The release of the highly-anticipated psychological thriller Don’t Worry Darling is right around the corner. Directed by Olivia Wilde, the film follows a young, married couple who move into the seemingly utopian community of Victory, California in the ’50s.
While breaking down the dinner party scene in a recent interview, Wilde explained the significance of set design and props. She also revealed that an accidental fireplace explosion played right into her hopes for one of the movie’s more emotionally dense moments.
‘Don’t Worry Darling’: cast, story details, and setting
Wilde first announced her newest film in August 2019: the thriller mystery, Don’t Worry Darling. The movie centers around the husband-wife duo Jack and Alice Chambers (Harry Styles and Florence Pugh). They move to the suburban community of Victory, California for Jack’s new job at a mysterious company.
The town seems nothing short of perfect on the surface. However, Alice quickly starts to suspect that her idyllic desert community is a front for a much darker secret. Her investigation into the Victory Project starts to raise tensions within the tight-knit community, including her best friend, Bunny (Wilde), Bunny’s husband, Bill (Nick Kroll), and Victory’s charismatic founder, Frank (Chris Pine).
The first full trailer hit the internet in May, spurring major excitement from audiences eager to see Styles and the BAFTA-winning Pugh star in the leading roles. It premiered at the annual Venice Film Festival on September 5 to mixed reviews and will arrive in theaters on September 23.
During her “Notes On A Scene” interview with Vanity Fair, Wilde emphasized the significance of props and set design in a period film like Don’t Worry Darling. Ensuring the props were accurate to the time was key to nailing the movie’s ’50s-era aesthetic.
Plenty of practical effects must be considered while shooting a film, including continuity. Wilde praised the props department for their work in a specific scene where the characters all share a meal of raw fish:
“One thing that this frame also allows for is the ability to see this meal in front of them at this point, which is this massive, raw fish. The biblical metaphor is pretty clear at that point as a sort of Last Supper reference, but it’s also a testament to our actors and their focus to be able to shoot a scene for an entire day in front of a giant raw fish.”
Wilde continued: “It’s also a testament to our props department for keeping this food fresh and consistent in terms of continuity. Not an easy thing to do. Continuity in a dinner scene is everybody’s nightmare.”
How an accidental fireplace explosion helped convey an important moment in the film
While explaining the dinner party scene in Don’t Worry Darling, Wilde explained the significance of the fireplace in the shot’s background. According to her, an on-set accident played right into her hopes for an emotional moment. Wilde told Vanity Fair:
“One thing about having real fire on your set is that sometimes it might flare up and actually change the set itself. And we had a moment, nobody got hurt, but there was kind of a large explosion that happened in this fireplace. So, if you look in this frame, you will notice that there’s no black charring of the brick on the fireplace. But if I move forward just a little bit, you can see that this fireplace is now black, charred, which I kind of loved.”
Wilde continued, adding that crew members were initially worried about the charred fireplace. However, she insisted it stayed in the shot. It was an important symbol of Alice’s feelings at that particular moment.
“At one point, everybody freaked out,” Wilde said. “Anna Rain, our incredible script supervisor, came up to me and said, ‘Olivia, Olivia, Olivia, we can’t use it. That the fireplace is a different color. It’s all black now.’ And I thought, but that’s amazing, because emotionally, what has happened to Alice in this moment, is she has been kind of scorched. I really loved it.”
Olivia Wilde on working with the ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ cast
It’s no secret the Don’t Worry Darling cast is full of A-List celebrities. During her interview with Vanity Fair, Wilde gushed over working with some of Hollywood’s most in-demand performers and praised the actors for being “so active” in the dinner scene.
“In a scene like this, where so many of the actors in the scene are actually acting nonverbally, each of these actors came to the table, quite literally, with very different levels of acting experience,” said Wilde. “Even if you don’t have any lines in the scene, you can be such a huge part of that scene and be so active. And that’s what six out of eight actors were doing in the scene. They were completely involved and driving the scene without having to say anything.”
She then added that the cast completely surpassed her expectations for the dinner party scene, which she admitted she would’ve “loved” a full week to film.
“This scene took all day long and I would’ve loved seven days for this scene,” said Wilde. “I knew that I would only have a day, and so I asked quite a lot of the actors to come prepared, come ready, come focused. And they absolutely did, and they delivered in a way that would just far surpass my expectations.”