Olivia Wilde is the woman behind the beloved coming-of-age film, Booksmart, and the upcoming star-studded psychological thriller, Don’t Worry Darling. She also played Alex in The OC, which is iconic in itself.
That’s why we’re all ears when the director talks frankly about the way she runs things on her projects. And the latest lesson she’s shared about having a “no assholes” policy on set is well worth listening to.
Wilde chatted with fellow female director Emerald Fennell (Killing Eve, Promising Young Woman) in a recording for Variety.
When Fennell mentions that she’d heard about Wilde’s policy, Wilde replies: “Someone, who’s a very established actor and director in this industry, gave me really terrible advice that was helpful, because I just knew I had to do the opposite.
“They said, ‘Listen, the way to get respect on a set, you have to have three arguments a day. Three big arguments that reinstate your power, remind everyone who’s in charge, be the predator.’ That is the opposite of my process. And I want none of that.”
Wile explains there is a long-held idea that “great art has to come from a place of discomfort and anxiety” and “the pressure cooker has to get to a point where it can be something intense and valuable in that way”.
She offers an alternative approach, which she thinks might be a uniquely female instinct, to say: “Look, we can be nurturing. And we can multitask. It doesn’t mean that anyone needs to be uncomfortable. And it doesn’t mean that I have to constantly remind you of my position, because I don’t think anyone on a set has ever forgotten who’s in charge. It’s in fact, an incredibly hierarchical system.”
She adds: “The no assholes policy – it puts everybody on the same level.”
Wilde shared these important words after replacing Shia LaBeouf with Harry Styles in Don’t Worry Darling last September. Variety later reported in December that Wilde had in fact fired LaBeouf for exhibiting “poor behavior”. The actor is also being sued by singer FKA Twigs for “sexual battery, assault and infliction of emotional distress”. Wilde has since shown her support for Twigs, writing: ‘Love, respect, and support […]”
Wilde’s policy shows just how vital it is to do follow your own gut and do things the right way at work.