This past April, Olivia Wilde was excited to introduce her upcoming film, “Don’t Worry Darling,” to theater exhibitors at CinemaCon, a ticketed industry convention.
Wilde was onstage and ready to show the first footage from her second directorial project, a psychological thriller starring Florence Pugh and Harry Styles. Suddenly, she was handed a mysterious manila envelope, which was first reported to have a script inside — soon after, it was reported that the contents of the envelope were actually child custody papers from her former partner, Jason Sudeikis.
At the time, Sudeikis declined having anything to do with the incident, stating that he had no prior knowledge that Wilde would be served at the event.
“Papers were drawn up to establish jurisdiction relating to the children of Ms. Wilde and Mr. Sudeikis,” a statement read on behalf of Sudeikis. “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.”
Now, Wilde speaks about the CinemaCon incident for the first time.
In this week’s Variety cover story, she says it is “deeply painful” for her children to be involved in a public matter that should have remained private. (Wilde and Sudeikis, who were in a relationship from 2011 to 2020 and previously engaged, share two young children, Otis, 8, and Daisy, 5.)
“It was my workplace,” Wilde says, referring to the CinemaCon 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 didn’t miss a beat when she was interrupted by the mysterious envelope, carrying on with her presentation at the Las Vegas convention.
“I hated that this nastiness distracted from the work of so many different people and the studio that I was up there representing,” Wilde says. “To try to sabotage that was really vicious. But I had a job to do; I’m not easily distracted.
She adds, “But, you know, sadly, it was not something that was entirely surprising to me. I mean, there’s a reason I left that relationship.”
A judge recently ruled in Wilde’s favor that California is their children’s home state; not New York for which Sudeikis petitioned. Wilde first moved to London a few years ago with her family because that’s where Sudeikis films “Ted Lasso,” and she now splits her time between the UK and LA
“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. For me, it was appalling, but the victims were an 8- and 5-year-old, and that’s really sad,” Wilde says of the CinemaCon incident. “I chose to become an actress; I willingly walked into the spotlight. But it’s not something my children have asked for. And when my kids are dragged into it, it’s deeply painful.”
In her cover story, Wilde also reveals to Variety that she made the decision to push back her next directorial project, “Perfect,” which was originally supposed to be in production this summer. Wilde says she realized this was not the right time to be away from her children with the long hours on set that are required of a director.
“Perfect” is a 1990s-set biopic about Olympic gold medalist Kerry Strug, who will be played by Thomasin McKenzie. The Searchlight Pictures film was first announced in 2020.
Wilde says that the film recently went back into re-development, so that the script could be re-worked to reflect all that’s transpired with the USA Gymnastics sex-abuse scandal, which involved hundreds of victims and resulted in brave testimony from Olympians like Aly Raisman and Simone Biles. The film will still be based in the ’90s and not in current times, but is being further developed to better portray the characters involved in USA Gymnastics, with all that has come to light over the past few years.
With the film going back into development, Wilde decided that she also needed a break. “It became clear to me that this year was a time for me to be a stay-at-home mom,” she says. “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.”
Of her two children, Wilde says, “They are my world… They are my best friends.”