Olivia Wilde announced herself as a filmmaker to watch and be excited about when she gifted us with her feature directorial debut Booksmart, last year. A critically acclaimed, hilarious delight packed with poignant musings on friendship and identity, Booksmart triumphed in adding an intelligent new spin to the coming-of-age comedy genre.
Her directorial debut certainly caught the attention of film producers and studio executives within the industry, with New Line Cinema trumping a total of 18 bids that were submitted for Wilde’s new project Don’t Worry Darling in what was one of the most competitive film auctions of the 2019 calendar year.
Don’t Worry Darling is a psychological thriller set in an isolated, utopian community in the 1950s California desert and centres on a housewife whose reality begins to crack as she uncovers a disturbing truth about her seemingly perfect life. It has recently been announced that the film will star Florence Pugh, Shia LaBeouf and Chris Pine with Pugh leading the ensemble in the role of the unnamed housewife. Wilde will also star in the feature, as well as direct and produce, and she will again be teaming up with BAFTA-nominated screenwriter Katie Silberman, who was one of the writers on Booksmart. Silberman is writing the screenplay for Don’t Worry Darling from a spec script by Shane & Carey Van Dyke.
Pugh is coming off of a break out year in 2019, gaining wide acclaim for her starring role in Ari Aster’s unsettling horror film Midsommar, receiving an Academy Award® and BAFTA nomination for her performance in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women and starring alongside Chris Pine in Outlaw King. She next stars in Marvel Studio’s Black Widow alongside Scarlett Johansson, which is scheduled for an October 29 release.
LaBeouf has also had an outstanding year, widely praised for his autobiographical feature Honey Boy, for which he wrote the screenplay and starred in, as well as his performance in the indie darling The Peanut Butter Falcon.
Pine will next reprise his role as Steve Trevor in Warner Brothers’ Wonder Woman 1984; the highly anticipated follow up to the DC super hero’s first outing, 2017’s record-breaking Wonder Woman. He has also recently wrapped production on the action-thriller Violence of Action alongside Ben Foster and Gillian Jacobs.
Wilde’s directing skills have proved to be in high demand as she is confirmed to direct and executive produce the Searchlight feature Perfect, a biopic about US Olympic gymnast Kerri Strug. Additionally, she has also signed on to direct and produce an untitled holiday comedy at Universal. When asked about the incredible interest shown from studios in acquiring her upcoming projects in a December interview with Deadline, Wilde had the following to say:
“It was extraordinary and unexpected. The groundswell of support and enthusiasm was extraordinary. I didn’t expect it. I didn’t know what to expect. I just hoped I’d be able to direct again, and this was even before the release. You know, just finishing the film, I thought, I want to do well enough that I get to do this again, and then, when I did feel an incredible amount of curiosity about what I wanted to do next, and a lot of offers coming my way, I was encouraged. Because there is, of course, a pattern in Hollywood of particularly women not being given an opportunity to make their second feature, if their first doesn’t score at the box office. So, so many female directors had one chance, and they aren’t given another chance as rapidly as the men are.
So, when I felt all the support, I was so encouraged to witness what I think is a sign of change in our industry. I felt that I was being given an opportunity that many male directors, frankly, have been given, a chance to do it again. And I felt that this was a sign that my work was being appreciated not because of box office numbers, but because of the effect that it’s having on audiences that did get to see it. And so, it was entirely shocking, and also really encouraging, and I hope that it is a sign of things to come.
I hope that all of my female directing peers are sensing that same shift, that the ability to continue working is not predicated upon box office, but rather skill, [that] meritocracy is working the way it should.”
While no new production dates for Don’t Worry Darling have been set, New Line Cinema hopes to begin filming as soon as COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted, and it is safe to do so. Prior to the global pandemic, the project was set to commence early June. We can’t wait to see what Olivia Wilde produces with her next directorial efforts.