How Don't Worry Darling Landed That Party Scene Cameo [Exclusive]

This post contains minor spoilers for "Don't Worry Darling."

Olivia Wilde's new film "Don't Worry Darling" is set in a remote, idyllic enclave — one that looks very much like Palm Springs, California — in about 1960. During the day, the local men drive to work in shiny, candy-colored cars. They all work in the same mysterious office building out beyond the edge of town. While the men work, the women stay at home to clean and prepare meals. The women gossip and drink and shop and attend dance classes. The nights are full of cocktails, parties, and sex. The city — called Victory — is overseen by a mayoral, Jordan Peterson-type named Frank, who seems to have constructed Victory to serve as a gated community devoted to wealth and comfort. There are echoes of Ayn Rand in his frequent backyard speeches to the citizens. 

Of course, there's a dark secret afoot, and the true nature of Victory is hidden from the audience's view. Alice (Florence Pugh) is disturbed by recurring nightmares and visions, and witnesses a peer (KiKi Layne) come to mental ruin just next door. Her investigation into Victory reveals dark and troubling conspiracies. 

Alice's Husband Jack (Harry Styles) is poised to move up in the vaguely Masonic/corporate world of Victory, and a centerpiece of Wilde's film is a large party sequence wherein the entire town gathers in a glitzy night club to drink, listen to music, hand out awards, and take in a sexy burlesque act. The burlesque performer is none other than noted cabaret vedette and burlesque icon Dita Von Teese

/Film recently talked to Arianne Phillips, the costume designer for "Don't Worry Darling," and she, it turns out, was a neighbor and a friend of Von Teese. Phillips recalled the conversation where Von Teese was proposed for the movie.

Dita Von Teese

Dita Von Teese plays a character named Gigi, and her act — one of Von Teese's more famous numbers — involves her climbing into an enormous, water-filled martini glass. She smiles and flirts with the audience. When /Film's Jack Giroux asked about the costuming challenges of dressing an entire room of people, Phillips said she started by asking herself what the intended atmosphere of the party was meant to be. This led directly into the involvement of Von Teese, as Phillips noted that the party was meant to be rife with sexual tension. A sexy burlesque act would certainly aid in said tension, and Phillips happened to know one of the best performers. She said: 

"[W]hen I first read it, I was like, 'There's a lot of description of this sexual tension in the room.' And I was like 'Wow, Dita Von Teese should be in this, she would be perfect for this.' She happens to be a friend and a neighbor. So I just casually mentioned Olivia, we were having a meeting. I'm like, 'You should have Dita.' And she's like, 'Oh gosh, that would be incredible. I don't even know how that could happen.' I'm like, 'Well, let me just send her a text.' 

That was it. Send a text. Luckily for Phillips and Wilde, Von Teese was available. Von Teese is typically in very high demand, has performed at the Crazy Horse in Paris, and tours regularly. Indeed, in 2023, she'll be starting her own Glamonatrix tour. Tickets are on sale on her website. "Don't Worry Darling" was, as timing would have it, being filmed during COVID-related lockdowns. Von Teese's shows were largely shut down, and she was more than happy to haul out the martini glass for a friend.

Just send her a text

Phillips was glad to have Von Teese involved, as not only was she able to rescue a neighbor from boredom, but was able to lend the party scene the tension it warranted. Von Teese's act is only glimpsed briefly, but everyone in the room certainly enjoyed it. One unspoken advantage is that the entire cast and crew of "Don't Worry Darling" were treated to, essentially, their very own Von Teese show. Phillips said: 

"I sent her a text and at the time, because we were shooting just after lockdown, had to cancel her tour and she's like, 'Yeah, I'm home bored, I would love it.' So it worked out and that was really fun to have her there because I think that really added to that sexual tension that was on page and the debauchery and the decadence of that scene."

Von Teese, when she's not appearing in documentaries or dance videos, typically plays herself in film and on TV. The character of Gigi could very well have been Dita Von Teese, had "Don't Worry Darling" been set in the present day. One of her more notable recent roles was as a mirror-bound ghost in the short-lived Netflix puppet/cooking show "The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell." She also notoriously appeared in a few of Marilyn Manson's music videos, as she was married to the ousted shock rocker from 2005 to 2007 (their marriage, incidentally, was officiated by Alejandro Jodorowsky). Her next film will be a biography of Vanessa Del Rio called "The Latin from Manhattan."

"Don't Worry Darling" is currently playing in theaters.