Harry Styles and Olivia Wilde are said to be “very serious” about each other, but their relationship raises new ethical questions over “locationships” between an actor and a director.
In 2012, Kristen Stewart’s on-set romance with Rupert Sanders, director of “Snow White and the Huntsman,” caused a major Hollywood scandal.
“Snow White and the Huntsman” had a solid $396.6 million worldwide gross, which easily put it in line for a sequel. Kristen was supposed to star in the follow up with Rupert Sanders returning as director.
But the two were caught up in a cheating scandal that began during filming. It spilled over into the summer of 2012 until they were exposed by a tabloid photographer.
The affair cost Stewart her relationship with “Twilight” co-star Robert Pattinson and ended Sanders’ 12-year marriage to UK model Liberty Ross.
Stewart was 22 at the time while Sanders, at 41, was almost twice her age. During filming they engaged in what’s known as a “locationship.”
Such relationships have sparked tabloid headlines, but they are usually between actors on set. When a director is involved with an actor it’s a different matter.
Stewart’s cheating scandal blew up in tabloid headlines, dogged her for the best part of two years and did untold damage to her career.
Sanders was branded a cad and sexual manipulator. His career took a hit as well.
Both were bounced from the Snow White sequel.
Stewart was eventually able to rebuild her career through film work overseas and as a fashion and style icon.
She came out as a lesbian a few years later and has been openly gay.
She’s dating screenwriter Dylan Meyer and has dated actor Michael Angarano (2005-2009) and Robert Pattinson (2009-2013). She had her first openly gay relationship with Alicia Cargile (2015-2016), and singer Soko (2015-2016).
She’s had a slew of other romantic relationships since Pattinson, all with women.
“Titanic” director James Cameron was also scorched by scandal for an affair with ‘Titanic’ actress Suzy Amis just eight months after he’d married actress Linda Hamilton in 1997.
In contrast, Styles’ relationship with Wilde went public to great tabloid fanfare, even though it ended her steady relationship with comedian/actor Jason Sedakis.
Sudeikis, who is also 10-years her senior, was reportedly devastated by the split. They have two children together, Otis, six and daughter Daisy, four.
So far, there has been no blow back for Wilde or Styles that is anywhere close to what Stewart and Sanders went through.
Why the double standard?
As director, Wilde shared that same standard of duty and still hit on the hired help.
Wilde revealed back in December that she axed Shia LaBeouf from the film, “Don’t Worry Darling,” due to poor behavior on the set. Styles took his place.
Did she unfairly axe LaBeouf because of a romantic interest in Styles?
The question certainly has to be raised.
Wilde tapped Styles for the lead role in the film despite his thin acting resume. His only other role in a major feature film was a cameo in the 2016 war epic “Dunkirk.”
Wilde said in an interview that she had a “no assholes policy” on the set, and LaBeouf was being dogged at the time about allegations of sexual abuse.
But the same “asshole” policy could be applied to her. The perception of a conflict of interest is certainly there.
Sanders was in a position of authority and used it to his advantage and so did she.
Yet the double standard appears to come into play simply because Wilde is a woman in authority. But that doesn’t make it right.
Wilde said her “no asseholes” policy put everyone on the same level, apparently excluding herself.
Directing a film, by its nature, is a hierarchical system she noted in an interview.
“[Being a director] “doesn’t mean that I have to constantly remind you of my my position, because I don’t think anyone on a set has ever forgotten who’s in charge. It’s in fact, an incredibly hierarchical system,” she said.
The question is equally pertinent because of the way the #MeToo movement has swept through Hollywood.
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal as some of Hollywood’s biggest names are being accused of sexual harassment and assault.
In many cases, harassment scandals have involved allegations that began on set.
Wilde, who is 36, and Styles, who is 27, would appear to be facing age challenges that could weigh on their relationship down the road.
Their backgrounds are also dissimilar. Wilde grew up in the posh Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., and summered in Ireland.
She attended an exclusive private Georgetown Day School, in Washington, D.C., and an equally exclusive boarding school at Phillips Academy, in Andover, Mass.
Harry attended a public high school until he was 16.
Wilde was previously married when she was 19 to Italian film director Tao Respoli, who is 10 years her senior. They divorced in 2011.
Wilde and Styles, who is better known as a singer, started a “locationship” while filming “Don’t Worry Darling.”
The couple went public with their relationship last month amid glowing tabloid reports.
“They seem very serious and spend all their time together. Olivia is very happy with Harry,” a source told People.
“Olivia and Harry continue to film in Los Angeles. Filming has been tricky because of COVID. They have shut down the set several times for testing and breaks. Olivia is amazing to work with though. She stays calm and very focused despite all the breaks.
“As they spent time together on-and off-set, their friendship quickly turned romantic. Their chemistry was very obvious,” the source said.
“Olivia and Harry created this loving and warm environment. Everyone loved working with them. She takes her work very seriously, but everyone saw it coming.”
Styles, who is British, gained fame as singer with the boy band one direction, before launching a successful solo career.
He landed his first film role, a cameo, in the 2016 war epic “Dunkirk.”
Styles has had a wild and varying dating history. He began dating British TV host Caroline Flack when he was 17. She was 45 at the time.
He briefly dated Taylor Swift later in 2012, which infamously crashed and burned.
His longest relationship from 2017 to 2018, was with French-American model Camille Rowe, 31, who inspired his 2019 album Fine Line.