Another week, another high-wattage film festival for Harry Styles. But for those hoping for a repeat of the drama surrounding the Venice launch of Don’t Worry Darling, think again. The Toronto world premiere of his period drama My Policeman went off without any intrigue or controversy. And that was by design, insiders say.
The press opportunities for the Amazon Studios film, which sees the mega pop star play a closeted gay officer exploring forbidden love in 1950s Britain, was limited and highly choreographed, with little chance for stepping on landmines.
At the Sunday night premiere, the film received a warm reception from the audience and a standing ovation. But that was followed by a blink-and-you’d-miss-it Q&A with only three questions asked by the moderator, only one of which Styles fielded in the most benign way possible.
Wearing a dark green jacket and lime-colored pants, Styles addressed how he bonded with co-stars David Dawson and Emma Corrin, both of whom he shared sex scenes.
“I think having a base of a real friendship outside of the characters obviously allows for, you know, kind of the friendship scenes if you will, it doesn’t require much acting,” Styles said from the stage of his many steamy scenes with Dawson. “And then in the kind of more intense scenes, there’s a lot of trust and safety there. So, you know, all of that kind of benefits of thing from just a real connection with who you are with which I thought we’re lucky to have on this project.”
After just six minutes, the Q&A wrapped, with the moderator noting perfunctorily, “Some of you have planes to catch.”
Styles, who is already one of the most closely watched celebrities on the planet, became ensnared in breathless coverage of Don’t Worry Darling, which featured a purported feud between his director girlfriend, Olivia Wilde, and his co-star, Florence Pugh, who has mostly eschewed promoting the film. The drama included an alleged Styles spitting on Pine incident that was quickly debunked when Pine’s publicist said the narrative was “fabricated,” and Styles joked about the incident during a Sept. 7 performance at the Madison Square Garden stop of his Love On Tour. “It is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful to be back here. I just popped very quickly to Venice to spit on Chris Pine,” he quipped.
“No one wanted another disaster like the Don’t Worry Darling situation,” one source involved with My Policeman tells Yostrive.
And it seemed as though there were clear efforts to avoid any potential pitfalls during his Toronto run. Earlier in the day, Styles spoke at greater length about his My Policeman role, which has sparked some backlash for so-called queerbating (In a Yostrive interview, Styles, who is in a relationship with Wilde, shot down the intense scrutiny over how he identifies: “Sometimes people say, ‘You’ve only publicly been with women,’ and I don’t think I’ve publicly been with anyone. If someone takes a picture of you with someone, it doesn’t mean you’re choosing to have a public relationship or something,” he said.) But his press conference answers stayed on a very safe and innocuous path, sticking to the relevance of the themes explored in the film.
“The general themes are incredibly timeless,” Styles said. “I think that’s why the film works so well. The themes of love and freedom and the search for that is incredibly relevant, whatever time you want to set it in.”
In fact, leaving little room for spontaneity, the questions had been submitted and vetted in advance.
As was the case with the press conference, the abbreviated Q&A offered little in the way of controversy that dogged Don’t Worry Darling last week. My Policeman director Michael Grandage stuck to the topic of the film itself. “I was attracted to something that really looked and investigated societal change over that huge period, from the ’50s to the present day,” he said.
The British drama My Policeman offers a departure for Styles, who has appeared in a pair of big-budget tentpoles with Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and the Marvel superhero film Eternals. But even a smaller budget, more intimate film like My Policeman (and Don’t Worry Darling) can bring plenty of press scrutiny — and thus headaches.
“Everyone just wants this film to stand on its own and speak for itself,” said the insider.