The behind-the – scenes rumpus over Olivia Wilde’s new film Don’t Worry Darling rages on, entertainingly, in Venice.
The picture — which features Harry Styles in his first starring role — will have its premiere at the Film Festival on Monday.
But it can be revealed that Styles’s co-star Florence Pugh — who had already pulled out of a number of planned interviews — is now skipping both the press conference and the photocall to promote it.
She’s planning to plaster on a smile for the walk up the red carpet at the premiere, and then high-tail it back to Budapest, where she is filming the Dune sequel.
Apparently, the 26-year-old is not even staying for dinner with her co-stars or director. What’s more, people are now even asking whether Styles, 28, will make it to Venice.
It can be revealed that Styles’s co-star Florence Pugh — who had already pulled out of a number of planned interviews — is now skipping both the press conference and the photocall to promote it
So far neither Warner Bros (who are distributing the film) nor Styles’s agents have responded to requests for comment. If he does fail to show it will be awkward, given that Don’t Worry Darling is directed by his girlfriend, Wilde, and it was thanks to the film that a red-hot romance blossomed between the two of them.
Their photocall, press conference and premiere appearances would be their first public outings as a couple (though they were initially seen together last year).
Styles, wearing his singer’s hat, has been performing at New York’s Madison Square Gardens as part of an American tour (to support his album Harry’s House), and has a concert there tomorrow night and again on Wednesday, leaving a window in the diary for him to nip to Venice.
Though he had a minor part in Dunkirk, the part of Jack Chambers in Don’t Worry Darling is his first leading role on the big screen. For those not up to speed with the film’s lively backstory, here goes. Florence Pugh plays Alice, who lives in a seemingly idyllic community with husband Jack, an employee of the mysterious Victory Project.
The picture — which features Harry Styles in his first starring role — will have its premiere at the Film Festival on Monday
Shia LaBeouf was initially cast as Jack, but left the project before a frame was shot. Director Wilde said this was down to the actor’s ‘combative energy’. She felt she had a duty to protect Florence Pugh.
But LaBeouf hit back, releasing horribly embarrassing footage and emails which showed Wilde seeming to chide Pugh (or ‘Miss Flo’ as she called her) for not finding the time to rehearse with her screen husband, and begging him to stick with the project. At one point Wilde wrote that she hoped LaBeouf could still do the film ‘if you guys can make peace’.
Meanwhile, Pugh apparently hated watching Styles and Wilde become closer, on set because Wilde, 38, was at the time engaged to actor Jason Sudeikis, father of her two children. Pugh also didn’t care for the way her love scenes with Styles were exploited in the run-up to the premiere.
She said: ‘When it’s reduced to your sex scenes . . . to watch the most famous man in the world go down on someone . . . it’s not why we do it.’ Wilde must surely be feeling the pressure. She was famously served with papers relating to custody of her children while on stage, talking about the film, back in April. Don’t Worry Darling will be released in UK cinemas on September 23.
Anita Rani may finally be ready to appear on Celebrity Mastermind, after several unsuccessful attempts to entice her onto the show. ‘I’ve always said no in the past, but maybe the time has come to do it,’ says Anita, who is currently hosting the quiz show Fastest Finger First on ITV. Part of her reluctance is down to what she calls ‘an embarrassing experience’ on a Children In Need University Challenge special in 2020. ‘I forgot which Bronte sister wrote Wuthering Heights,’ she says, ‘which, as a Yorkshirewoman who loves the novel, was mortifying!’ Anita says the Indiana Jones movies and hit BBC drama Sherwood could be her specialist subjects.
It’s not that weird to have a crush on quiz queen Victoria
She has a hugely successful TV career, but Only Connect host Victoria Coren Mitchell remains refreshingly vanity-free when it comes to her looks.
The TV personality (and professional poker player), who is married to actor and comedian David Mitchell and has one child, told me she revels in her status as a ‘weird crush’.
She said: ‘Mostly I get copied into messages on the internet where people are saying ‘You’ll think I’ve gone mad, but I quite fancy her #WeirdCrush.’ I also get: ‘Is it just me, or is she a bit attractive?’
‘My husband gets the same kind of thing. As if it’s totally off the wall to find us anything other than revolting.
‘I quite appreciate that, though. I never wanted to be mainstream. I like being niche.’
In this, she is like her show, which she describes as ‘its own strange little self’. Only Connect, which this week started its 18th series, has gone from being a niche, super-difficult quiz show on BBC Four to being a niche, super-difficult quiz show on BBC Two.
The TV personality (and professional poker player), who is married to actor and comedian David Mitchell and has one child, told me she revels in her status as a ‘weird crush’
It’s still a long way from Mastermind (48 series) or University Challenge (51) but is now in the same ballpark as Eggheads (20) and Pointless (27), and has equally devoted fans.
Coren Mitchell, 50, reflected that she had ‘no expectations at all’ when starting out. ‘I just thought it was a great quiz, and it was made in Cardiff by the company who invented televised poker. So I thought it would be fun to go there and try this experiment with them.
‘It was for BBC Four, so I knew it would be intelligent — and if it wasn’t, chances are nobody would see it anyway. The main thing that surprises me now is that we’re on a much bigger channel, with literally millions of viewers, but nobody has tried to interfere with it.
‘Only Connect remains its strange little self, and they just let the audience find us. I’m incredibly grateful for that.’
She went on: ‘Our contestants are wonderful, the absolute best of British. They come along to play, with no prizes available, for the sheer love of knowledge and puzzling and competition.’
She described the show as ‘British to its core’, reckoning that to really get it, ‘you need to have a culture as vast and eclectic as ours, a language as flexible as ours, a sense of humour as quirky as ours, and a population as brilliant and curious and puzzly as ours’.
‘Then again, if it ever got made in Dutch or Japanese I think I’d get some money out of it, which would be nice,’ she quipped. ‘So let’s say yes, a foreign version could only be better.’
This series is particularly special, as it is dedicated to the memory of executive producer Chris Stuart, who launched the series in 2008 and died earlier this year. ‘He was an amazing and inspiring man, and I loved him very much,’ Coren Mitchell said. ‘I’m frightened of carrying on without him.’
Catherine the (reluctantly) great
French screen legend Catherine Deneuve was honoured by the Venice Film Festival with a Golden Lion award for lifetime achievement on Wednesday, but didn’t seem to be enjoying looking back on her 65-year career.
Deneuve, 78, proved adept at avoiding a straight answer — in three languages. How does she feel about being an icon? ‘No! That’s a word that can be used, but I’m not, no.’
Or being a sex symbol? ‘I was never a sex symbol. You won’t find me in very sexy photos.’ Really? ‘It was a challenge to be good-looking, but it’s not something which has been too important for me these past few years, of course. And it’s much better to be old in Europe than it is in America, especially as a woman.’
Of her career she observes modestly: ‘There was a lot of luck.’ She had a minor stroke in 2019 but continues to work.
She will soon make a comedy, Funny Birds, set on a chicken farm in rural New Jersey, alongside Andrea Riseborough, 40, and 27-year-old Morgan Saylor, who played Dana Brody (Damian Lewis’s daughter) in Homeland.
Deneuve, 78, proved adept at avoiding a straight answer — in three languages. How does she feel about being an icon? ‘No! That’s a word that can be used, but I’m not, no’
Viewers will decide whether Amazon’s The Rings Of Power or HBO’s House Of The Dragon is more their cup of tea. But the launch of the two telly mega-series has everyone comparing J. R. R. Tolkien and George R. R. Martin — and the cast have been asked who would win in a fight. Ismael Cruz Cordova, who plays elf Arondir in the Lord Of The Rings prequel (which kicks off today), clearly suspects Martin would triumph, wailing: ‘I don’t feel good about this question. I need job security! I’m really struggling right now,’ before plumping for Tolkien.
They’ve worked together on the best-selling albums Ray Of Light and Music, and now record producer William Orbit has revealed that Madonna likes to go walkabout — incognito — in very public places . . . and burst into song.
Speaking at the launch of his new album The Painter, Orbit recalled strolling through New York with the Queen of Pop.
‘Madonna knows every musical there ever was,’ he said. ‘We’re walking through New York and there are all these billboards of musicals, with tourists looking at them. She starts singing the songs — but she’s in a hoodie, singing.
‘You’ve got Mr and Mrs Joe from the Midwest looking at a poster, and behind them there’s me — this geeky, slightly tired-looking bloke — and M, who is quite diminutive when she wants to be. It’s like: you guys don’t realise that right behind you, Madonna is singing!’
Emily’s chips off the old block . . .
Flee, you young Foxes, and run for cover, Cusacks: a new acting dynasty is emerging.
Sam and May Nivola (pictured), the son and daughter of actors Emily Mortimer and Alessandro Nivola, are the stars of White Noise, an adaptation of the novel by Don DeLillo which launched the Venice Film Festival this year. Adam Driver plays their father.
Sam, 18, and May, 12, were previously seen in The Pursuit Of Love, which mother Emily directed for the BBC last year. But this is the first major role for both of them.
White Noise’s director Noah Baumbach said: ‘I have known Emily Mortimer and Alessandro Nivola for years, and admired them tremendously. We were looking for kids and went through audition after audition, and all the callbacks, and these two Nivola kids kept on coming up to the surface. They were just so wonderful.’
White Noise will be released in cinemas in the UK in November and stream on Netflix from December.
Sam and May Nivola (pictured), the son and daughter of actors Emily Mortimer and Alessandro Nivola, are the stars of White Noise, an adaptation of the novel by Don DeLillo which launched the Venice Film Festival this year