How Olivia Wilde met Jason Sudeikis (and why the Harry Styles affair rumors are unfair)

EL PAÍS traces the story of the couple’s relationship, from their first meeting in New York to the custody papers scandal

Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis
Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis in 2018.

Director Olivia Wilde has been doing everything possible to promote her new film Don’t Worry Darling, which has been mired in scandal over offstage dramas – in particular her relationship with male lead Harry Styles.

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, the actress and director made it clear that she was going to let gossip get in the way of the movie.

“No amount of internet bullying can cause me to question my belief in a movie made collectively by so many brilliant people. We worked too hard, and went through too much together, to be derailed by something that really has nothing to do with filmmaking,” she said.

In the interview, Wilde talked at length about her breakup with actor Jason Sudeikis, with whom she has two children, and denied rumors that it was due to her new relationship with Harry Styles.

“The complete horseshit idea that I left Jason for Harry is completely inaccurate,” she said. “Our relationship was over long before I met Harry.”

“Like any relationship that ends, it doesn’t end overnight. Unfortunately, Jason and I had a very bumpy road, and we officially dissolved the relationship towards the beginning of the pandemic,” she added, saying that the two continued to live together through the health crisis for the sake of the children.

In the interview, Wilde said that they finally decided to separate when “cohabitating was no longer beneficial for the children.”

It was the end of a relationship that began in 2011 at an after party for Saturday Night Live, where Sudeikis was a part of the cast. Wilde told Howard Stern Show that the actor walked up to her and said: “You know, whatever you’re looking for, you don’t need it,” and walked away.

Around six months later, Wilde encouraged a common friend to give Sudeikis her number. But to her surprise, he waited a month before contacting her. In a 2017 interview with Stephen Colbert, Sudeikis said he thought she was seeing someone else and didn’t want to bother her. He added that he was busy at the time and decided to contact her once his schedule had cleared. Wilde would later confess that this detached attitude made her feel very insecure, and even doubt whether he was attracted to her.

But when the two did finally meet, they hit it off at once. The couple went to a restaurant in New York and stayed there talking until the early hours of the morning. According to Wilde, he was never overly flirtatious. “He had patience and sincerity and kindness,” she told Marie Claire. Little by little, they became closer and in October 2012, Wilde told USA Today that they were living together.

In January 2013, Wilde announced that they were engaged to be married. And in 2014, she gave birth to their first child, Otis Alexander Sudeikis. But the wedding seemed to have fallen off the agenda. “I don’t feel any pressure to do it. But I think it will be really fun,” she told Glamour magazine in 2014. Two years later, the couple welcomed their second child, Daisy Josephine. And by 2017, although the two had still not tied the knot, it was clear they were a family – complete with an adopted dog named Elvis.

A long silence followed, in which time Wilde made the leap from actress to director, with the movie Bookworm. In 2019, People magazine announced that the couple were separating after nearly eight years together. But they appeared to have ended on good terms: while Wilde was filming Don’t Worry Darling, Sudeikis would often drop by with their children.

At the same time, Wilde’s relationship with pop star Harry Styles was becoming more serious. In January 2021, they were photographed several times together, often holding hands.

A few months later, in July, Sudeikis talked about the breakup in an interview with GQ magazine, describing it as a good learning experience that he hoped to grow from. Based on this interview, no one was expecting what happened next. In April 2022, while presenting Don’t Worry Baby at a ticketed industry event, Wilde was approached on stage by a woman who handed her an envelope. The actress opened it on the spot, joking that perhaps it was a script. After glancing at the contents, she kept going on with her presentation without skipping a beat.

It was soon revealed that the actress had been given legal documents regarding her children’s custody, sent by Sudeikis’s lawyers. Wilde was furious at Sudeikis, but he denied having any prior knowledge of his attorney’s plans – something she didn’t believe. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t that shocked. There’s a reason that I didn’t stay in that relationship,” she told Vanity Fair magazine.

Wilde has been largely blamed for the breakup with Sudeikis. She has been asked to explain the reasons for the separation, why she started a new relationship with Styles and has been unfairly criticized online for being a bad mother, even though she cohabited with Sudeikis during the pandemic for the sake of the children. No one has demanded explanations from Sudeikis, who was spotted with model Keeley Hazell in early 2021 – around the same time, Wilde and Styles were snapped in public.

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