Harry Styles jokes he went to Venice to spit on Chris Pine

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Harry Styles has broken his silence on the viral video footage at the Venice Film Festival earlier this week which captured the pop star allegedly spitting on his Don’t Worry Darling co-star Chris Pine.

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The former One Direction singer, who is in the midst of a 15-night residency in New York City, returned to the stage Wednesday night and addressed the speculation that he may have spat a loogie at Pine during the film’s premiere screening on Monday.

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“This is our 10th show at Madison Square Garden. It’s wonderful, wonderful, wonderful to be back in New York. I just popped very quickly to Venice to spit on Chris Pine,” Styles says in video footage shared by fans. “But fret not, we’re back!”

In the viral footage making the rounds on social media, Styles, 28, was captured making his way to an empty seat next to Pine. After the Late Night Talking singer seemingly spat at the 42-year-old Star Trek actor, Pine stopped clapping and gazed down at his lap before breaking out in a smirk and laughing to himself. Neither Styles nor Pine made any eye contact during the interaction.

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Internet sleuths were quick to deduce that Styles’ alleged action is evidence of lingering tension between the actors.

“Literally the whole cast is beefing what is going on???” one person questioned, with another remarking, “Look at Chris’s face he definitely spit on him.”

Several other Twitter detectives zeroed in on Pine’s reaction to the alleged loogie.

“That look Chris gave him read as ‘I can’t believe this kid just did that’ to me,” one person wrote, while another added, The level of self control Chris Pine has is INSANE but he also probably kept in mind that they were filmed.”

A frame-by-frame breakdown was proof, one user wrote, that Styles “definitely spit something.”

“You can even tell by Chris’s reaction.”

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But Pine’s rep called the viral story “ridiculous” in a statement to PEOPLE.

“This is a ridiculous story — a complete fabrication and the result of an odd online illusion that is clearly deceiving and allows for foolish speculation. Just to be clear, Harry Styles did not spit on Chris Pine. There is nothing but respect between these two men and any suggestion otherwise is a blatant attempt to create drama that simply does not exist.”

A source close to the Venice Film Festival confirmed to Variety that there was no tension between the actors during the premiere and that there was no talk of any spitting during the premiere.

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And while the majority of the Twitterverse were ready to convict Styles of spitting on Pine, not everyone was convinced.

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“I don’t see any spitting literally this video doesn’t show anything except the massive tension between them,” one private eye tweeted.

A slowed down video was proof to one follower that the singer was “INNOCENT” as it showed nothing exiting Styles’ mouth.

Chris Pine just wondered where his sunglasses were after the applause,” another person explained. “And he zoned out (like he’s been doing all day) and realized it’s in his lap. So I am sorry to say Harry Styles did not spit on him.”

Prior to “spit-gate,” drama seekers had already started to plant seeds of dissension between Pine and Styles when they posted videos of the Wonder Woman star drifting off while the Music for a Sushi Restaurant hitmaker answered questions during an interview earlier the same day.

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“You know my favourite thing about the movie? It feels like a movie,” Styles starts to say as Pine’s eyes seem to glaze over. “It feels like a real go-to-the-theatre movie.”

A self-proclaimed Pine scholar assessed Pine’s reaction to Styles’ rambling answer, writing, “I’ve been a diehard Chris Pine fan for nearly 20 years now so I consider myself something of an expert, and I can confidently say he is reconsidering all his life choices here… literally dissociating from his surroundings.”

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The phony feud follows earlier reports that Olivia Wilde has fallen out with Don’t Worry Darling’s leading lady Florence Pugh.

Her lack of promotional push for the film was blamed on her production schedule for Dune 2, which she is currently filming in Budapest.

“Florence is a force and we are so grateful that she is able to make it tonight despite being in production in Dune. I cannot say enough how honoured I am to have her as my lead,” the film’s director Wilde said, trying to quell talk of a rift.

“As for all the endless tabloid gossip and all the noise out there. The internet feeds itself. I don’t feel the need to contribute. I feel it is sufficiently well nourished.”

Styles will be in Toronto later this week for the TIFF premiere of My Policeman, a decades-spanning romantic drama in which he plays a closeted copper.

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