The controversy in the lead-up to the release of Don’t Worry Darling continues, as director Olivia Wilde revealed she was “upset” that cuts were made to the trailer because sex scenes between Harry Styles and Florence Pugh were deemed “too provocative”. In an interview with the Associated Press in early September, Olivia said the Motion Picture Association (MPA) took out “a lot” from her original edit.
“There’s a lot that had to be taken out of the trailer. The MPA came down hard on me and the trailer at the last second and I had to cut some shots, which I was upset about because I thought they it took it up another notch,” she said. “But of course, we still live in a really puritanical society. I do think the lack of eroticism in American film is kind of new. Then when it comes to female pleasure, it’s something that we just don’t see very often unless you’re talking about queer cinema. You know, it’s interesting because in a lot of queer films, the female characters are allowed to have more pleasure. Audiences aren’t as puritanical as corporations think they are. And yet people get upset. I mean, people are upset with me already over this. I think it’s a testament to the film. We want to be provocative. The idea is not to make you feel safe.” In the film’s first trailer, one scene depicts Harry performing oral sex on Florence on a dining room table. Presumably, the director’s cut was even spicier.
Olivia’s emphasis on the film’s “eroticism” is a point of difference (and there appear to be many) from that of the film’s leading woman, Florence Pugh, who stars opposite Olivia’s real-life boyfriend Harry Styles. In an August 2022 interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Florence expressed disappointment that the movie’s sex scenes were such an obvious focus for its promotion. She also took an apparent dig at Olivia’s decision to cast Harry in a leading role.
“When it’s reduced to your sex scenes, or to watch the most famous man in the world go down on someone, it’s not why we do it,” she said. “It’s not why I’m in this industry… Obviously, the nature of hiring the most famous pop star in the world, you’re going to have conversations like that. That’s just not what I’m going to be discussing because [this movie is] bigger and better than that. And the people who made it are bigger and better than that.”
Don’t Worry Darling will premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 5 and hit theaters on September 23. It’ll be available to stream on HBO Max on November 7.