The internet wanted to know one thing and one thing only on Monday, September 5, 2022: Did Harry Styles just spit on Chris Pine?
The truth may never be revealed no matter how many times people replay the video. There's another issue that we may be able to address: Why would anyone believe that he did?
Styles and Pine are currently promoting their new film, Dont Worry Darling, directed by Olivia Wilde (Booksmart) and co-starring Midsommars Florence Pugh. The project has been at the forefront of a firestorm of celebrity gossip for over a year, culminating in the yesterday premiere at the Venice Film Festival, which produced this murky-but-extraordinary footage:
Chris Pine is seen to be spit on by #HarryStyles i will't sleep until i know the truth pic.twitter.com/wLXIHTYU
Styles nods his head and sits next to Pine to watch the film. He freezes mid-clap and looks down at his lap, as if something just landed there, or on his shoe. He smiles and shakes his head briefly, as if in disbelief.
It's a mesmerizing clip that has all of Twitter freezing, zooming, and expanding in search of some unknowable truth. Does Styles purse his lips and jerk his head forward, infinitesimally? It's possible. Along with the incongruous summery glamor of the setting, Pines' country-club bow tie and sockless ankles
Here's another angle that's no more convincing, although it's a little longer, and shows the two men attempting to exchange words in a friendly manner following the incident.
Harry takes his seat. #DontWorryDarling #venezia79 pic.twitter.com/by6DmYxvRS
To understand whats behind the frenzied over the clip, you have to take in the context: Dont Worry Darling's entire, tortured, gossipy saga, which guaranteeed that video footage from the films would be investigated to the point of its existence. This was even the first Pine-and-Styles meme of the day.
Here's a quick recap:
- Wilde reportedly began dating Styles during production, around the time she split from her partner Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso), with whom she has two children. Wilde and Styles are said to still be in a relationship, but havent gone public at any stage.
- Wilde was served with legal papers from Sudeikis pertaining to custody of her children while she was on stage at Las Vegas trade show CinemaCon, presenting Dont Worry Darling. This isnt necessarily relevant to the cast drama, but its still incredible that it happened.
- In a recent Variety profile, Wilde claimed that she had fired troubled actor Shia LaBeouf (who is facing assault charges from his ex, the singer FKA Twigs) from the film and replaced him with Styles. LaBeouf immediately disagreed, saying he had quit the production.
- Speculation of a rift between Pugh and Wilde has been rife, fueled by an apparent lack of enthusiasm on Pughs part for promoting the film. There are rumors that Pugh took issue with Wilde and Styles on-set relationship.
- Pugh did not attend the Venice press conference for Dont Worry Darling, officially due to a scheduling clash with the shoot for Dune: Part 2. She made a splashy entrance to the festival minutes later, but did not do any interviews.
- In a much-memed moment, Pine adopted a thousand-yard stare during Styles answers at the press conference.
the screams catching in his throat are almost evident on this twitter feed. http://twitter.com/AXtiPAd4zx
@Venezia79 pic.twitter.com/zmYxmvpbka I've just seen chris pine outta there.
- In his own comments, Pine was full of praise for Pugh, whom he was also seen photographing adoringly, but he didnt make much mention of Wilde or Styles.
- Wilde, Styles and Pugh all appeared to take pains not to be photographed next to each other at Venice, often leaving Pine and co-star Gemma Chan to act as human buffers
- In the midst of all this, reviews for the film were posted, and were decidedly mixed.
Interest in the public appearance of the cast in Venice, despite all of this gossip and the fact that very few individuals were addressed on the record, was intense. Pine, a relative bystander who had kept his nose clear of controversy throughout, sat in the eye of the storm and as the main focus of Monday's imagery.
What might have motivated Styles to disapprove of his fellow actor in this way? Some believe the younger actor was offended by Pines' eye-rolling during the press conference, while others believe his nose was put out of joint by Pines' apparent siding with Pugh in the still-apocryphal feud with Wilde.
We will probably never know who the alleged expectant in Venice was to the alleged on-set romance that sparked everything, none of the Dont Worry Darling controversy has been proved. We are all Chris Pine, disassociating blankly amid the noise or laughing jolly over the devastation that has just been dumped in our lap.
In all of this, the film itself has been totally overshadowed (although there is a school of thought that its box office will benefit there is no such thing as bad publicity, after all). In a couple of weeks, we may be able to judge it on its own terms, and for some certainly its publicists, and possibly Chris Pine, it will be a given relief.
On September 23, Dont Worry Darling will be released in cinemas.