Harry Styles and Olivia Wilde Pictured Holding Hands, Promptly Break the Internet
It’s juvenile and irresponsible to invest in celebrity romance rumors and Hollywood couplings. But who cares? These photos just made us all really, embarrassingly happy.
How many different ways can Harry Styles break the internet in a short amount of time?
Cleansing a palate tainted by Bean Dads and—“how do you say it in English?”—cucumbers with some “Watermelon Sugar,” 2021 is starting in earnest with celebrity gossip we can actually feel good about. If the social media reaction is any indication, perhaps the better description is ecstatic. Hysterical, even.
On Monday, as workers twiddled their thumbs in sweet respite as the first hours of the work week were blessed with Slack being down, The Daily Mail reported a “new couple alert.” Styles and recently single actress-director Olivia Wilde are possibly dating after “growing close” on the set of the film Don’t Worry Darling, starring Styles and directed by Wilde.
Gossip-outlet reporting should, of course, be taken with a Costco-sized carton of salt, but TMZ also later ran an item with the more definitive language “Harry Styles and Olivia Wilde are a couple,” citing photos that were posted on Twitter from the Styles fan account @hsdcandids of the two holding hands at the recent wedding of Styles’ manager, Jeffrey Azoff, together. Even People jumped on the news, with a source saying “they have been dating a few weeks.”
Styles reportedly officiated the wedding and Wilde was apparently his plus one. On the one hand, it’s a huge leap to assume that just because two people attended a wedding and were photographed holding hands, they are Hollywood’s next hottest couple. On the other hand, oh my god they were holding hands, it must be looooooove!
It’s ridiculous to follow hints of beautiful, rich, and glamorous love in the air with the meticulous gumption of Harriet the Spy. (Should you be curious, The Daily Mail also has photos of the pair arriving together at Styles’ home Monday, with Wilde’s luggage in tow.)
But it’s been so hard to shake the unease of “new year, same soul-crushing, panic-inducing, life-risking, incessant fear, depression, and malaise from 2020” as we’ve transitioned from one calendar year’s dumpster fire to what’s already looking to be the kindling for another that we can excuse the histrionics over Wilde and Styles. (Celeb nickname: WildeStyle? Too Kentucky Derby horse race hopeful?)
It’s just nice for there to be something nice. Reason to think about two people who seem generally nice!
Sample reaction: “This photo of Olivia Wilde and Harry Styles wearing masks and holding hands is the celebrity Vitamin C I need to get me through the rest of this pandemic,” and, “WHEN I TELL YOU I SCREAMED.”
Wilde announced in November that she and her partner of over seven years, Jason Sudeikis, with whom she has two children, had broken up. It’s none of our business! Yet we were sad! They seemed like a fun match, and it was a bummer to see it happen in what’s become the typical Hollywood story: A couple enjoys some of the biggest success of their respective careers—with Wilde directing the glorious teen comedy Booksmart; for Sudeikis, the love for Ted Lasso—and separate in the aftermath.
Styles was cast in Don’t Worry Darling to replace Shia LaBeouf, who was fired for violating Wilde’s “zero asshole policy,” according to Variety. Because it’s fun to seize on innocuous little details like this and project onto them grand meaning that hints at the romance to come, The Daily Mail resurfaced Wilde’s old quote that she “did a little dance” after Styles signed on.
“To me, he’s very modern and I hope that this brand of confidence as a male that Harry has—truly devoid of any traces of toxic masculinity—is indicative of his generation and therefore the future of the world,” she said. “I think he is in many ways championing that, spearheading that. It’s pretty powerful and kind of extraordinary to see someone in his position redefining what it can mean to be a man with confidence.”
Riding in to rescue the film from an oaf with bad behavior, you could say Styles was Wilde’s knight in shining armor, saving the day. I would ordinarily puke at the thought of writing a sentence like that, but my gut has already rotted from so much poison in the world and acidic controversies. The mellow sweetness of this possible relationship is like a celebrity-gossip probiotic.
Then again, that’s been the hallmark of Styles’ reign over these last few weeks and months.
He rang in the new year with the release of his new music video “Treat People With Kindness,” released on January 1 as the rare bouncy anthem of pop-star positivity that doesn’t seem calculated, cynical, or tone-deaf.
As if the song’s sonic-blast of cheer wasn’t enough to elicit a reflective smile, the video features the internet’s favorite person, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, joining Styles for a choreographed dance break. From the disco-era variety show costuming to the solar flares of joy radiating from every cartwheel, grapevine, and shimmy, the whole thing is a perfectly timed reminder that it’s still possible to be good and feel good.
It’s rare for a celebrity on the scale of Styles to continually make headlines for the things he does that push the envelope, and for the reaction to be almost uniform celebration rather than scandal. Even when controversy is courted, like when he appeared on the cover of Vogue at the end of the year wearing a blue Gucci dress, his confidence in his provocation is a balm to all the backlash.
In fact, when conservatives opined about the supposed threat to traditional masculinity his clothing posed, his indifference to others’ retrograde opinions about gender and fashion was more powerful than any moralizing tete-a-tete.
Listen, I don’t have any exclusive information about whether Harry Styles and Olivia Wilde are dating. I’m not even sure that, hours after this silly article posts, I’ll even care anymore whether or not they are.
All I know is that things are gross in the world right now and the news cycle, even the celebrity one, has been increasingly unpleasant. But oh-so-briefly, I saw leaked photos (that probably should never have been taken at a private event, but there they were anyway) of two extremely likable people holding hands at a wedding, and I thought, well that’s nice. That feeling, to me, was newsworthy.