Olivia Wilde on public serving of custody papers: ‘It was really upsetting’

Don’t Worry Darling director says delivery of documents from ex-partner Jason Sudeikis during on-stage presentation was ‘vicious’

Olivia Wilde has spoken publicly for the first time about the “vicious” serving of custody papers during a CinemaCon presentation, calling the public ambush by a process server “deeply painful”.

In a new Variety cover story, the 38-year-old actor and director referred to the April incident in which she was handed a manila envelope by a woman in the front row at CinemaCon, interrupting Wilde’s presentation of her upcoming film, Don’t Worry Darling, to theater exhibitors at a ticketed industry event. The envelope was first reported to contain a script, then revealed to hold legal papers pertaining to her custody dispute with former partner Jason Sudeikis. Wilde and the Ted Lasso star, who dated from 2011 to 2020 and were once engaged, have two young children, eight and five.

Shortly after the delivery, a representative for Sudeikis said the actor did not know the papers would be served in such a public forum, in front of industry insiders at the starry conference in Las Vegas. “Mr Sudeikis had no prior knowledge of the time or place that the envelope would have been delivered as this would solely be up to the process service company involved and he would never condone her being served in such an inappropriate manner,” the spokesperson told Deadline.

“It was my workplace,” Wilde told Variety of the incident, without naming Sudeikis. “In any other workplace, it would be seen as an attack. It was really upsetting. It shouldn’t have been able to happen. There was a huge breach in security, which is really scary. The hurdles that you had to jump through to get into that room with several badges, plus special Covid tests that had to be taken days in advance, which gave you wristbands that were necessary to gain access to the event – this was something that required forethought.”

Wilde carried on with her presentation while holding the envelope, marked “personal and confidential”.

“I hated that this nastiness distracted from the work of so many different people and the studio that I was up there representing,” she said of her introduction of Don’t Worry Darling, her first feature after her 2019 directorial debut Booksmart. “To try to sabotage that was really vicious. But I had a job to do; I’m not easily distracted.”

She added: “But, you know, sadly, it was not something that was entirely surprising to me. I mean, there’s a reason I left that relationship.”

Olivia Wilde, Jason Sudeikis and children.
Olivia Wilde, Jason Sudeikis and children. Photograph: Presley Ann/WireImage

A judge recently ruled in favor of Wilde that their children reside in California, not New York, as Sudeikis petitioned. According to Variety, Wilde, who is currently dating pop star and Don’t Worry Darling actor Harry Styles, now splits her time between LA and the UK, where she first moved a few years ago while Sudeikis filmed Ted Lasso.

“The only people who suffered were my kids, because they’ll have to see that, and they shouldn’t ever have to know that happened,” she said. “For me, it was appalling, but the victims were an eight- and five-year-old, and that’s really sad.”

“I chose to become an actress; I willingly walked into the spotlight,” she added. “But it’s not something my children have asked for. And when my kids are dragged into it, it’s deeply painful.”

Wilde also refuted reports of an alleged pay disparity between Styles and Don’t Worry Darling co-star Florence Pugh, saying there was “absolutely no validity” to such claims. (The website that originally reported the alleged salary gap, Showbiz Galore, did not cite any sources or provide any backing for its report, which claimed that Pugh made $700,000 to Styles’ $2.5m.)

“The absurdity of invented clickbait and subsequent reaction regarding a nonexistent pay disparity between our lead and supporting actors really upset me,” said Wilde. “I’m a woman who has been in this business for over 20 years, and it’s something that I have fought for myself and others, especially being a director.”

Don’t Worry Darling, a 50s-set thriller which also stars Wilde, is set to premiere at this year’s Venice film festival.

The director revealed that she decided to delay her upcoming third feature, Perfect, which was set to go into production this summer, to spend more time with her children. “It became clear to me that this year was a time for me to be a stay-at-home mom,” she said. “It was not the year for me to be on a set, which is totally all-encompassing. It was time for me to pause and devote myself to the kids when I have them.”

Perfect, a 90s-set biopic starring Thomasin Mackenzie as Olympic gold medalist gymnast Kerri Strug, has gone back into redevelopment to better reflect recent developments with the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal. It was first announced in 2020.


Adrian Horton

The GuardianTramp

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