By Katie Hind




dmg media (UK)


IT WAS the kiss that has become the talk of the showbiz world – on both sides of the Atlantic. First we discovered a few weeks ago that Harry Styles once smooched with fellow British screen star Florence Pugh – fuelling speculation over his relationship with American actress and film director Olivia Wilde. Now we learn that the former One Direction singer and Ms Wilde have broken up after two years together, and The Mail on Sunday can reveal that this kiss had long been a ‘tricky issue’ between the pair – even though they blame Styles’s tour schedule as the reason for their split. They reportedly agonised for weeks over the decision to break up. Just last Thursday, Wilde was in the audience with her two young children to watch Styles, 28, perform with his band in Los Angeles. Publicly the couple are highlighting how Styles’s tour would have made it almost impossible for them to spend any time together until it finishes in Italy in July next year. Wilde is said to be unable to accompany him because she needs to stay in Los Angeles with her eight-yearold son Otis and daughter Daisy, six, from her nine-year relationship with US film star Jason Sudeikis. She and Styles were also said to be struggling to agree which side of the Atlantic they would make their home. But there were suggestions that other factors were at play, including Styles’s close friendship with his co-star Pugh that culminated in that kiss. It took place after they met on the set of the film Don’t Worry Darling in March 2020. Wilde also starred in and directed the film but the kiss occurred before she and Styles got together. However, it prompted rumours of a feud between her and Pugh that continued after the film’s cameras stopped rolling. Sources close to Styles say that Wilde has been aware of the kiss, and his close friendship with Pugh, and that it has always been an issue in the relationship and a factor behind their decision to call it a day. One told The Mail on Sunday: ‘While the news of the kiss only just emerged, Olivia has known about it and it was addressed but none of that was easy. The three of them were working together and, of course, afterwards Florence then was there to watch Harry and Olivia get together. ‘There were three of them working together day in day out, the director and the two leading characters. ‘The two stars kiss, then one of them gets together with the boss. It’s the stuff of nightmares. ‘Those things can put a lot of pressure on relationships.’ Matters became easier once filming ended but it was noted how Oxfordborn Pugh, 28, pulled out of a number of planned interviews, and skipped both the press conference and the photocall to promote the movie at the Venice Film Festival in September. There was also a conspicuous absence of mentions for the film on her socialmedia accounts. Wilde publicly denied any rift with Pugh, however, saying she had ‘nothing but respect’ for her talent, and called her ‘fantastic’. But whatever the truth, there was no public show of affection on the red carpet in Venice. Pugh hugged her co-stars and posed for selfies with fans and for photographers – but offered no outward display of fondness towards Wilde and Styles. In an awkward group shot as the cast arrived at the premiere at the Sala Grande, Pugh chose to stand away from the happy couple. Afterwards she skipped the dinner, instead jetting off to Budapest where she was filming her latest movie, Dune. News of Styles and Wilde’s split came as a surprise to the couple’s friends who, despite the ten-year age gap between the pair, expected they would remain together for the foreseeable future. When the relationship began in 2020 during the shooting of Don’t Worry Darling, Wilde was still living with Sudeikis. She later insisted that her relationship with the American star was over long before she got together with Styles. In keeping with how publicly their romance was played out, the pair used US showbusiness magazine People to break news of their split – a tactic deployed by many A-listers keen to ‘control the narrative’. Just days before Styles jets off to South America for the next leg of his tour, a source told the publication he and Miss Wilde, 38, are ‘taking a break’ due to having ‘different priorities that are keeping them apart’. The insider added: ‘He’s still touring and is now going abroad. ‘She is focusing on her kids and her work in LA. It’s a very amicable decision. ‘They’re still very close friends. Right now, they have different priorities that are keeping them apart. The public pressure on them has been difficult. ‘They’ve had ups and downs throughout the relationship.’ Another source insisted that there was ‘no bad blood’ between Wilde and Styles, telling American gossip website Page Six: ‘Harry didn’t dump Olivia, or vice versa. This is the longest relationship Harry’s ever had, so clearly they have a special bond. ‘They’re on a break. It’s impossible to have a relationship when he’s in every continent next year and Olivia has her job and her kids. ‘This is the right thing for both of them.’ Those who have been keeping up with the dramas of the Styles and Wilde show might understand why they decided to go to People, a welltrodden path used by the likes of Jennifer Aniston and Jude Law. Meanwhile, we can also reveal that Styles and Wilde were struggling to agree on how they would be able to live on the same side of the Atlantic. Wilde needs to be in Los Angeles with her children so they can be close to their father, with whom she has been embroiled in a difficult custody battle. Styles and Wilde rented a £3million Los Angeles love nest earlier this year as they embarked on a life together prior to finding their perfect ‘forever home’. Situated in the ‘hip and creative’ neighbourhood Los Feliz, it boasts a swimming pool, hot tub and obligatory cinema room. Life was good for the happy couple – they were regularly seen dining with friends, nipping out for coffees together or sharing workouts at the gym. But Styles found it a ‘wrench’ to be away from the North London enclave where he is immersed in a £30million project to convert two 18th Century mansions into a super home. He had hoped they could settle in London but it proved impossible in the end. Styles also misses his mother Anne Twist. The pair are very close, more so since her husband, his step-father Robin, passed away in 2017 following a battle with cancer. He also shares a special bond with his older sister, Gemma. As well as his family ties being severed by the Atlantic, so are many of his friendships. He is said to barely see his one-time bestie, DJ Nick Grimshaw any more. Those close to the situation say Wilde even started taking over his businesses, particularly his lifestyle brand Pleasing, which sells nail varnish, serums, sweatshirts and a wide selection of tote bags. There were other pressures, such as Wilde’s and Sudeikis’s former nanny going public to share details about the breakdown of their relationship. The particulars were so hurtful that the former couple, who have been at each other’s throats since 2020 when Wilde left the family home, came together to release a statement condemning the nanny, describing her claims as ‘false and scurrilous’. They added: ‘Her now 18 month-long campaign of harassing us, as well as loved ones, close friends and colleagues, has reached its unfortunate apex. ‘We will continue to focus on raising and protecting our children with the sincere hope that she will now choose to leave our family alone.’ In one of her claims, the nanny said that Sudeikis ‘went outside and lay under [Miss Wilde’s] car so she wouldn’t leave’. She also described how the actor had been particularly upset because Wilde had left their home to have dinner with Styles taking a salad made with her special dressing. While the episode ended quickly, sources say it also took its toll on her romance with Styles, who as a twentysomething, had previously been living a carefree existence. ‘Harry has always been mature for his age and often had older girlfriends,’ said a friend. ‘But this was a difficult two years for them as a couple, and then you’re faced with hardly being able to see one another for another eight months, none of that is easy.’