willingness to be ignorant to the rest of the world.”
Wilde says, “Once we had our Alice and Jack, it really became their movie… to bring this relationship that was the point of the whole film. Florence and Harry worked together to create this incredibly authentic, warm, nuanced human relationship and bring it to the screen. Then, it became about who we were going to surround them with.”
Wilde herself would step into the role of Bunny. As Alice’s best friend, Bunny provides a “bigger picture” sounding board and confidante for the somewhat impetuous Alice. The character herself is a strong, empowered and sophisticated presence—with flashes of vicious wit—who is savvy enough to know how things work in Victory. In Hollywood terms, Bunny is a Rosalind Russell, the life of the party, your funniest friend who stays out the latest.
“I think that along the lines of wanting to disarm the audience with humor and to make the world seem as organic as possible, I wanted to give Alice a friend to bounce her energy off of, and that would allow for another really authentic relationship to exist onscreen,” Wilde relates. “At the core of everything, it is Jack and Alice, but the other kind of love story is Alice and Bunny. I’m endlessly fascinated by female friendship and all its intricacies, specifically within a community like Victory; the women spend most of their time together, because the men are off at work all the time.”
In Wilde’s view, the women have all collectively made an agreement to never question where their husbands go or what their jobs are, and to never think beyond the confines of the community. She expands, “Bunny is a character who really indulges in the community, and has bought into Victory completely. Her husband, Dean, is a devout follower of [Victory’s leader] Frank, and he’s sycophantic and deferential around Frank… and Bunny’s the same. It was a fun character to create and really fun to play, because I have such good actors to play with.
“It was lucky that Bunny, as a character, is written to be quite bossy,” Wilde confesses, laughing, “because we’d be in the middle of the scene and I’d say, ‘Move over, move over.’ And it would work for Bunny or me breaking character as the director. I’d pull people, move them over, tell them to say things again and I would think, ‘Yeah, that could be Bunny. She would do that!’ So yeah, it was a dream.”
“They are the couple that are going to get there first, and be the last ones there drinking and make everybody stay up later than they were intending to,” Silberman says of Bunny and Dean.
Cast as Dean, Nick Kroll shares Silberman’s opinions, calling them “the social chairpeople of Victory. I would describe Dean as the life of the party, a bit of an engine for the party. He likes to drink. He likes to have a cigarette. He likes to get after it. And he’s a bit of an instigator, a bit of a bully, but I think a good-natured one.”
Wilde acknowledges, “Going to Nick Kroll for the character of Dean was a real no-brainer for me. Nick is someone who is so smart and so funny, and he really understood the game we wanted to play. He helped to create this kind of Rat Pack energy that is so delicious and fun, funny and irreverent; he would catch the ball and throw it so effortlessly.”
Kroll took the responsibility of playing opposite Wilde seriously: ”To be cast to play the husband of the person directing the film is very flattering, because she could choose to be partnered with anyone. I’ve always admired Olivia’s work as an actor. She’s funny and has such a light touch, but also holds a real gravity in her performances. She’s got a fire in her, but also a real vulnerability in her acting. After seeing ‘Booksmart,’ I realized what an incredibly talented director she is. It’s visually stunning, while also telling a story with great pace, which is incredibly hard to do.”
One of Victory’s first couples was Margaret and Ted, played by KiKi Layne and Ari’el Stachel, and they had enjoyed the social scene with everyone in the chummy society… until Margaret began to act in ways contrary to the spirit of the community. Margaret refuses to accept the secrecy this world demands. She asks questions and demands the truth, even when it costs her. The other residents of Victory have begun to distance themselves from her, not wanting to be associated with her insubordination, which just makes her question Frank and his true motivations even more.
Silberman tells, “As it can, gossip has run like wildfire through Victory, and she’s been ostracized, basically, because she’s been asking questions no one is supposed to ask. They don’t want to be associated with the person who’s making a problem. Now, no one wants anything to do with Margaret, because they don’t want her ‘crazy’ to be contagious. But, being shut out only makes her want more answers. She eventually makes Alice realize she should have been listening the whole time. In the beginning, it’s one woman shouting into the darkness by herself—it doesn’t work until someone is listening.”
Wilde adds, “I had seen KiKi’s work and I was just really blown away by her vulnerability. She has an old soul innocence, a stillness that I think is really difficult to achieve, and it works wonderfully in the role.”
Layne relished the opportunity to bring life to Margaret and says, “The character is something so different from anything that I’ve ever done before. Margaret is the first to ask questions. She’s the first to push through. And if she weren’t there to inspire Alice, Alice wouldn’t ever have thought or been brave enough to ask these questions herself. Neither one can do it without the other.”
It’s Alice who observes Margaret’s emotional unravelling and begins to wonder if perhaps their community isn’t quite what it seems. Layne explains, “I think, for a while, Margaret had been noticing things, but it’s a case of her not wanting to acknowledge it or rock the boat. When you’re living such a life of ease, you don’t want to quite point anything like this out. But then, she can’t withhold her doubts and fears anymore.”
As with his co-stars, Stachel appreciated the themes deftly woven into the thriller. He asserts, “Margaret begins to perceive that there is something askew about it all, and once her behaviour becomes a source of gossip, that really threatens Ted’s status. His reaction is to basically become the emblematic toxic man. I think Olivia is looking at that dynamic in a way that’s really interesting.”
For the roles of Peg and Peter, Wilde chose performers whom she believes bring a key element to the psychological thriller genre. The filmmaker offers, “Humor is very important in every thriller. Think of ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and the comedy that’s infused in the community of neighbors in that film. There’s an energy in their chatter that allows the audience to be vulnerable—Phoebe Waller-Bridge said that when an audience is laughing with a character, they’re relaxed and disarmed. If you can get them to a place where they’ve surrendered and are comfortable, you can surprise and scare them. So Kate Berlant as Peg, along with Asif Ali as Peter and Nick as Dean, are perfect for that reason, and then they also bring so much emotional weight to it.”
Silberman says, “The pregnant Peg is very eager. She’s just outside the social circle, and desperate to get deeper in. And Peter is also always watching everything with a little bit of a jealous, competitive undertone. Kate and Asif are such incredible comedians; they just made these roles.”
For Berlant, “Don’t Worry Darling” exposes some of the faults of an unattainable ideal: “I think the enduring fantasy of the nuclear American family has done a lot of damage. So many of us cling to that ideal, thinking of it as something that has to be achieved and maintained at the cost of your own fulfillment or liberation. We still idealize those images and strive for them, even if they ultimately don’t align with us.”
Ali observes of Peg and Peter, “We’re sort of this weird, neurotic couple. We’re not high enough in Victory to be fully relaxed, but we’re not low enough to be scared. We’re in the middle ground, just trying to keep up appearances and make sure everything’s perfect, and we always try to be impressive. And Kate? I couldn’t ask for a better person to bounce off of comedically.”
Sydney Chandler and Douglas Smith play Victory’s newest couple, Violet and Bill, of whom Silberman says, “They’re young and brand new. We sort of described them as baby deer, because they show up and don’t know anything about Victory, but are so excited to be a part of it. They’re quickly accepted, and themselves quickly evolve to love and worship everything to do with Victory.”
Chandler makes her feature film debut in “Don’t Worry Darling,” and was one of the later cast additions, having submitted with a self-tape… she then found herself flying to Los Angeles four days later. The character of Violet longs to be a part of Victory’s society set, but struggles to find a way in. Chandler remarks, “She’s very eager and desperately trying to find her place, but I believe she’s very observant. I also think she’s a lot smarter than she comes off, but she plays into the housewife role for safety more than anything. She’s more of a fly-on-the-wall, watching and waiting to see what happens.”
Smith thinks the couple’s arrival signals many things to the audience: “You learn about what it was like for any of the members of Victory when they first entered the community through Bill and Violet. For his part, Bill is nervous. He wants to fit in. His enthusiasm to become ‘one of the guys’ makes him incredibly eager, and that sometimes leads to put-downs and disapproval from the very peers he is dying to impress. But, he does get more and more confident as time goes on.”
Wilde says, “The characters of Violet and Bill are important, as the newest members of the Victory community. For Violet, there’s kind of a bemusement, like someone on the edge of remembering a dream. Although she’s lovely, warm and present, there’s something that doesn’t quite feel right to her that keeps her on edge. Sydney had incredible warmth and vulnerability in her submission.”
Overseeing every resident of Victory and every employee of the Victory Project is the ubiquitous and omniscient Frank, with Chris Pine in the role. CEO, mayor, social leader and conscience, Frank asks everyone to share his philosophy and vision for the sake of progress. His character speaks to the emergence and star-making popularity of motivational/self-help figures from the era, such as Earl Nightingale and Zig Ziglar, as well as the growing interest in the exploration of human psychology, with echoes of B.F. Skinner and his work on behaviourism. Frank is the kind of leader for whom you’ll do anything to follow. He inspires those working for his company to be the best versions of themselves. He is out to change the world, and welcomes those brave enough to change it with him.
Per Wilde: “Frank was just such a delicious character to devise, because he is so charming. We wanted him to be someone that you just couldn’t help but listen to, someone who had such a handle on language and could really hold an audience. When I think of actors with great voices, one of the first people I think of is Chris Pine. He also has that kind of terrifying quiet power—you know they say that the most powerful people never have to raise their voice. I also loved the idea of Chris being able to embody a character that wasn’t the ideal dream man, someone with a little bit of an edge. Chris himself is so intelligent that I knew he would understand exactly what made Frank tick. He was so good at creating the intricate details of the character, and it was so fun to put it together with him.”
Pine remembers, “‘Don’t Worry Darling’ is a psychological thriller and a throwback to great films from the ‘60s and the ‘70s. It was a fantastic read. For me, what was more difficult and interesting is that I had to find a way into a character whom you may disagree with. But, you have to make sense of him in a way that at least makes sense enough to you as the actor. So when I’m portraying him, I’m not judging him. What I found is that he talks about a lot of things that are meaningful to me. The idea of chaos and structure—I have compassion for trying to navigate the relationship between those two things in life. I think those are the two components that human beings struggle with. I tried to find things that resonated with me that I could talk about passionately and then, hopefully allow that to carry through those more difficult parts that I clearly don’t see eye-to-eye with the guy on.”
Frank’s business and his actions are kept private from the women of Victory. Pine observes, “He’s a giant in the field, whatever that field is. There are allusions to the Manhattan Project, like they’re doing some big dangerous world-building, world-protecting ventures, all these men. And people look at him like a god of sorts, or a prophet, poet, philosopher.”
For every god, there is a goddess, and Frank’s is his wife Shelley, played by Gemma Chan. Shelley is Frank’s true partner: an adoring and supportive wife, his right hand, as he sets out to change the world. She is Victory’s truest and most dedicated believer and her loyalty is only matched by her refinement.
Shelley oversees the social lives of the women of Victory and governs over them as a ballet instructor. The wives strive for Shelley’s approval as much as the husbands jockey for Frank’s favor. In that, she wields a great deal of power, but as the picture of a perfect wife, she does so without the flash of her husband. It’s all gentility that masks a strong will.
“Shelly is the woman that everyone’s trying to impress and always wants to be around,” Silberman explains. “She’s not just an exquisite first lady, but also a surveyor of Victory while all the men are at work.”
Chan remarks, “Shelley and Frank, they’re quite the double act. They run the town. They are the ‘first couple.’ Everyone looks up to them. Shelley is a complex woman, because she’s very strong. She’s very confident. She’s completely supportive of Frank. And he couldn’t do what he does without her. But, she also has her own agenda as well.”
Chan and Wilde were unified in their desire to delve into the paradigm of power at the heart of Victory. Chan says, “Before we started filming, Olivia and I had a long chat about Shelley, and how we were both interested in women in a patriarchal system… women who uphold that system, whether they are aware of it or not. They gain a lot of power by supporting their husbands within a system like the one in Victory. I’m fascinated by the psyche and the kind of thinking behind that for someone like Shelley, because she is also incredibly warm and gracious. She’s intelligent. But, you wouldn’t want to cross her. Absolutely. You don’t want to cross Shelley.”
Wilde comments, “I was thrilled Gemma wanted to play Shelley, because she has this incredible presence, this elegance that is so regal. There’s no way for her to be in a scene and not carry power and significance—she has to do very little to hold that space in a room. And I really wanted to explore the themes of female participation in upholding the structures of the patriarchy. Gemma’s just brilliant, and I knew she would obviously have a firm grasp on the nuances of Shelley. But then, what she brought to it was this incredibly delicious, regal British power that was undeniably perfect for the role.”
Rounding out the cast is Timothy Simons as Dr. Collins, Victory’s resident MD. Simons plays a very 1950s version of a doctor, who actually enjoys house calls, along with the blind trust of his patients in Victory. The actor points out, “Doctors are immediately trustworthy, and I think Dr. Collins trades off of that. His seemingly friendly nature and status means he can go essentially unquestioned. It helps that the men of Victory will always back him up if someone should second-guess him. If you wear a stethoscope around your neck, everybody trusts and believes you. Well, at least they do in Victory.”
Filmmakers encouraged their impressive cast members to come up with backstories for their characters during the early rehearsal process, particularly the relationships between the husbands and wives. Silberman reflects, “While working with them early on, they brought these amazing ideas and we were able to thread them through the story. They came up with so much in terms of their actual dynamic with each other. All of that really paid off during filming. It was really cool.”
It’s a different way… a better way
To create the alluring and sensual world of “Don’t Worry Darling” required an army of vast imaginations, and joining Wilde was a sterling team of behind-the-camera talents: director of photography Matthew Libatique; production designer Katie Byron; costume designer Arianne Phillips; and makeup and hair department heads Heba Thorisdottir and Jaime Leigh McIntosh.
The film’s utopian society celebrates the hypnotic beauty of the 1950s. Wilde explains: “I’ve always been really inspired by design from the late ‘50s and early ‘60s: the Rat Pack, Frank Sinatra, a life of postwar excess and debauchery seemingly without consequence. It’s so seductive, the idea of a time when life seemed to be defined by the idea of enjoyment and fun.
“And this world of mid-century Palm Springs is so fantasy-like,” she elaborates. “We pulled from so many different incredible architects and designers. Katie Byron, our production designer, and Matthew Libatique, my DP and partner in all of this, we wanted to create something that was so visually delicious that you would find yourself really drawn into it. The idea is for the audience to be lured into this world, so everything is about the pleasure of each element of it, the textures, the way that the colors come together.”
As reference, filmmakers turned to the works of war photographer-turned-chronicler of what he called “photographing attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places,” Slim Aarons. While his overall canon was looked at for its glamor and time capsule quality, perhaps his most famous shot, entitled “Poolside Gossip,” was both inspirational and aspirational.
Wilde acknowledges, “I had a print of ‘Poolside Gossip’ on my wall when we were writing the movie, and I remember staring at it and thinking, ‘How could we possibly build a set that could feel anything like [architect] Richard Neutra’s iconic Kaufmann House?’ When we were location scouting and drove to the house, I said something like, ‘Imagine if we could find something like that?’ And Katie Byron said, ‘Why don’t we try to film there?’” No one had ever filmed there, and we wound up actually getting it—we were extremely lucky.”
The team’s luck continued when it secured a succession of gorgeous period locations to stand in for the idealized world of Silberman’s screenplay: Canyon View Estates, the Palm Springs planned community designed by Dan Palmer and William Krisel and built by the Alexander Construction Company, became the cul-de-sac where Alice and Jack reside, surrounded by their other Victory neighbors; architect Harold James Bissner, Jr.’s Volcano House, with echoes of an extraterrestrial ship perched atop a hill, was perfectly cast as the headquarters of the shadowy Victory Project; and the Cicada Restaurant and Lounge in the 1928 Art Deco Oviatt building in Los Angeles, along with the Doll House restaurant in Palm Springs, stood in as the nightclub (and powder room) where Victory experiences its most lavish celebration.
Yoon comments, “Before we were even officially greenlit, Olivia had us all heading out to scout exterior Palm Springs to discover the moving parts that would color this world. From our earliest days of exploration and prep on, she was unrelenting in her pursuit to realize her vision of the film, and the end result of that commitment wound up showing in every frame of the movie.”
Silberman notes, “This is a self-contained society. No one is supposed to venture outside of town. Since every need is met, and everything is just so perfect, why would you? When Olivia and I were developing it, we kept comparing it to a colony on Mars. There’s this little locale for yourself, and you can’t go past what you’ve been told is safe, because you don’t know what’s out there.”
Of the shiny and just shy of over-the-top world created, Byron says, “Architecturally, the space of Victory is designed to feel like a utopia, to feel almost cult-like… we wanted audiences to experience this whimsical effervescence, along with the calmness of a gorgeous, dreamlike state. But also, we embrace a level of opulence, glamor, a majesty to it all.”
Styles acknowledges the pluses and minuses of the era when he says, “Everyone who thinks back to that time thinks about how everything was so beautiful and elegant. But, I think there was darkness then, as well. So, it’s another example of living with zero consequences, if you’re prepared to shut off the rest of the world, which is the life in Victory. It’s fun to play inside that aesthetic and live there… for a bit.”
To dress the cast in the best fashions from the era, costume designer Phillips benefitted from Wilde’s extensive research and list of references, which included films and celebrities who exemplified the larger-than-life Victory look.
For Styles’ Jack, a young Warren Beatty circa “Splendor In the Grass” provided huge inspiration. For Pugh’s/Alice’s Californian look, Phillips turned to classic images of two leading ladies of the time. The costume designer comments, “Heba and Jaime Leigh really embraced Brigitte Bardot, especially for hair and makeup, and while she’s endlessly inspiring, I also was looking at Ann-Margret, whom I love. I think that’s the beautiful thing about not only Alice the character—but also Florence’s interpretation of Alice: this palpable joy and energy that she brings to the role. I wanted to help promote that sense of freedom and joie de vivre through her look.”
But Alice is experiencing other things besides joy. Pugh describes: “Something we wanted with Alice’s wardrobe was for it to be a little off-kilter and different from the rest of the women. You’ll notice that lots of the housewives are wearing pastel colors and everything’s a bit sweet and perfect, but there’s something slightly off with Alice, whether it’s a sharp magenta or black. And there’s an hourglass shape and nice line, but she becomes more disheveled. It was so fun to be part of the creative process with Arianne.”
The character of Frank is a cut above all the other men in Victory, and this applies to not only his rank, but also his attire. Pine describes, “From my sense, there’s a Palm Springs/Hollywood ‘60s thing and then there’s a Côte d’Azur, Slim Aarons, summers-in-the-Amalfi-Coast thing. I said, ‘I see Frank in the vein of these boys, but he has to have his own schtick going on…’ So, if he comes to a dinner party, he’s not wearing the tie. And if everyone else is wearing rayon, he’s wearing silk. If he’s at his house, he’s not wearing any shoes. Frank’s that loose, cool guy. He’s a little bit less rigid, less tied up and skinny-tied. That was very important and very helpful for me to get into the mindset of the character.”
Pine is quick to add, “As for the women, it’s a glory of all things mid-century fashion. It’s a sight to behold.”
Wilde observes, “The costumes are as much a part of this world as the production design. Arianne’s work is extraordinary. I think when you’re making a period film about a period that people think they’re very familiar with, you have to create something really singular. I was passionate about this feeling somewhat unrecognizable. We had a very specific world we wanted to create, and the inspiration was clear. I wanted people who were excited about those same pieces of inspiration. Being able to make an original film like this, it’s a rare opportunity these days, and we wanted it to feel like a real love letter to film. So Katie, Arianne, Matty and I came together as a group of movie lovers who got to play in this sandbox together.”
Phillips also sourced multiple one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry from the period for added bling and opulence: “Alice, Bunny and Shelley wear vintage jewelry, which really give their looks gravitas, and Harry’s and Chris’ cufflinks are also period. It was really fun to be able to add a layer with real pieces that existed from the time.”
Victory has things money can’t buy
Anyone helming a production with as many moving parts as “Don’t Worry Darling” would find the challenge sizable. For Wilde, producing, directing and starring in the film provided multiple layers and facets all requiring her undivided attention… a definite challenge she met head-on, but at first found one duty easier said than done (literally).
Wilde confesses, “The hardest thing for me was calling ‘Cut’ in character, especially when it was my close-up. I remember it was the first day, I was like, ‘…cut?’ I definitely got better at it over time. I got some good advice from filmmakers who’d done both before. One was that as a director, your team, your crew, is your family, and my crew was unbelievable. Having Matty and Scott Sakamoto operating the camera, I had such a connection to them, as kind of my brain trust. To maintain that while also developing that relationship with actors, it felt like being multilingual, in a way. It was extremely challenging, but really fun. I admit it’s hard to direct in a tight wig and close-fitting 1950s clothing. I felt bad for the hair and makeup team—they were constantly trying to follow me to touch me up, and I never stopped moving. They got really good at working on the go, but it must have been frustrating for them. Matty had a list of days I wasn’t acting on-camera and said that those were the good days, because that was when I got to hang out with them in sweatpants.”
To commit “Don’t Worry Darling” to film, Wilde chose Libatique fresh off of their recent collaboration shooting a commercial in New York. He supplies, “Olivia already had a vision of how she wanted the film to be. And she was really good at getting me to understand the feeling, the vibe, and we both share Slim Aarons and [photographer] Alex Prager as influences. It was very easy for me to understand what she was after. As a rule, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking how I want the movie to look—I spend it trying to understand how the movie should look.”
Wilde picks up, “I really wanted to work with Matty—one of my favorite collaborators and one of my favorite cinematographers—because he understands visual language so well, just the way the camera moves, having so much to do with the assumptions the audience is making and the tone created through cinematography. He’s creative and enthusiastic, and such a passionate storyteller.”
The two looked at films that inspired them within the genre—like “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Vertigo” and one that netted Libatique multiple awards and an Oscar nomination, “Black Swan”—with a specific eye to creating a subjective and visceral world that would take the viewer inside Alice’s experience.
For Libatique, it became about how best to serve the artistic collaboration that gave rise to Victory. He states, “So, beyond understanding what Olivia wanted, I needed to go and sit with Katie Byron, with Arianne Phillips. Everyone on this film had such a strong vision in their specific craft. The style of the movie was already in front of the camera. So, what was incumbent upon me was how to make this heightened reality acceptable as a reality.
“One of the things I love about creating the language of a movie,” Libatique goes on, “is the lens choice. I didn’t want this to feel in any way artificial—I wanted to feel like these dresses, these people, all existed in a real place. When I chose the Blackwing lenses, it was because I knew they weren’t too crisp, and they sort of have aberration and flare. For certain scenes in the desert, Sigma makes these lenses that have low contrast and flare insanely, which really expresses the desolation and the heat. Finally, in lighting a scene, I try to keep it in a place that feels more photojournalistic. I tried to stay away from the perfect, precious kind of key light on somebody. Because there was so much style placed in the sets, the wardrobe, the costumes, the hair, the makeup... the light had to be real. So, in a way, I ended up doing as little as possible, just trying to create this reality.”
The actors had very little trouble creating their reality, familiarizing themselves with each other right away. Timothy Simons remembers: “The ensemble got very tight very quickly, and there was a sense of respect and trust. Everybody felt very comfortable with one another, and I think that’s a credit to Olivia’s leadership. Our ease with one another also stemmed from Katie’s script, because we all had supreme confidence in the material.”
The production’s first location shoot commenced on a chilly fall morning. A Palm Springs resort swimming pool had been transformed into Victory’s country club and peopled with Pugh, Wilde and Chandler in bathing attire.
Silberman recalls a striking image from the day: “Olivia as Bunny was in this incredible swimsuit, with her real daughter, Daisy, playing her daughter in the movie, who was also by the pool. Olivia was lounging on this chair rattling off all these incredible lines, a lot of which she made up, because she’s also a great writer. Then, she scooped up Daisy and ran off set in the DIT, looking at the camera and pointing out what she loved or what she wanted changed. I remember thinking about how, when I was little, I had had such a specific image of what a director looked like… probably something like a guy in his 40s in a baseball cap, with glasses and a beard. Then, I thought, ‘This is now our image of a director.’ But, it was really fun on this project, watching her expand what she’s brilliant at and doing it all at the same time.”
Production moved to the site of Frank and Shelley’s backyard soiree, filming in the house and around the swimming pool from the Slim Aarons’ photograph so influential to Wilde and Silberman: the Kaufmann House. Pine found the setting a perfect fit for his character: “You’ve got this modernist architecture, beautiful, clean lines, and knowing that it was one of crowning achievements of its kind. In the background are the mountains and the desert that are so rugged and raw, and that juxtaposition is captured so beautifully. There’s a cleanliness to the lines of mid-century. There’s a distillation of use and practicality met with beauty. There is an effort to build within nature and with nature, and I think that speaks to a lot of what Frank is about. It’s got texture and vibrancy, color and aliveness, sexuality and sensuality. The grass is really green and the pools are really blue. For me, and I think hopefully for audiences, there’s a lot to fall in love with about this time and this place.”
The chumminess of the couples in “Don’t Worry Darling” is evident, even down to where they choose to live—next door to each other in a cul-de-sac. Location manager Chris Baugh found suburban perfection at Canyon View Estates, the planned community developed in 1962. Both experimental and forward-looking for its day, homeowners were required to abide by a set of specific rules, prohibiting additions and limiting exterior paint colors, among other things. For Baugh, this was a gift, delivering period-perfect homes of brilliant design, replete with vaulted ceilings that allow in the desert light.
Silberman recalls, “Shooting on those days was so fun, because nearly all of the cast was there. We got to see what the town of Victory would really feel like, seeing these ten people out on their lawns, chatting with each other and hanging out. It was really wonderful to see and feel what these ‘average’ days would be and get a sense of why it was a place where everyone would want to live. I wanted to live there!”
The esprit de corps established early on helped the cast play off of each other, which Wilde encouraged to the film’s advantage. Layne reflects, “What I’ve enjoyed the most is the ability to try completely new things. I think sometimes you find a really great way of doing something, a really great take on the scene, and that becomes the scene. But working with Olivia, she gives you the opportunity to find multiple great takes on the scene, which is an incredible feeling. I think especially for me, coming from a theater background, I am so used to rehearsing and playing around and trying a bunch of different ways.”
Jack and Alice’s home interiors were filmed on soundstages in Santa Clarita, California, and Pugh and her leading man also benefited from their instant rapport. Pugh relates, “It’s very exciting when there’s a fun connection with someone, and I think maybe it was also the fact that I had been away from home for so long, and I had a fellow Brit on set with me. It felt like I had an old schoolmate with me, and so the first kind of chunk of rehearsal time was so exciting, because we were just being gremlins together, essentially.”
Styles returns the compliment: “Florence is so talented, and it’s incredibly easy to work with her. She brings so much life to Alice. I’m a fan of her work, and I think any time you get to work with people who are really talented, you feel so lucky. With Alice, she brings a magnetism, and you like the character straight away, which is really important for the role. Florence doesn’t like doing things by halves and it was really fun getting to watch her work and learn from her.”
A tense dinner party conversation between Pugh and Pine offered a reunion for the two actors, who worked together on “Outlaw King.” Pugh comments: “To come back together again and play adversaries was so exciting. He’s an actor that I feel so safe with no matter what I do. No matter what move I make, he’ll always bat it right back to me, and that is such an exciting feeling, when you’re totally safe with someone and they trust you just as much as you trust them.”
Wilde considers, “I’ve known Chris since being a young actor, and so in a way, actors directing studio films now feels like the inmates have taken over the asylum. It was great to have someone along who knew me from the very beginning to say, “Look at us. We’re here now and we get to take the tools and play with them in the way we always wanted.”
Silberman notes that Frank feeds off of the confrontation: “That kind of confidence is so disarming, and made it such an interesting battle between the two of them, because he was pretty unflappable, up until one point. Then, it’s also fun to see when an unflappable person is suddenly getting a little bit hot under the collar.”
From a small dinner party to a rowdy, black-tie dinner dance, production moved to downtown Los Angeles and an atrium space in the historic Oviatt Building, originally built as a top-drawer haberdashery, which now serves as the restaurant and lounge Cicada. The dream location—listed on the National Register of Historic Places—was constructed in the heyday of Art Deco in 1928, one year before the consequences of living in the bubble of the Roaring ‘20s brought everything tumbling down.
The evening is Frank’s annual bash thrown as a thank you for the efforts of the Victory men and their wives—”A reminder of who we are,” Frank says in his impassioned speech from the stage. Wilde intentionally looked at specific historic gatherings to capture the true vibe of the “celebration” and says, “I wanted this to be the scene where you see Frank in his full-blown ego and closest to his kind of hysteria. He deftly holds his audience and slowly creates a fervor, frothing them into this collective madness. It’s a very dark, specific kind of energy, and we looked at the party rallies in Germany in the 1930s and pulled some of our imagery from these actual rallies.
“And Chris Pine brought all of that energy with no one in the room because of COVID protocols,” Wilde underscores. “When the scene was finished, it’s a room full of hundreds of screaming people, but when we filmed, it was all in his mind. I was so amazed by Chris in that moment—it was one of many times that I took off my headphones in astonishment at what was being done. He’s unbelievable. I’ve always known he was amazing, but in this he is incredibly terrifying and brilliant, and also a supportive collaborator for me, which was wonderful.”
The evening also gives Shelley a moment of her own. Chan describes, “It’s a debauched affair. And Shelley has a present, or a surprise, for Frank, which is a beautiful burlesque performer doing a striptease and ending up naked in a martini glass, and she is played by the wonderful Dita Von Teese. What more could a man want? Or a woman? It was such a fun scene to film.”
Pine says, “The people are beautiful, Dita Von Teese is beautiful, the burlesque show is beautiful. People are having a great time. They’re shouting, they’re yelling, they’re clapping. They’re drinking. They’re festive. But, underneath something so ostensibly cool and fun is this very real undercurrent of rage.” The production designer supplies, “This was obviously the time to embrace the romanticization of Hollywood glamor and culture. We wanted it to feel like the most breathlessly fun and exciting event. We wanted it to feel warm and cozy and then, we wanted to break that with the dance routine by Dita and the shift in the room with Frank’s speech.” But Von Teese isn’t the only performer at the celebration—Styles also displays his tap dancing prowess when Jack is called to perform by Frank. The actor worked with choreographer Denna Thomsen in the weeks prior to shooting the scene. Per Styles: “It was like an added little challenge on top of doing the film, and it was great to get to experience something different. It was good fun.”
For Pugh, the kaleidoscopic sequence proved the epitome of the production’s collaboration and artistic achievement: “Coming to a film like this is so exciting, because there’s all of the sex appeal, the colors, the costumes and the cast, but it’s also intimidating, because everyone on this film has to deliver… and not just kind of deliver, but 100% deliver, and it’s been truly amazing and thrilling watching everyone do that, especially our talented and committed crew. They worked so hard during a difficult time with COVID and under immense pressure given the locations and tight schedule. They were genuinely the heartbeat that kept this film going. You have to have a lot of passion to want to keep on going, especially when the world around you is so troubled and chaotic.”
That bond of trust would be key in the execution of the sequence filmed in a dry lake bed in Newberry Springs, CA, in a dramatic chase scene that sees Alice heading for the Victory Project Headquarters (architect Bissner’s 1968 jewel, the Volcano House, fashioned after the visitor’s center of the nuclear power plant at San Onofre, CA). The chase allowed for Pugh to get behind the wheel and do some of her own stunt driving. Stunt coordinator Tracy Keehn Dashnaw remembers: “It was great to take the time with Florence and drive with her, because she’s game for anything. She really wanted to drive. So, we were able to take some time and go out and play with the Corvette and get her comfortable.”
Libatique remembers, “When Olivia and I were talking about doing the stunt sequence, I asked her, ‘What do you expect out of this?’ She said, ‘I want this to be a badass action sequence!’ And I’m like, ‘There’s no second unit director. You know we’re doing it, right?’ So, we started working, looking at references—’So, she has to travel from here to here. How many events do you want? How many racks do you want?’ Back and forth over the course of three weeks. We had this amount of days, and it was the most organized we ever had to be—no improv here. All Olivia wanted was the end result. And we got it and had a blast in the process.”
About her lead, Wilde enthuses, “There is the character you write and imagine, and then the chemical reaction of that character fused with the actor and their passion. And what happened in this case was Florence bringing to life this incredibly powerful heroine, who is onscreen 99% of the time and just so compelling until the last frame of the film.”
Yoon comments, “It’s often much more complex and challenging to shoot in unique, storied locations. In our case, whether it was the need to preserve the delicate bones and history of Kaufmann House with a cast and crew of hundreds; or the logistical issues of climbing a small mountain of volcanic rock with heavy equipment in the crushing heat of the desert summer for Volcano House; or somehow capture a raucous, packed-to-the-rafters party with dramatically limited numbers of extras in the early days of the pandemic—it was often not an easy feat. That said, it’s always exhilarating to shoot in locations that not only add scope and visual interest to the screen, but that also truly elevate and punctuate the storytelling, which was very much the case with our locations. That’s a testament to Olivia’s vision, with a brilliant assist from our incredible location manager, Chris Baugh.”
To assemble and complete the vision of the film, Wilde turned to editor Affonso Gonçalves, composer John Powell and music supervisor Randall Poster.
She says, “I knew that this film would be editorially really interesting and also challenging. I knew, while we were filming it, that there were elements of the story that were going to appear in different shapes than how we had written them. And the performances were just so staggering that I thought, ‘Oh, this is going to be hard, because I’m going to want every frame of this in there!’ And ultimately, my editor, Affonso, he is such a good storyteller, a good partner and such a good listener when I ramble, ‘This is what it means, this is what it could be, this is what she’s feeling…’ He took everything and found a way to allow for so many different nuances within a scene and to either mislead or help the audiences along. Ultimately, you want to keep audiences tugging on the end of the line, without giving them too much or too little. You have to find that balance, and he was invaluable for that process.”
When it came to score, composer Powell first viewed the assemblage without any sound, only the dialogue; he then listened with the temp music. Wilde remembers, “Then he said to me, ‘This movie is more romantic than you are letting it be. Let the score be something that sweeps our hearts away.’ My choices for the temp score had been on the darker side, with some kind of demented sounds. He said that if we played with something more romantic, and used percussion to feel like some of the drum beats I had used, but as a heartbeat… By bringing in the world of the orchestra he made it much more emotionally impactful. This was my first experience being able to be with a composer conducting the orchestra, creating the score. I was overwhelmed with that moment, like a kid in a candy store.”
The director had crossed paths with music supervisor Poster, whom she calls “one of the all-time greatest,” while working on the Martin Scorsese/Mick Jagger executive-produced series “Vinyl.” Wilde supplies, “Randy has an encyclopedic knowledge of music, and I really wanted to place the audience in this era through music. It’s such a great time for music and Randy and I had a lot of fun building the soundtrack, using so many of the songs I’ve been waiting for a long time to put into a movie. And what made it such a fun experience to be in the world of this movie was to dance to this wonderful music.”
For Yoon, the combination of the artists assembled for “Don’t Worry Darling” yielded a singular result: “We are beyond grateful that Matty, Katie, Arianne, Affonso and all the rest of our top-notch crew and cast came aboard and were so committed to tackling the incredible artistic and logistical challenges before us. Along with Olivia, they pushed the bounds of what was possible from start to finish, and their singular vision and formidable talents as artists and storytellers were absolutely critical to achieving the exciting, lustrous film that is the result. It doesn’t hurt that they’re also strong, spectacular human beings who are a hoot around a fire pit after a long day, too. This movie is the sum of many moving parts, and without our amazing team, the ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ that filmgoers will see would simply not exist. And that end result will make our cast and crew feel proud, and that their herculean efforts under challenging circumstances was very much worthwhile.”
What are we doing? Changing the world!
While filmmakers and cast vary somewhat in their views of what filmgoers will take away from “Don’t Worry Darling,” all are in sync with the opinion that audiences should prepare for a singular experience.
Florence Pugh: “I think for me, it’s the fact that you’re completely swept up in this world. You totally feel like these are your people, just living in a heightened reality in the 1950s—I think you’re very quickly swept up in their lives, their relationships and their fun. And that’s where it catches you… so much so that when Alice is going through all of this, even she is shaking her head, trying to wake up and be perfect the next day. It kind of goes back to how much would you turn a blind eye to, even if your gut was telling you that something is wrong?”
Katie Silberman: “I think audiences are going to have a blast. It’s scary, it’s funny, it’s sexy, it’s thrilling, it’s surprising. I think they’re going to love everyone in it. They’re not going to know what to expect when they first get to Victory. And after, maybe they’re going to want to call their friends, tell them that they have to see it so they can talk about it—which are always my favorite kinds of movies. It’s so much fun, while telling a story thematically centered around something important, with great questions that come out of it. It’s just blown even my expectations out of the water.”
And finally, Olivia Wilde: “The opportunity to experience a story with other people together, the collective movie watching experience, is so powerful, almost spiritual. And I think for ‘Don’t Worry Darling,’ with everything from the casting to the design to cinematography, it was designed for that experience. Even though technology has isolated us in so many different ways, what we ultimately want is to connect with other human beings and I think a film like this, viewed in a collective setting, is a really singular experience, really thrilling experience. It’s also designed for the kind of chemical reaction between audiences—people who don’t know each other, strangers who suddenly look around and kind of question their reality, maybe converse with each other about what the answer to the film is… and we love the idea of the ‘parking lot arguments’.
Ultimately, it’s just a really fun ride. Our goal was to take you to a completely different reality. I always say, ‘If you’re going to make a movie, you have a reason for making it a movie, not a play, not a book.’ If it’s a film, play with the tools of filmmaking, and we think this film embraces that. We sought to create an experience unlike any audiences have had before, something fresh and new, out of respect for filmgoers who are now so fluent in the world of storytelling in all different forms… We wanted to make something that would really blow people’s minds.”
FLORENCE PUGH (Alice) is a globally acclaimed Academy Award- and BAFTA-nominated actress.
Most recently, Pugh co-starred as Yelena Belova opposite Scarlett Johansson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film “Black Widow,” directed by Cate Shortland. The film also co-starred David Harbour and Rachel Weisz.
In November, Pugh stars in Netflix’s “The Wonder,” an adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s novel of the same name. Set in the late 1850s, the story follows an English nurse called Lib (Pugh) in Ireland, who is hired to examine a young girl surviving under unusual and seemingly miraculous circumstances. Ciarán Hinds, Toby Jones and Tom Burke round out the ensemble. The film is directed by Sebastián Lelio.
Come December, Pugh can be heard as Goldilocks in Universal’s animated film “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.” Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek star.
Pugh just wrapped production on “Oppenheimer,” directed by Chrisptopher Nolan, which will be released in theaters in July 2023. The film is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird. The film stars Cillian Murphy and features Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Rami Malek, Benny Safdie, Josh Hartnett, Dane DeHaan, Matthew Modine and Jack Quaid.
Currently, Pugh is in production on “Dune: Part 2.” The film also stars Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya and Austin Butler.Next spring, Pugh stars alongside Morgan Freeman and Molly Shannon in the Zach Braff directed film “A Good Person,” which Braff also wrote. The film follows Allison (Pugh), whose life falls apart following her involvement in a fatal car accident. In the following years, it is the unlikely relationship she forms with her would-be father-in-law (Freeman) that helps her lead a life worth living.
Early next year, Pugh will begin production as star and a producer on Zoe Kazan’s screen adaptation of John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” for Netflix. Pugh is also onboard to produce and star in Universal’s upcoming murder mystery film “The Maid,” which is currently in development.
In 2021, Pugh’s Marvel character Yelena Belova appeared in the Disney+ series “Hawkeye,” based on the Marvel Comics superhero Hawkeye, starring Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld.
In December 2019, Pugh starred as Amy March in Great Gerwig’s adaptation of “Little Women.” Adapted from Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel of the same name, the coming-of-age feature centered on four sisters during the Civil War era in Massachusetts after leaving their family home. Pugh received an Oscar nomination for her performance in the film in the category of Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, a British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award nomination in the category of Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and a Critics’ Choice Movie Award nomination in the category of Best Supporting Actress.
In July 2019, Pugh starred in A24’s cult classic horror film “Midsommar,” directed by Ari Aster. Pugh was nominated in the category of Best Actress for the 2019 Gotham Independent Film Awards and was awarded the Virtuoso Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Earlier the same year, Pugh had the lead role in the MGM and WWE studio’s “Fighting with My Family,” based on the life of WWE wrestler Paige, written and directed by Stephen Merchant. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
In 2018, Pugh starred in AMC’s “Little Drummer Girl,” which launched on BBC in the UK. Based on the le Carré bestseller of the same name, the six-part drama is set in the 1970s as a young, brilliant actress prepares for her ultimate role in the theater of the real, and against the backdrop of rising tensions in the Middle East. Park Chan-wook directs and Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Shannon in co-lead roles.
Pugh was the female lead in director’s David McKenzie’s “Outlaw King,” which premiered on Netflix in November 2018. “Outlaw King” told the story of “Robert The Bruce,” the king who led his country to freedom from the oppressive rule of England during the First War of Scottish Independence. The film also starred Chris Pine and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
Pugh first made her mark with her starring role as Katherine Lester in Roadside’s “Lady Macbeth.” Directed by William Oldroyd, the film followed Katherine, who has been sold into marriage, as she discovers an unstoppable desire within herself when she enters into an affair with a worker on her estate. The film was named one of 2017’s Top 10 Independent Films by the National Board of review and won Best British Independent Film at the 2017 British Independent Film Awards. Pugh won Best Actress at the 2017 British Independent Film Awards and received the Malone Souliers Award for Breakthrough of the Year at the 2017 Evening Standard British Film Awards for her performance.
Pugh has also been seen in a starring role in ITV’s critical-hit “Marcella,” an eight-part crime-thriller from the creators of the Scandinavian hit series “The Bridge”; the action film “The Commuter,” opposite Liam Neeson; and as Cordelia opposite Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson in the BBC/Amazon television movie “King Lear.”
Pugh made her stunning debut in Carol Morley’s “The Falling” as Abigail, which earned her a Best Young Performer nomination at the London Critics’ Circle Film Awards.
This is the year of HARRY STYLES (Jack). Over the past few years, Styles has become one of the most influential forces in modern culture, in the worlds of music, fashion and film. But, he’s spent 2022 hitting new peaks, in terms of both creativity and success. In other words, after a decade of pushing boundaries and taking bold risks, Harry’s just getting warm.
Styles released one of the top selling albums of the year, “Harry’s House,” his third solo album, which came out this spring to universal critical acclaim and record-breaking popularity. “Harry’s House” remains at the top of the charts, the kind of hit that builds into a cultural phenomenon. “As It Was” is a global sensation, hitting Number One in 33 countries—including 10 weeks on top of the U.S. charts. But, he’s a star who keeps refusing to stand still; in addition to “Don’t Worry Darling,” he’s starring in another of 2022’s most hotly anticipated films, “My Policeman.”
When Styles had his first musical fame, he could have made a smooth transition into Hollywood leading man roles. But he’s never had any interest in doing things the easy way. Instead, he made his film debut as a character actor, with a supporting role in “Dunkirk,” the Oscar-nominated World War II drama from Christopher Nolan. “Dunkirk” was nominated for multiple Oscars, including Nolan for Best Director. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called it “maybe the greatest war film ever.” Styles was acclaimed for his gritty, poignant performance as Alex, one of the British soldiers under fire. It reached a massive worldwide audience, much of which was totally unfamiliar with his music career. When he cast Styles, Nolan knew practically nothing about his pop fame—all he knew is that this serious young actor was perfect for the part. As Nolan said, he “earned his place at the table.”
Styles treated “Dunkirk” as a learning experience, not a stepping stone to Hollywood. It was four years later, after making his modern pop classic “Fine Line,” that he returned to acting, joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Eros; he made his first appearance at the end of the 2021 blockbuster “Eternals.” This fall, he’s the lead in two of the year’s most talked-about films: in addition to “Don’t Worry Darling,” he also stars with Emma Corrin in the romantic drama “My Policeman,” based on the award-winning novel by Bethan Roberts, in the lead role as a British officer with a tragic secret.
Styles’ dramatic breakthroughs might come as a surprise to some people, since he’s already dazzled with his comedy chops on TV, hosting “Saturday Night Live” twice. But, he shows the same adventurous spirit in everything he does. He became the first man on the cover of Vogue, wearing a Gucci dress. He also launched his wildly successful beauty brand, Pleasing, with collections like Hot Holiday and Shroom Bloom.
He’s a unique figure in pop culture, a star who combines innovative artistry with massive popularity. After One Direction, he surprised everyone with the sophistication of his solo debut, 2017’s “Harry Styles.” His 2019 blockbuster “Fine Line” had epochal hits like “Adore You,” “Lights Up” and his first Number One, “Watermelon Sugar.” He won the Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance, on a night when he kicked off the show in a glam-rock feather boa. For so many people, this music became a source of light and hope in troubled times. When Rolling Stone did its definitive list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, “Fine Line” was the most recent album in it, already recognized as a classic.
With “Harry’s House,” he’s combined critical applause with record-breaking popularity. It’s a deeply personal song cycle, the most intimate and daring music he’s ever made, going deep into themes he’s always explored as a songwriter: identity, community, love. It’s yet another surprise twist in his unique journey, from his music to his films. As Harry Styles keeps showing the world, he’s always going somewhere new.
OLIVIA WILDE (Bunny – see ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS)
Actress and producer GEMMA CHAN (Shelley) is well-known for her roles in BAFTA-nominated Channel 4/AMC artificial intelligence drama “Humans”; Warner Bros. Pictures’ film adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s best-selling novel, “Crazy Rich Asians,” which won Best Comedy at the Critics’ Choice Awards and was also nominated for a Golden Globe and SAG Award; and Marvel Studios’ first female-fronted superhero film, “Captain Marvel.” In 2019, Gemma returned to British television in “I am Hannah,” a moving story which explored the societal pressure women face to have children. Her performance garnered rave reviews across the board.
Following this, Chan starred opposite Meryl Streep in “Let Them All Talk,” an original comedy directed by Steven Soderbergh. She can be heard as the voice of Namaari in Disney’s Academy Award-, Critics Choice- and Golden Globe-nominated animated feature, “Raya and the Last Dragon.”
Last year, Gemma returned to the Marvel Cinematic Universe leading an ensemble cast in “Eternals,” directed by Chloe Zhao. The film opened at #1 in all key markets to an estimated $161.7M global weekend, the second highest global weekend posted by any MPA film during 2021 and the highest grossing global pandemic opening weekend for an original/new IP movie.
Next up, Chan will be seen in apple’s “Extrapolations,” an upcoming anthology series about climate change helmed by Scott Z. Burns. The ensemble cast includes Meryl Streep, Sienna Miller, Kit Harington, Tahar Rahim, Matthew Rhys, Daveed Diggs and David Schwimmer. The series will examine how impending changes to the planet will affect love, faith, work and family in people’s lives over eight interconnected episodes. Gemma recently completed filming New Regency’s upcoming sci-fi film “True Love,” alongside John David Washington and Allison Janney and directed by Gareth Edwards.
It was recently announced that alongside Working Title Films and producer Nina Yang Bongiovi, Gemma will develop a feature film about legendary Hollywood actress Anna May Wong, considered to be the best-known Chinese-American actress during Hollywood’s Golden Age. Gemma will star as Anna May Wong in the film that she will also executive produce. Anna Wong, niece of Anna May Wong, will serve as a consultant on the project.
She will also star in a spinoff of “Crazy Rich Asians.” which will center around Gemma’s character, Astrid Young Teo, and her romance with Charlie Wu, played by Harry Shum Jr. in the original film.
Alongside Netflix and 21 Laps, Gemma will be executive producing “The Moon Represents My Heart,” adapted from the forthcoming debut novel from Pim Wangtechawat, into a limited series. Gemma is also attached to star in the story about a British-Chinese family with the secret ability to time travel. After the parents vanish, their son and daughter search for them across time while coming of age as adults.
Chan is also an accomplished theatre actress; she performed in the sell-out run of the critically acclaimed “Yellow Face,” by Tony Award-winning David Henry Hwang at the Park Theatre and again in the National Theatre’s revival. In 2015, she starred in Harold Pinter’s “The Homecoming” at Trafalgar Studios. Gemma is a Unicef UK Ambassador. She has also just helped to launch a GoFundMe initiative which will provide grants to grassroots organizations supporting East and South East Asia (ESEA) and broader communities in the UK.
KIKI LAYNE (Margaret) made her debut on the big screen as the female lead in Barry Jenkins’ film “If Beale Street Could Talk” for Annapurna and Plan B Entertainment. The film premiered to rave reviews at both the Toronto International Film Festival and the New York Film Festival and went on to win best feature at the Independent Spirit Awards in 2019. The film was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for best motion picture and a Critics’ Choice Award for best picture.
Layne also starred in HBO’s “Native Son,” opposite Ashton Sanders, Margaret Qualley and Nick Robinson. The film premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival as the opening-night feature. Layne can also be seen starring opposite Julianne Moore in Luca Guadagnino’s short film “The Staggering Girl,” which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2019.
Layne starred opposite Charlize Theron in the hit film “The Old Guard,” released in July 2020 on Netflix. The film is based on the comic book series of the same title and was the first major franchise film for Netflix, with Skydance and Denver & Delilah producing. The release was wildly successful, being viewed in over 72 million households internationally, thus making it one of the top 10 most-successful original launches in Netflix history.
More recently, Layne was seen in the comedy film “Coming 2 America,” alongside Eddie Murphy, James Earl Jones and Arsenio Hall. The film premiered on March 4, 2021. The film was the first Amazon title to break streaming records within the first week. Her voice was also heard in the animated comedy “Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers.”
Prior to moving to Los Angeles to start her film career, Layne graduated from The Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago with a BFA in acting. Layne’s stage credits include the U.S. premiere of “Octagon” (2016, Jackalope Theatre), which garnered her a Black Theater Alliance Award (BTAA) nomination for Best Featured Actress in a play. Other stage credits include “Letters Home” (2014, Griffin Theatre), “Good People” (2015, Redtwist Theatre) and the world premiere of “Byhalia, Mississippi” (2016, Definition Theatre and The New Colony), which earned her BTAA nominations for Best Featured Actress in a Play and Most Promising Actress.
NICK KROLL (Dean) has established himself as one of today’s most sought-after creators, writers, producers and actors in both film and television.
Kroll co-created, writes, produces and performs over 30 voices on the Emmy-nominated Netflix animated series “Big Mouth,” which is based on his childhood. The show has garnered numerous accolades including 2021, 2020 and 2019 Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Animated Program; 2021 and 2020 Critics Choice Award nominations for Best Animated Series; a 2020 Emmy Award for Outstanding Derivative Interactive Program; a 2021 Annie Award for Best Writing – TV / Media; a 2019 Annie Award for Best General Audience Animated Television/Broadcast Production; a 2022 NAACP Image Award Nomination for Outstanding Animated Series; and a 2019 Critics’ Choice Award in the category of Best Animated Series. Season 5 premiered in November 2021 and the series has been renewed for two additional seasons. “Big Mouth” has been heralded by Vanity Fair as “one of TV’s most honest depictions of growing up.” The sixth season will premiere this fall.
Kroll and the “Big Mouth” team—Andrew Goldberg, Mark Levin, Jennifer Flackett and Kelly Galuska—also released their newest project for Netflix titled “Human Resources.” Kroll serves as co-creator and executive producer on the workplace comedy, which is set in the same world as the “Big Mouth” monsters and premiered this spring. “Human Resources” was renewed for a second season. In 2020, Kroll announced the launch of his production company, Good At Business. Under his new banner, Good At Business is developing and adaptation of Calvin Kasulke’s “Several People Are Typing” as a TV series. “Several People Are Typing” is the first novel narrated entirely through Slack chats. Kasulke’s darkly funny debut upends our new COVID-era workplace—the virtual office.
Kroll recently wrapped production on “History of the World Part II,” a sequel to the 1981 film. He serves as a writer and is an executive producer alongside Mel Brooks, Wanda Sykes, Ike Barinholtz, David Stassen and Kevin Salter. Kroll was personally approached by comedic legend Brooks to be a part of the project. Hulu ordered eight episodes of the show.
Kroll recently completed his hilarious Middle Aged Boy Tour. The tour hit multiple U.S. cities with sold-out shows in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. And in November 2021, he sold out Carnegie Hall during the New York Comedy Festival. During the tour, he shot his standup special for Netflix, which will be released this fall.
Recently, Kroll reprised his role as Gunter in “Sing 2,” this past December. Kroll also reprised his role as Uncle Fester in “The Addams Family 2,” which released in October 2021.
Kroll also guest-starred as Simon the Devious on the FX hit comedy “What We Do In the Shadows,” and in Apple’s “Dickinson,” HBO Max’s “Our Flag Means Death” (alongside Taika Waititi) and Apple’s “Roar” (opposite Issa Rae).
In 2020, Kroll and John Mulaney released a new podcast “Oh, Hello: The P’dcast,” a spinoff of their critically acclaimed show “Oh, Hello on Broadway.” The first episode was released on April 3, 2020, and all proceeds were donated to various charitable organizations supporting COVID-19 relief, including United Way. In 2017, Kroll wrapped his Broadway debut in “Oh, Hello on Broadway,” which ran for 138 performances and received rave reviews. He starred as Gil Faizon opposite John Mulaney as George St. Geegland, two elderly men from the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The show was filmed for a Netflix Original Comedy Special, which is currently available for streaming.
Kroll starred in “Olympic Dreams,” alongside real-life Olympian, Alexi Pappas. “Olympic Dreams” was filmed on location at the 2018 Winter Games and was released in theaters by IFC on February 14, 2020. Previously, Kroll voiced Uncle Fester in MGM’s animated comedy, “The Addams Family,” starring opposite Charlize Theron, Oscar Isaac, Chloe Grace Moretz and Bette Midler. The animated movie became a box office hit with grossing numbers of $131,075,960 worldwide.
His additional film credits include: Jeff Nichol’s critically acclaimed “Loving”; “Operation Finale”; “How It Ends”; “Uncle Drew”; Ross Katz’ “Adult Beginners,” on which Kroll also served as a producer; Sophie Goodhart’s “My Blind Brother”; Terrence Malick’s “Knight of Cups”; Seth Rogen’s “Sausage Party”; Illumination’s “Sing” and “The Secret Life of Pets”; John Hamburg’s “I Love You Man”; Shawn Levy’s “Date Night”; Nicholas Stollers’ “Get Him to the Greek”; and Jay Roach’s “Dinner With Schmucks.”
Kroll was the creative executive producer on his sketch show, the “Kroll Show,” which ran for three seasons on Comedy Central. Kroll also starred as Ruxin in the hit FX show “The League” for a total of seven seasons.
SYDNEY CHANDLER (Violet) is a rising actress who can be seen starring in the FX limited series “Pistol" from director and executive producer Danny Boyle. The six-episode series focuses on the legendary Sex Pistols, and Chandler portrays singer-songwriter Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. Other cast members in “Pistol" include Toby Wallace, Maisie Williams, Louis Partridge, Anson Boon, Emma Appleton, Dylan Llewellyn, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Talulah Riley and Iris Law. “Pistol” premiered on May 31, 2022, exclusively on Hulu.
“Don’t Worry Darling” serves as Chandler’s feature film debut.
KATE BERLANT (Peg) is a comedian and actress with notable appearances in Quentin Tarantino’s ”Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” and Boots Riley’s “Sorry to Bother You.” She has appeared in television series, including “Search Party,” “Transparent” and “I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson,” and will next be seen on “A League of Their Own” on Amazon Prime. Berlant was named a Just for Laughs “New Face of Comedy” and a Variety “Ten to Watch” and can be seen opposite John Early in their sketch comedy special, “Would it Kill You to Laugh?,” on Peacock.
Kate has performed at festivals across the globe, including a sold-out run at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Montreal Just For Laughs Festival, New York Comedy Festival, Festival Supreme, Treasure Island, Sasquatch and Moontower. Her performances have been commissioned by The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and she has been described by The New York Times as a “magnetic improvisational comic” at the forefront of experimental comedy.
ASIF ALI (Peter) just had breakout supporting roles on the Emmy-nominated “WandaVision” and “The Mandalorian” for Disney/Marvel. More recently, he was featured as the villain in Amblin’s “Easter Sunday,” with Jay Chandrasekhar and Jo Koy, as well as wrapped on “Bromates,” with Lil Rel Howery. When he isn't acting, you can see him prepping for his standup comedy special about to drop on HBO Max.
Ali’s additional career highlights include Netflix’s “BoJack Horseman,” ABC’s “The Good Doctor,” Netflix’s “Arrested Development,” Fox’s “New Girl,” HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” ABC’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Modern Family.”
In addition to his role in “Don’t Worry Darling,” DOUGLAS SMITH (Bill) will next be seen starring in director Lindsay Mackay’s independent feature film “The Swearing Jar,” premiering at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival on September 11.
Recently, he can be seen in season two of the hit HBO drama series, “Big Little Lies,” playing opposite Shailene Woodley. Before that, Smith starred in Cary Fukunaga’s TNT series, “The Alienist,” and reprised his role as Marcus Isaacson in the follow-up series “The Angel of Darkness,” which premiered in 2020.
His extensive resume includes leads in the Blumhouse/Universal feature “Ouija”; FOX 2000’s “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters,” opposite Logan Lerman; and Brandon Cronenberg’s “Antiviral,” which premiered at Cannes. Douglas also recurred on the first season of Martin Scorsese’s HBO series “Vinyl.” He is perhaps best-known, however, for his role as Ben Henrickson on HBO’s critically acclaimed show “Big Love,” starring Bill Paxton and Chloë Sevigny.
TIMOTHY SIMONS (Dr. Collins) starred in the Emmy award-winning political satire “Veep,” and his recent credits include work in Hulu’s limited series “Candy” and HBO Max’s limited series “Station Eleven.” His film credits include “Inherent Vice,” “Draft Day,” “Gold,” “Yes, God Yes” and “The Interview.” A native of Maine, he now lives in Los Angeles with his family.
ARI’EL STACHEL (Ted) will next be seen starring in the world premiere of his one-person show, “Out of Character,” at The Berkeley Repertory Theatre, which Stachel wrote. Tony Taccone is set to direct.
Stachel can currently be seen in the A24 production of “Zola,” directed by Janicza Bravo and starring opposite Taylour Paige and Coleman Domingo. He can also be seen recurring on NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”
He received the 2018 Tony Award for his featured role in “The Band’s Visit” on Broadway. His previous performance of this role at the Atlantic Theatre Company also garnered him 2017 Lucille Lortel and Drama Desk Award nominations for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical.
CHRIS PINE (Frank) is one of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents. With multiple upcoming major motion picture releases, his resume is as extensive as it is versatile.
Pine will soon make his directorial debut on the feature film “Poolman,” which just wrapped production in Los Angeles. The film, which Chris co-wrote, executive produces and stars in, also stars award-winning actors Annette Bening and Danny DeVito. The film follows Darren Barrenman (Pine), as he uncovers the greatest water heist in LA history since Chinatown and follows every lead he can, all while dealing with corrupt city officials, burned out Hollywood types and mysterious benefactors.
In addition to “Don’t Worry Darling,” Pine will next be seen starring in Paramount’s “Dungeons and Dragons,” the highly anticipated film adaption of the popular fantasy role-playing game. This past year, he starred in Janus Metz’s Amazon original film “All the Old Knives,” opposite Thandiwe Newton; the action-thriller “The Contractor,” opposite Ben Foster; and he also appeared in the light-hearted comedy, “Doula,” which was directed by Cheryl Nichols and written by Arron Shiver (Chris also serves as an executive producer via his Barry Linen productions banner).
In 2018, Pine starred in the Netflix-acquired period drama, “Outlaw King,” in which he portrayed Robert the Bruce. Directed by David Mackenzie, the film took place over the historic year when Robert fought to regain control after being crowned King of Scots, only to be defeated in a surprise attack and made an outlaw by the English King and his occupying forces. Pine also provided the voice for the legendary Peter Parker in the Golden Globe winning “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Pine is also no stranger to the small screen. In 2019, he starred in TNT’s mini-series, “I Am the Night,” which reunited him with director Patty Jenkins for the first two episodes. The series follows the story of Fauna Hodel, as she tries to investigate the secrets of her past, leading her toward the infamous Dr. George Hodel, the suspect in the infamous Black Dahlia murder.
Pine also portrayed the pivotal character, Mr. Murry, in Ava DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” the film adaption of the popular novel by the same name. The fantasy adventure follows three children in search of their scientist father following his disappearance and also stars Reese Witherspoon, Zach Galifianakis, Mindy Kaling and Oprah Winfrey. Prior to that, he starred opposite Gal Gadot in the critically acclaimed box office sensation, “Wonder Woman.” Directed by Patty Jenkins, the film received rave reviews from critics and was one of the highest grossing films of the year. The film was also selected as one of the Top 10 Movies of the Year by the American Film Institute. In 2016, he starred in the award-winning drama, “Hell or High Water,” alongside Jeff Bridges and Ben Foster, which earned Academy Award, Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice nominations for Best Picture.
In the summer of 2017, Chris reprised his role as Eric in “Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later,” the sequel to David Wain’s “Wet Hot American Summer” and the 2005 prequel, “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.” Pine also guest-starred on Steve and Nancy Carell’s hit TBS comedy series, “Angie Tribeca.” Additionally, he lent his voice to several characters in animated series: Fox Network’s “American Dad”; Cartoon Network’s “Robot Chicken”; and “SuperMansion,” a comedy that follows an aging superhero and his team as they tackle the ever-changing world while battling various supervillains. Pine received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance for his work on the show.
Additional feature credits include: “Star Trek Beyond,” the third installment of the highly successful franchise, for which he reprised his role as Captain James T. Kirk (Pine also starred in “Star Trek” and “Star Trek Into Darkness”); Disney's “The Finest Hours”; “Z for Zachariah”; “Horrible Bosses 2”; Rob Marshall’s Academy Award- and Golden Globe-nominated musical-comedy “Into the Woods;” the title role in “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” for director Kenneth Branagh; DreamWorks’ animated feature “Rise of the Guardians”; “People Like Us”; the 20th Century Fox action-comedy “This Means War”; FOX’s “Unstoppable,” opposite Denzel Washington for director Tony Scott; Paramount Vantage’s “Carriers”; the educational animated feature “Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey”; “Bottle Shock” for writer/director Randall Miller; the independent feature “Small Town Saturday Night” for writer/director Ryan Craig; Joe Carnahan’s gritty ensemble drama “Smokin’ Aces” for Working Title Films and Universal Pictures; “Blind Dating,” costarring Eddie Kaye Thomas and Jane Seymour; the Fox/New Regency romantic comedy “Just My Luck,” opposite Lindsay Lohan; and “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement,” opposite Anne Hathaway.
Teaming with producing partner Ian Gotler, the duo founded Barry Linen Motion Pictures, which is a Los Angeles-based production company with the goal of producing resonant, timely material that is designed to entertain and enlighten audiences. Initially drawing from the wealth of material created by their friends, a close-knit group of actors, writers and directors, Pine and Gotler continuously seek to champion both emerging storytellers and established filmmakers alike. The result is a diverse slate of projects, including films such as “My Heroes Were Cowboys,” “All the Old Knives,” “Doula” and the upcoming “Poolman.”
On the stage, Pine starred in Martin McDonagh’s “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. In Bob Verini’s review for Variety, he called Pine’s performance “spookily, spectacularly good” and went on to remark that “’Inishmore’ audiences are present at the launch of what promises to be a truly remarkable stage career.” In March 2011, he was awarded Best Lead Performance by the LA Drama Critics Circle for his performance.
Pine also received rave reviews and a 2009 Ovation Award nomination for his performance in the drama “Farragut North,” starring opposite Chris Noth at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. His additional stage credits include the Neil LaBute play, “Fat Pig,” also at the Geffen Playhouse, and “The Atheist,” a one-man show performed off off-Broadway, in addition to multiple productions at The Williamstown Theatre Festival, among many others. In 2013, he received the prestigious Male Star of the Year award at the annual CinemaCon Awards.
Pine graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. His parents are actors Gwynne Gilford and Robert Pine, and his late grandmother, Anne Gwynne, was a film actress of the ‘30s and ‘40s. Pine currently resides in Los Angeles.
Director, actress, producer, and activist OLIVIA WILDE (Director / Producer / Bunny) is a modern-day renaissance woman. From directing feature films to acting in Broadway to starring in popular films and television shows, Wilde continues to elevate her versatile presence, all while simultaneously giving back to the community.
Wilde’s current endeavour, “Don’t Worry Darling,” has been buzzed about since the minute it was announced. The spec was sold in an extremely competitive auction, with more than 18 studios bidding on the project. In the same month, Wilde also sold a holiday comedy pitch to Universal, which was also part of a hot bidding war.
Wilde has had a bustling few years on the motion picture side. Her 2019 award-winning directorial debut “Booksmart,” starring Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein, became a generational anthem and continues to be praised as one of the most beloved films of its decade. Wilde received acclaim for her directorial style and won the Independent Spirit Award in 2020 for Best First Feature. She and the film were honored at multiple film festivals, including garnering the audience award at the San Francisco Film Festival; appeared atop multiple “Best Films Of 2019” lists; earned Wilde personal nominations for the Gotham Awards and Critics’ Choice Award; and had multiple Critics’ Circles name “Booksmart” one the best movies of the year in 2019. The picture, which was produced by Annapurna and Gloria Sanchez, the female-focused production banner wing of Gary Sanchez Productions, first premiered at SXSW to rave reviews and garnered a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Additionally, Wilde directed the short film “Wake Up” for HP. The project premiered at Sundance 2020 and was a finalist in the short film category for Tribeca Film Festival’s Tribeca X Award. Wilde also produced and starred in the film “A Vigilante” as a secretive figure that rids victims of their domestic abusers; she received critical acclaim for her role in the difficult yet timely subject matter. Previously, Wilde produced and starred in the drama “Meadowland,” garnering significant praise for her emotionally charged performance. Additional past film credits include the Oscar-winning drama “Her,” Ron Howard’s “Rush” and the critically acclaimed indie comedy “Drinking Buddies,” which she also executive produced.
Broadening her horizons even further, in 2017, Wilde made her Broadway debut in “1984,” the harrowing adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian tale. Starring alongside Tom Sturridge and Reed Birney, Wilde received immense acclaim for anchoring the play as Julia, the woman with whom the protagonist begins an affair. The show began previews in May and ran a vigorous, yet extremely successful run through October. On the television side, Wilde starred in HBO’s rock ‘n’ roll drama “Vinyl” from creators Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger and Terence Winter. She also previously starred on FOX’s hit medical drama “House.”
Along with her work in front of the camera, Wilde continues to expand her roles behind-the-scenes. She has served as executive producer on several documentary films, her most recent being the short, “Fear Us Women,” which won Best Documentary Short at the 2017 Napa Valley Film Festival. Additionally, she executive produced “Body Team 12,” which premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, won the News & Documentary Emmy award for Best Documentary Short and was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary Short category. She also directed the video for “Dark Necessities,” a five-minute music short for the well-known funk rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Additionally, she directed the music video “No Love Like Yours,” the first single off of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ sophomore album.
Wilde co-founded the philanthropic company Conscious Commerce, with the mission to create a guide for conscious living by promoting the causes, brands, people and lifestyles that are forging a new paragon of living. Wilde was recently honored by Save the Children with their Advocate Award in recognition of her galvanizing support for frontline aids helping save the lives of thousands of mothers and children through the 1 Million Community Health Workers Campaign. Additionally, the organization named Wilde as an artist ambassador focusing on maternal, newborn and child survival. She is also a board member of Artists for Peace and Justice and the ACLU of Southern California.
KATIE SILBERMAN (Producer / Screenplay & Story by) is an American screenwriter and producer most known for writing and producing “Booksmart,” the 2019 hit coming-of-age film directed by Olivia Wilde and starring Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever. The film received WGA and BAFTA award nominations for Best Original Screenplay, appeared on many “Best Films of the Year” lists, and garnered several year-end awards from film critics groups. Silberman also wrote Netflix’s 2018 romantic comedy ”Set It Up,” starring Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs, and New Line’s “Isn’t It Romantic,” starring Rebel Wilson, Adam Devine and Liam Hemsworth, which premiered in 2019.
“Don’t Worry Darling” is the second time Silberman and Wilde have worked together, and they will reunite again on an upcoming untitled comedy for Universal.
A graduate of Dartmouth College and Columbia University’s MFA film program, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.
MIRI YOON (Producer) currently serves as president of production at Vertigo Entertainment with a full slate of varied projects in the works. In addition to producing “Don’t Worry Darling,” Yoon is in production on a wide variety of television and feature film projects, including: the animated musical adventure “The Witch Boy,” for Netflix; the second season of Little Marvin’s award-winning anthology series, “Them,” for Sony Television / Amazon Studios; “The Dating Game,” a crime thriller about author Cheryl Bradshaw’s brush with serial killer Rodney Alcala; and Niki Caro’s action-thriller, “The Mother,” starring Jennifer Lopez for Netflix.
A few of Yoon’s other credits include Lars Klevberg’s horror mystery “Polaroid”; Netflix’s feature adaptation of “Death Note” from director Adam Wingard and starring Nat Wolff, LaKeith Stanfield and Margaret Qualley; the Paramount+ adaptation of Stephen King’s seminal novel, “The Stand”; and at the outset of her career, “I Love You Phillip Morris,” starring Jim Carrey and Ewan MacGregor.
ROY LEE (Producer) is a film and television producer and founder of Vertigo Entertainment. Lee has an undergraduate degree from George Washington University and attended law school at American University. His first producer credit was for “The Ring” (2002), and from there he went on to produce many of the iconic American horror films of the past two decades, including “The Grudge,” “The Strangers” and “IT.” Lee also produced the beloved animated films “The Lego Movie” and “How to Train Your Dragon.”
Currently, Roy is producing a diverse slate of popular video game adaptations, acclaimed-director-driven thrillers, television series at many of the major streaming services and more horror films.
CAREY VAN DYKE’s (Story by / Executive Producer) and SHANE VAN DYKE’s (Story by / Executive Producer) spec script for “Don’t Worry Darling” sold to New Line in an 18-way bidding war.
Recently, the Van Dykes finished weekly work on “Cobweb” for Vertigo and Lionsgate and are rewriting “Whitefish” for Sony and David Sandberg, starring Jamie Foxx, based on Jamie’s original idea. Shane and Carey are currently writing the horror film “The French Quarter” for Lionsgate and have sold pilots to Paramount TV, Bad Robot and Endeavor Content.
They recently wrote “The Silence” for Netflix, which was directed by John Leonetti and starred Stanley Tucci and Kiernan Shipka. Their feature spec, “Here Comes the Dark,” has Lucky Chap and Automatik Entertainment attached to produce.
On the TV side, they wrote “The Syndrome,” a sci-fi horror TV series for Warner Horizon, with Vertigo Entertainment producing. The Van Dykes wrote and executive produced “They Come Knocking,” the June installment of Hulu’s “Into the Dark” anthology, with Blumhouse producing. Shane and Carey created and wrote “The Rift,” a supernatural TV series for Blumhouse TV and Shudder. They sold “Haunted” to Lionsgate TV, with James Wan attached to direct, as well as their spec “AWOL” to Fox 21, with Len Wiseman attached to direct.
Academy Award-nominated cinematographer MATTHEW LIBATIQUE’s (Director of Photography) credits span a wide array of genres, showcasing his extensive creativity and ability to adapt to any style of film.
Currently, in production on Bradley Cooper’s “Maestro,” Libatique recently completed work on “The Whale” for A24 Studios, where he reteamed with his frequent collaborator Darren Aronofsky. “The Whale” tells the story of a reclusive English teacher who attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter. Starring Brendan Fraser and based on the acclaimed play by Samuel D. Hunter, the film is set to release in 2022.
Previously, Libatique collaborated with Ryan Murphy on “The Prom,” starring Jo Ellen Pellman, Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Keegan-Michael Key, Andrew Rannells, Ariana DeBose and Kerry Washington.
Libatique also shot “Birds of Prey,” in which Margot Robbie reprises her role as Harley Quinn. His short for Olivia Wilde, “Wake Up,” premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
He received Academy Award and American Society of Cinematographers nominations for his lensing of Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, “A Star is Born,” starring Cooper and Lady Gaga. He also shot “Native Son” for director Rashid Johnson, which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
Libatique photographed Aronofsky’s: directorial debut “Pi”; “Requiem for a Dream”; “The Fountain”; the critically acclaimed “Black Swan,” for which he received his first Oscar nomination; “Noah”; and “Mother!,” starring Jennifer Lawrence.
Libatique also shot the award-nominated “Straight Outta Compton,” as well as “Iron Man” and “Iron Man 2,” kicking off a defining style for the Marvel franchise.
“Don’t Worry Darling” is the second collaboration between Olivia Wilde and KATIE BYRON (Production Designer) after “Booksmart” in 2019. Byron’s work includes Mike Mills’ ”C’mon C’mon,” Janicza Bravo’s ”Zola,” Tara Miele’s ”Wander Darkly,” cult director Richard Stanley’s ”Color Out of Space,” meta slasher film ”The Final Girls” and several films by Drake Doremus—Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner ”Like Crazy,” ”Zoe,” ”Breathe In,” ”Equals” and ”Newness.”
Her television work includes BBC America’s ”Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency,” IFC’s “Documentary Now!,” the FX series “A Teacher” and the Australian/American genre-bending series “Wolf Like Me.”
With an international base, her work has allowed her to collaborate with creatives far and wide. While these experiences have been transformative, language and cultural barriers can also make them emotionally isolating. To connect with others, Byron has sought out what she believes is a universal human language: the healing power of compassion and shared consciousness through storytelling and creative collaboration.
She is currently working with A24 and Fruit Tree prepping a Benny Safdie and Nathan Fielder dark comedy series for Showtime called ”The Curse,” and awaiting release of the A24 and Fruit Tree ”Untitled Julio Torres Project,” starring Tilda Swinton.
AFFONSO GONÇALVES (Edited by) is an Emmy-nominated editor and recipient of the American Cinema Editors Award in 2014 for his work on “True Detective.”
Gonçalves has also been nominated for an American Cinema Editor Award in 2011 for his work on the mini-series “Mildred Pierce” and in 2022 for “The Velvet Underground.” Gonçalves has frequently worked with director Todd Haynes; notable collaborations include “Carol,” “Wonderstruck” and “The Velvet Underground.” Other notable films he has cut include Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter,” Jim Jarmusch’s “Paterson” and Jonas Carpignano’s films “A Chiara” (2021) and “A Chiambra” (2017).
A native of London, JOHN POWELL (Music Composed and Conducted by) was a mediocre violinist as a child, wrote music for commercials out of school and assisted composer Patrick Doyle in the early 1990s. He moved to the U.S. in 1997, where he worked on numerous projects for Hans Zimmer and his film music company Remote Control. He co-wrote the score for ”Antz” with Harry Gregson-Williams, and quickly became one of the most desirable, versatile and exciting composers in town.
Powell was catapulted into the realm of A-list composers by displaying an entirely original voice with his oft-referenced scores to the first installment of Bourne trilogy, ”The Bourne Identity.” He has also become the go-to writer for family animated films, scoring such hits as ”Shrek” and ”Chicken Run” (both co-written with Harry Gregson-Williams), ”Ice Age: The Meltdown,” ”Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” ”Ice Age: Continental Drift,” “Bolt,” both “Rio” films, both “Happy Feet” films and the first two installments of ”Kung Fu Panda” (co-written with Hans Zimmer). His pulsating action music has provided the fuel for ”Hancock,” “Green Zone,” ”Stop Loss,” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and ”The Italian Job.” His music has also sweetened the romance of ”Two Weeks Notice” and ”P.S.: I Love You.” In 2006 his music empowered ”X-Men: The Last Stand,” lent tenderness to ”I Am Sam” and gripping, real-time drama to “United 93.”
His infectious score for ”How to Train Your Dragon” earned him his first Academy Award nomination. Throughout his career, Powell also collected three Grammy nominations for his scores, ranging from sci-fi to family animation. Powell has also lent his voice to the score of Warner Bros.’ ”Pan,” ”Ferdinand” (directed by Carlos Saldanha), “How to Train Your Dragon 2” and “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” Powell scored ”Solo: A Star Wars Story,” directed by Ron Howard and the family adventure feature ”The Call of the Wild.”
In addition to his numerous film scores of all genres, John Powell has also written concert works for choir and orchestra. A selection of these has been released with the album ”Hubris: Choral Works by John Powell,” including his deeply moving oratorio, ”A Prussian Requiem.”
RANDALL POSTER (Music Supervisor) is among the most highly regarded music supervisors working in film and TV. Poster is thrilled with the work he and Olivia Wilde did on “Don’t Worry Darling,” creating a vibrant and unique music element for the vibrant and unique film. Poster and Wilde met during the making of HBO’s series “Vinyl” and share a love of music.
Poster continues to work many of the world’s premier filmmakers, including Wes Anderson, Martin Scorsese, Richard Linklater, Todd Phillips, Todd Haynes and Sam Mendes . His work consistently moves across pop-culture defining projects, from “Zoolander” to “Tiger King,” from “School of Rock” to “The Queen’s Gambit,” from “The Grand Budapest Hotel” to “Kids.”
Poster is a two-time Grammy award winner.
In 2020, Poster produced the acclaimed film “The Devil All the Time,” directed by Antonio Campos and starring Tom Holland, Riley Keough, Robert Pattinson, Jason Clarke and Haley Bennett.
Poster is currently at work on new films by Anderson, Scorsese, Linklater and Sofia Coppola.
ARIANNE PHILLIPS (Costume Designer) is a three-time Academy Award-nominated designer—for Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood,” James Mangold’s Johnny Cash biopic, “Walk the Line,” and Madonna’s directorial debut, “W.E.” Phillips also designed Tom Ford’s “Nocturnal Animals” and “A Single Man,” as well as almost all of Madonna’s music videos. Arianne is currently working on the follow-up to Todd Phillip’s smash hit, “Joker: Folie à Deux.”