Why Olivia Wilde And Florence Pugh Swapped Don't Worry Darling Roles

Florence Pugh is one of those actors who seems to have popped up on everyone's radars thanks to very different projects. Some became aware of her talent when they saw her in the acclaimed 2016 drama "Lady Macbeth." For others, it was the meme-ifying of her excellent crying face in "Midsommar" that got their attention. Or perhaps it was the way she helped you see Amy March in a whole new light in Greta Gerwig's "Little Women." Personally, it was Stephen Merchant's charming wrestling dramedy "Fighting with My Family" that gave me my first taste of Pugh-power.

What matters is we're all firmly onboard the Pugh train now heading into the release of her latest film, "Don't Worry Darling." Directed by Olivia Wilde in her second go-round after her directorial debut on the hilarious "Booksmart," the original thriller takes place in a seemingly utopian 1950s community where a woman named Alice (Pugh) lives with her husband Jack (Harry Styles). But is there more to Alice's home — a California town created and overseen by the enigmatic company Jack works for — than meets the eye? 

Nah. It's just a really nice place where everyone leads a happy life devoid of conflict.

Fine, fine. There are definitely some shady "The Stepford Wives" or "The Truman Show"-style shenanigans transpiring beneath the facade of Alice's idyllic life (with Wilde having also compared the film to "Inception" and "The Matrix"). Wilde herself co-stars in the movie as Alice's bestie Bunny, although she originally had her eye on playing Alice in order to make the project an easier sell to studios. What's more, Pugh was actually in talks to play Bunny instead of Alice when Wilde decided the pair should swap their roles.

'Well, she's extraordinary'

In an interview with Variety, Wilde admitted she came to feel she wasn't the right fit to play Alice. One of the big factors was age, as she realized Alice and Jack being a younger couple was essential to "Don't Worry Darling" and their role in the movie's story:

"There was something about the youthfulness, the innocence, that really made sense for the story. If I was Alice, I was like, 'Well, I'm going to be with a Jack who's my age or older, and now we're in a different age bracket.'"

By that point, Wilde had already seen Pugh in "Midsommar" and was, as she colorfully put it, "blown the f*** away by her." As much as Wilde enjoyed the film — as much as it's possible to genuinely "enjoy" Ari Aster's bleak break-up movie by way of folk-horror thriller, that is — it was Pugh who really took her breath away. "I was just like, 'Well, she's extraordinary. She's clearly the most exciting young actress working today," shared Wilde.

After meeting with Pugh for lunch, Wilde was confident she had found the right pick for Alice, stating she "knew [Pugh] was a superstar." Pugh would only continue to prove her right over the next three years, landing an acting Oscar nod for her role in "Little Women" and stealing the show as Natasha Romanoff's found-sister Yelena Belova in "Black Widow." However the rest of the film turns out (the early signs are promising!), there's little reason to doubt Wilde made the right call switching roles with Pugh, either.

"Don't Worry Darling" opens in theaters on September 23, 2022.