LaBeouf was originally set to play Jack — the role now being played by Harry Styles — in the psychological drama, but he left just as production on the film began in August 2020. While the studio cited a scheduling conflict at the time, there were also conflicting reports over whether he was fired or if the departure was more of a mutual decision driven by, essentially, creative differences.
Wilde addressed LaBeouf’s departure for the first time in a Variety cover story earlier this week, which stated it was Wilde’s decision to fire LaBeouf. She called his acting process not “conducive to the ethos that I demand in my productions,” adding: “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.”
While LaBeouf’s reps reportedly declined to comment for the Wilde cover story, the actor himself apparently sent an email to the publication on Thursday, Aug. 25, saying he actually “quit the film due to lack of rehearsal time.” LaBeouf also forwarded two emails he said he sent Wilde several days after the cover story was published, in which he 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.”
LaBeouf also sent Variety screenshots of text messages he sent Wilde back in August 2020, telling the director he’d have to leave the film. The texts also suggested that LaBeouf and Wilde met to discuss his exit on Aug. 16, 2020, and later that night, Wilde reportedly texted LaBeouf, “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 says he “officially” quit Don’t Worry Darling the next day, Aug. 17, 2020. But based on the material he sent, it appears Wilde still wanted to find a way to keep him in the film. In a video message Wilde sent him several days after his departure, she said, “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.” Wilde also reportedly alluded to some potential tension between LaBeouf and co-star Florence Pugh, saying, “I think this might be a bit of a wake-up call for Miss Flo,” adding, “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?”
A rep for Wilde did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment on LaBeouf’s claims. Variety said it had “learned” that the texts exchanged between LaBeouf and Wilde in Aug. 2020 were sent before the production knew about LaBeouf’s acting methods.
Finally, it’s notable that LaBeouf’s email to Wilde about the cover story — which Variety printed in full — included a reference to his ongoing legal dispute with FKA Twigs. Twigs has accused LaBeouf of sexual battery, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She is set to take the actor to court next year. LaBeouf has denied the allegations.
“My failings with Twigs are fundamental and real, but they are not the narrative that has been presented,” LaBeouf wrote in his email. “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.”