Shia LaBeouf has come forward to dispute the assertion that he was fired from “Don’t Worry Darling” by director Olivia Wilde just as production was starting in 2020.
LaBeouf asserts that he chose to leave the production because he didn’t feel the actors were given adequate time to rehearse. In the Aug. 24 cover story with Variety, Wilde opened up for the first time about LaBeouf’s departure from her film.
“I say this as someone who is such an admirer of his work. 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,” Wilde said.
LaBeouf’s representatives declined Variety‘s request for comment on the matter when contacted prior to the story’s publication.
But in email messages sent to Variety on Aug. 25, LaBeouf denied he was fired, instead claiming he “quit the film due to lack of rehearsal time” on Aug. 17, 2020. The actor forwarded two emails he claims to have sent to Wilde on Aug. 24 and Aug. 25 after the story was published. In the emails, LaBeouf wrote, “You and I both know the reasons for my exit. I quit your film because your actors and I couldn’t find time to rehearse.”
Variety has learned that the texts were sent before the production learned what Shia’s immersive method entailed.
Several studio sources told Variety at the time of LaBeouf’s exit that he had been fired from the project. But another source with knowledge of the situation describes the parting as more of a collective recognition that LaBeouf’s style of acting wasn’t a good fit for Wilde’s approach as a director. Representatives for Wilde and Warner Bros. declined to comment.
LaBeouf sent Variety screenshots of text messages he sent to Wilde in August 2020, where he told Wilde he’d have to back out of “Don’t Worry Darling.” He was cast as the lead actor Jack, which was later recast with Harry Styles.
According to the texts, LaBeouf and Wilde met in person in Los Angeles to discuss his exit from the film on Aug. 16, 2020. Later that night, Wilde texted him, “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 claims he “officially” quit “Don’t Worry Darling” the next day on Aug. 17, 2020, according to the email he sent to Wilde on Thursday morning.
He included a video to Variety that Wilde allegedly sent him on Aug. 19, 2020, two days after he claimed he quit. In the video, Wilde is driving a car and says she is “not ready to give up on this yet.” She also alludes to tension between LaBeouf and Florence Pugh, who stars in the film as Alice, the wife of LaBeouf and Styles’ character Jack.
“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 in the video. “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?”
In another message sent at an unspecified time between Aug. 16 and Aug. 20, Wilde texted LaBeouf, “You don’t have to be in my movies but don’t ever doubt me. We pinky promised. That means something in my house.”
Here is LaBeouf’s email to Wilde sent on Wednesday:
I hope this finds you inspired, purposeful, fulfilled & well. I pray every night that you & your family have health, happiness, & everything God would give me. No joke, every night before I sleep.
I have a little girl, Isabel; she is five months old and just beginning to develop the last half of her laugh; it’s AMAZING. Mia, my wife & I have found each other again & are journeying toward a healthy family with love and mutual respect.
I have embarked on a journey that feels redemptive & righteous (dirty word but fitting). I write to you now with 627 days of sobriety and a moral compass that never existed before my great humbling that was the last year and a quarter of my life. I reached out to you a few months ago to make amends; & I still pray one day, you can find space in your heart to forgive me for the failed collaboration we shared.
What inspired this email today is your latest Variety story. I am greatly honored by your words on my work; thank you, that felt good to read. I am a little confused about the narrative that I was fired, however. You and I both know the reasons for my exit. I quit your film because your actors & I couldn’t find time to rehearse. I have included as a reminder the screenshots of our text exchange on that day, and my text to Tobey.
I know that you are beginning your press run for DWD 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. 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.
My failings with Twigs are fundamental and real, but they are not the narrative that has been presented. There is a time and a place to deal with such things, and I am trying to navigate a nuanced situation with respect for her and the truth, hence my silence. But this situation with your film and my “firing” will never have a court date with which to deal with the facts. If lies are repeated enough in the public they become truth. And so, it makes it that much harder for me to crawl out of the hole I have dug with my behaviors, to be able to provide for my family.
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.
Every Blessing To You,