Chris Pine Reveals What Harry Styles Really Said to Him in Viral "Spitgate" Moment
A moment between the Don't Worry Darling co-stars was picked apart on social media.
It's arguable that no 2022 movie generated more gossip than Don't Worry Darling, the psychological thriller led by Florence Pugh and singer Harry Styles. From Styles' on-set romance with director Olivia Wilde to Pugh's reluctance to talk about or promote the film, the internet couldn't seem to stop talking about the production and its aftermath. Everything reached a fever pitch at the Venice Film Festival in early September of last year, where Pugh skipped out on a press conference featuring the rest of the main cast and, most memorably, a clip from the premiere emerged that made some viewers believe that Styles had spat on co-star Chris Pine when he was returning to his seat. Dubbed "Spitgate" and studied at the slowest speed possible, the video had online conspiracy theorists rapt.
Now, Pine has not only debunked the theory but also explained exactly what Styles said to him at the moment in question. Read on to learn more.
Don't Worry Darling is set within a strangely perfect '50s community.
In Wilde's film, the follow-up to her directorial debut Booksmart, Pugh plays Alice, a glamorous '50s housewife who begins to sense that someone is deeply wrong in the town of Victory, despite her perfect friends and seemingly perfect husband, Jack (Styles). As she follows her intuition, she runs afoul of Frank (Pine), the charismatic boss of Jack and all the other Victory husbands, who are working on a top-secret project out in the desert.
The original script was written by Cary and Shane Van Dyke (grandsons of Dick Van Dyke) and was on the industry's Black List—a list of the best un-produced scripts floating around Hollywood—in 2019. It was rewritten by Katie Silberman, who also worked with Wilde on Booksmart.
Gossip about the cast and director started to overshadow the movie.
Don't Worry Darling was Styles' second movie role after making his debut in a small part in Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk. His involvement would have been enough to invite scrutiny from his fans, but then rumors about him and Wilde growing close on set were confirmed when they were photographed together at his manager's wedding in January 2021. Wilde had been in a long-term relationship with Ted Lasso star Jason Sudeikis for nine years and they have two children. Amid rumors that Styles had broken them up, Wilde told Vanity Fair that she and Sudeikis had been "long over" when she and the pop star began dating on set. (They've since reportedly split.)
On top of this drama, fans started to suspect that Pugh was not happy with the experience, because she rarely promoted Don't Worry Darling on her social media and seemed reluctant to talk about it in interviews. (The reason given for her absence from the Venice press conference was filming commitments to Dune: Part Two, though she memorably emerged on social media a few hours later, wearing a breezy purple set, sipping an aperol spritz, and looking unbothered.) Page Six published a report a few weeks later claiming that Pugh was annoyed by Styles and Wilde frequently "disappearing" from set together, and that she and Wilde got into a "screaming match" in front of everyone—a claim crew members denied.
In addition, Shia LaBeouf, who had originally been cast in the part of Jack, publicly disputed claims made by Wilde that he was fired from the film.
Pine became a meme at the Venice Film Festival.
Because of all the noise, fans were understandably tuned in to every move and expression made by the cast when they debuted the movie at the Venice Film Festival, searching for some proof that the rumors of on-set strife were true. Pine particularly caught the internet's attention when he seemed to zone out during the Don't Worry Darling press conference, leading to the circulation of multiple memes. Social media also noticed that Pine seemed to put on a pair of sunglasses when the lights went down at the premiere and concluded that he planned to sleep through the film.
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Twitter somehow decided that Styles spit on Pine.
In a clip from the Venice premiere, Styles returns to his seat next to Pine and bends down towards him before he sits. Some viewers believed that they could see something leave his mouth, leading them to believe that Styles spit on his co-star. Internet sleuths got to work, slowing down the clip so they could check it frame by frame. Even media outlets were wondering whether or not it was true.
Pine quickly addressed the conspiracy theory through his representative, who told People, "This is a ridiculous story—a complete fabrication and the result of an odd online illusion that is clearly deceiving and allows for foolish speculation," adding that that there was "nothing but respect" between the actors.
Styles, for his part, joked about the rumor at one of his concerts.""I just popped very quickly to Venice to spit on Chris Pine," he told a Madison Square Garden crowd with a laugh at his Sept. 7, 2022 show. "But fret not, we're back!"
Pine just revealed what really happened between them.
In a video for Esquire that was posted March 1 (strong language in the clip above), Pine was asked several questions about his career. Firstly, he was shown several of the memes generated from his stone-faced appearance at the Venice press conference, which made the actor laugh.
"It's a long flight to [expletive] Italy," Pine answered, as to how he was really feeling at that moment. "It's a long time, I'm so jetlagged, and then you get thrown into a press conference where you have to talk about a film you made five-and-a-half years ago. I was just tired, frankly."
Then, he was asked to address "Spitgate."
"Harry did not spit on me. Harry's a very, very kind guy," the star said before recalling how his publicist woke him up on a plane in a panic after the moment went viral. Though Pine acknowledged that he does see how someone could come to that conclusion from the video, he was very clear that he and Styles were actually sharing a private joke.
"I think what he was, he leaned down, and I think he said, 'It's just words, isn't it?'" Pine recalled. "Because we had this little joke, because we're all jetlagged, we're all trying to answer these questions, and sometimes when you're doing these press things, your brain goes befuddled, and you start speaking gibberish, and we had a joke: 'It's just words, man.'"