After Don’t Worry Darling director Olivia Wilde opened up about firing Shia LaBeouf from her film, the controversial actor has fired back with a statement of his own. While Wilde claims to have removed LaBeouf from the film for his “combative energy” on set, Labeouf has brought forth texts, emails, and videos to suggest the contrary—that he actually quit the film.
In a recent Variety cover story, the director speaks at great length about the LaBeouf controversy. Though initial reports suggested he had left the project over a “scheduling conflict,” Wilde now claims she made the decision to fire LaBeouf and replace him with Harry Styles, in an effort to make star Florence Pugh “feel safe” while filming.
“I say this as someone who is such an admirer of his work,” Wilde said. “His process was not conducive to the ethos that I demand in my productions. He has a process that, in some ways, seems to require a combative energy, and I don’t personally believe that is conducive to the best performances. I believe that creating a safe, trusting environment is the best way to get people to do their best work. Ultimately, my responsibility is to the production and to the cast to protect them. That was my job.”
LaBeouf was fired in September 2020, and in January 2021, artist and LaBeouf’s ex-girlfriend FKA Twigs sued the actor for sexual battery, assault, and infliction of emotional distress. Needless to say: The actor is not exactly the most trustworthy source to consider when reading about the heaps of Don’t Worry Darling drama.
Still, with a flurry of evidence provided to Variety, LaBeouf now says he actually quit the production himself. On top of that, the actor has provided alleged communication with Wilde that’s arguably condescending to her lead actress, Pugh.
On Aug. 16, 2020, according to the messages LaBeouf shared, Wilde and LaBeouf met privately to discuss his exit from Don’t Worry Darling. After they had departed, Wilde texted the actor, “Thanks for letting me in on your thought process. I know that isn’t fun. Doesn’t feel good to say no to someone, and I respect your honesty. I’m honored you were willing to go there with me, for me to tell a story with you. I’m gutted because it could have been something special. I want to make clear how much it means to me that you trust me. That’s a gift I’ll take with me.”
LaBeouf quit the next day, per an email he sent Wilde on Aug. 17. Two days later, Wilde allegedly texted LaBeouf a video from her car that “alludes to the tension” between Pugh and LaBeouf; still, though, the director begs the actor to stay.
“I feel like I’m not ready to give up on this yet, and I too am heartbroken and I want to figure this out,” she says. “You know, I think this might be a bit of a wake-up call for Miss Flo, and I want to know if you’re open to giving this a shot with me, with us. If she really commits, if she really puts her mind and heart into it at this point and if you guys can make peace—and I respect your point of view, I respect hers—but if you guys can do it, what do you think? Is there hope? Will you let me know?”
After the Variety story was released—LaBeouf had declined to comment until after it had been published—the actor says he sent a lengthy email to Wilde, claiming she was wrong to say she had fired him when he had, in fact, quit the production.
“I know that you are beginning your press run for [Don’t Worry Darling] and that the news of my firing is attractive clickbait, as I am still persona-non-grata and may remain as such for the rest of my life,” he says. “But, speaking of my daughter, I often think about the news articles she will read when she is literate. And though I owe, and will owe for the rest of my life, I only owe for my actions.”
LaBeouf continues: “Firing me never took place, Olivia. And while I fully understand the attractiveness of pushing that story because of the current social landscape, the social currency that brings. It is not the truth. So I am humbly asking, as a person with an eye toward making things right, that you correct the narrative as best you can. I hope none of this negatively effects you, and that your film is successful in all the ways you want it to be.”
Though some folks are fixated on the language Wilde supposedly uses to describe Pugh—especially “Miss Flo”—the vast majority of the internet has spoken out against LaBeouf’s statements.
Ultimately, LaBeouf has faced controversy for over a decade at this point—including accusations of being a “pathological liar;” take that with what you will—which only makes the already complex Don’t Worry Darling situation more so.
There’s been no shortage of drama surrounding the release of Don’t Worry Darling, and Twitter users have made it their prerogative to take stances on every matter at hand. There’s potentially some beef between Pugh and Wilde; Wilde faced the wrath of Jason Sudeikis at CinemaCon while presenting the film; Harry Styles is now dating Wilde; and to top it all off, pre-release whispers about the movie suggest it’s not very good.
But the LaBeouf drama is, indeed, different from the aforementioned issues. While we’ve spent time joking about “Miss Flo” and speculating on disagreements between Pugh and Wilde, as one of the tweets above reads, when it comes to LaBeouf, this isn’t “tea.” Nothing he says or does is worth gossiping about. LaBeouf is an alleged liar and abuser, and we should remember that Wilde, Pugh, Styles, and Twigs are actual humans involved in the situation, not just spectacles to tittle-tattle about.
Why, if LaBeouf had a history of being violent and combative, especially toward women, would Wilde enlist him to play a lead role in her film? And why, after he allegedly proved to be violent and combative on set, would she beg him to stay? There is always the chance that LaBeouf is lying about quite a bit of background information at this point; Wilde has not yet commented.
This and several other unknowns surround Don’t Worry Darling, and the film itself hasn’t even premiered yet. It hits theaters on September 23.