Olivia Wilde praises Harry Styles for taking a supporting role. Critics ask, Why?

Actress-director Olivia Wilde and singer-actor Harry Styles.
Actress-director Olivia Wilde and singer-actor Harry Styles.
(Getty Images)

Director Olivia Wilde is impressed with Harry Styles for accepting a supporting role opposite Florence Pugh in her forthcoming movie, “Don’t Worry Darling.” Critics on Twitter? Not so much.

On Monday, Wilde posted a photo of Styles on the set of her latest project, along with a lengthy Instagram caption praising the budding actor for playing a secondary character in a film led by a woman. But many on social media took issue with the idea of applauding men for doing “the bare minimum,” such as taking a back seat to accomplished women in their field.

“Little known fact: most male actors don’t want to play supporting roles in female-led films,” Wilde wrote under a black-and-white photo of Styles lounging on a vintage car for the period thriller. The filmmaker expressed her gratitude to Styles as part of a series of posts highlighting various cast and crew members’ contributions to the drama.


“The industry has raised them to believe it lessens their power (i.e. financial value) to accept these roles, which is one of the reasons it’s so hard to get financing for movies focusing on female stories,” she continued. “No joke, it is harrrrrd to find actors who recognize why it might be worth it to allow for a woman to hold the spotlight. Enter: @harrystyles, our ‘Jack.’”

Set in the 1950s, “Don’t Worry Darling” stars Styles and Pugh as husband and wife among a stacked ensemble cast that includes Wilde, Kiki Layne, Gemma Chan, Nick Kroll, Asif Ali and Chris Pine. The project is Wilde’s follow-up to her acclaimed feature directorial debut, “Booksmart.”

“Not only did [Styles] relish the opportunity to allow for the brilliant @florencepugh to hold center stage as our ‘Alice,’ but he infused every scene with a nuanced sense of humanity,” Wilde, who is rumored to be dating Styles, added in her appreciation post.

“He didn’t have to join our circus, but he jumped on board with humility and grace, and blew us away every day with his talent, warmth, and ability to drive backwards.”

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While a number of people in the entertainment industry and beyond were quick to second Wilde’s admiration for Styles, several were of the opinion that commending the “Watermelon Sugar” singer for simply fulfilling his role as an actor was unnecessary — and that “the bar is in hell” for men when it comes to supporting women.


“So we are celebrating an emerging male actor for doing the job he was hired to do?” writer and critic Hanna Ines Flint wrote in a tweet that has amassed more than 3,000 likes. “We get it, you love him and he is great but this one is for bare minimum Twitter.”

“I LOVE Harry styles but why are we celebrating the bare minimum?” echoed Twitter user @chaoticlonghorn. “Women in lead actor positions shouldn’t have to hope their costar will step aside and let them do their job. This is stupid and dumb and we can’t keep celebrating this guy for doing nothing.”

Many also referenced Pugh’s acting resume, which is far more extensive than that of Styles — who entered the entertainment scene as a musician and only recently made his feature film debut in 2017’s “Dunkirk.” By contrast, Pugh has starred in multiple high-profile projects and was nominated for an Oscar last year for her performance in Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women.”

“This is especially infuriating because of how accomplished @Florence_Pugh is,” @chaoticlonghorn continued. “It’s not like she’s some unknown who needed help. She’s a powerhouse and Harry had a lot to learn from HER. We cannot celebrate men for allowing women to flourish. Women would flourish even w/out men.”

“So good of Harry Styles, who had a small role in Dunkirk, to allow Oscar-nominated Florence Pugh to take the lead on this one,” joked Twitter user @BoscoTD.

Wilde praised other A-listers in her ensemble as well.

Shortly after “Don’t Worry Darling” completed production over the holiday weekend — before posting the Styles compliment — Wilde also shared a sweet photo of herself and Pugh embracing on set and lauded the actress for her work on the film. On Tuesday morning, she spotlighted cast member and friend Pine.


“To work with an actor as talented and brave as @florencepugh is any director’s dream,” Wilde wrote in her post about Pugh. “I will forever be grateful for you, Flo. It was an honor to be your captain.

“Can’t wait for the world to see the astonishing work you’ve put into this movie. Tom Cruise run + Meryl skills = THE FLO. Special thanks to no one for telling me a i had tape stuck to my butt in this moment. I LOVE YOU, DON’T WORRY DARLING.”

See more reactions to Wilde’s Instagram tribute to Styles below.