Harry Styles and Taylor Swift take to the big screen

Acclaimed musicians explore new territory with acting pursuits


Courtesy of Billboard

Taylor Swift and Harry Styles have both made forays into the movie industry.

Emma Shuford, Contributing Writer

Two of the most beloved icons of pop culture have recently taken to the Hollywood scene: Harry Styles and Taylor Swift. The two music icons have recently taken to the big screen in their respective films — Styles stars as Jack Chambers in “Don’t Worry Darling” and Swift as Liz Meekins in “Amsterdam”. As these two musicians enter a new chapter of their careers, their massive fanbases are certainly waiting eagerly in anticipation.

“Don’t Worry Darling”, directed by Styles’ current girlfriend, Olivia Wilde, debuted on the big screen on Sept. 23, 2022. This thriller and horror movie, starring notable actors such as Florence Pugh as Alice Chambers, Chris Pine as Frank and director Olivia Wilde herself as Bunny, made headlines long before ever making its splash on the big screen. 

The film centers around Alice Chambers and her husband Jack, who live in an idyllic town in the desert called Victory. Led by Frank, a group of men drive daily into the desert to work on secret technological advancements while their wives stay at home. Throughout the film, Alice begins to see cracks in Victory and begins to wonder what is really happening in this seemingly perfect town. 

The drama surrounding “Don’t Worry Darling” before the film’s release threatened to significantly dampen the film’s success. Initially, Styles was not even cast in the film, with Shia LaBeouf meant to play Pugh’s husband. It was later revealed that Wilde had fired LaBeouf due to his behavior. His ex-girlfriend, FKA Twigs, also filed a lawsuit against LaBeouf accusing him of sexual and physical assault. In early 2021, Styles and Wilde began dating. Hannah West (26) said, “I am team Florence Pugh because I know the original stuff with Shia LaBeouf. Florence Pugh was uncomfortable with him because of sexual assault charges, but Olivia Wilde still wanted him in the movie. Overall, especially when Harry Styles started, Olivia Wilde did not separate her personal life from her professional life.”

Wilde’s previous film, “Booksmart”, received a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, vastly different from the critics’ response to “Don’t Worry Darling,” which garnered only a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes. Ultimately, though, the film had a $19.2 million launch compared to its $35 million overall production cost — more initial revenue than Warner Bros. expected.

Styles began his acting career with his role as Alex in the critically acclaimed film “Dunkirk” and has since acted as Eros in “Eternals” and Younger Tom in the upcoming film “My Policeman”, which is set to be released on Oct. 21, 2022 — coincidentally also the release date of Swift’s new album. The reviews of Styles’ acting in “Don’t Worry Darling”, however, have been less than favorable thus far. In The Guardian’s film review published on Sept. 24, writer Wendy Ide writes, “Florence Pugh is phenomenal in Olivia Wilde’s beautiful-looking Stepford Wives-like thriller. But the story barely holds together — ditto Harry Styles as the husband.” 

Styles’ role in the film is central to its plot, but his character notably does not appear nearly as often as Pugh’s. Freshman Toni Wade (26) watched the film on its release date, Sept. 23. 

 “I think he had some good points, but at other times I think he was overacted by Florence Pugh, so it made it seem like his acting wasn’t as good,” Wade said of Styles’ acting.

“Amsterdam” is both written and directed by David O. Russell, known for films “Silver Linings Playbook”, “The Fighter” and “American Hustle”. The film will be his first since directing “Joy” in 2015. Swift stars alongside a cast full of celebrated actors — Christian Bale as Burt, Margot Robbie as Valerie, John David Washington as Harold, Anya Taylor-Joy as Libby Voze, Chris Rock as Milton and Robert De Niro as Gil to name a few. The red carpet screening occurred on Sept. 18 at Alice Tully Hall in New York City. Originally set to be released on Nov. 4, 2022, the film will hit theaters on Oct. 7. Wake Forest Swifties will have to decide what to prioritize — midterms or Swift on the big screen. 

The period comedy and drama film was filmed in Los Angeles. According to IMDb, “Set in the 30s, it follows three friends who witness a murder, become suspects themselves and uncover one of the most outrageous plots in American history.” The doctor, attorney and nurse, played respectively by the three main stars Bale, Washington and Robbie, must solve the murder mystery themselves in order to clear their names. Assisted by a varied cast of characters, the film promises a star-studded cast and a wild ride.

Swift plays a supporting role — according to Variety, the daughter of the murdered man who is the center of the film. This film, however, is certainly not the multi-Grammy award-winning artist’s first foray onto the big screen. She previously played Bombalrina in the poorly received “Cats”, Rosemary in “The Giver”, Audrey in “The Lorax” and Felicia in “Valentine’s Day”.

Styles and Swift are both highly celebrated singer-songwriters. Styles began as a solo contestant on “The X Factor” before joining the beloved boy band One Direction. He has since been known for his solo music career and fashion, becoming the first man to appear alone on Vogue’s cover. Swift similarly has had a rollercoaster of a ride through fame. The youngest artist to ever win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, Swift has proved her musical and writing talents time and time again. 

Freshman Catie Oakley, a Taylor Swift fan, also saw Styles’ film on its release date.

“I think that it is definitely interesting that they are moving into acting from music,” Oakley said. “It makes me wonder if they would be chosen for the roles if they weren’t already famous. I feel like having A-list celebrities in movies generally helps to generate attention, but, as I saw in ‘Don’t Worry Darling’, the movie could be mediocre due to the lack of experience in the acting field from these celebrities.” 

While Styles and Swift may not yet possess the talent of film industry legends like Robert De Niro and Margot Robbie, their growing presence on the Hollywood screen is not surprising for these two ambitious and talented pop culture icons.