Dear Florence (Pugh)

Florence Pugh for The Sunday Times Style

TheTimesIf you don’t know Pugh already, it’s odd — not just because she’s now a bona fide star, but because she scorches up the screen in whatever she appears in. Many, for instance, will remember Midsommar, the eerie folk-tinged horror set in a Scandi commune where, as the anointed May Queen (essentially clad in a giant floral doily), her character, Dani, saw her sanity go up in flames. Others will love her performance in Fighting with My Family, playing the real-life wrestler Paige, while some might prefer a turn of a different kind — she spent much of lockdown serving up cooking videos to her Instagram Live audience. But for me it’s her Amy in Little Women, where she made the youngest March sister truly loveable as opposed to the standard stamping little brat. “I won’t do it,” she tells Timothée Chalamet’s Laurie firmly, scolding him for playing with her emotions. “Not when I’ve spent my entire life loving you.

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[…] She got her big break, while still at private school in Oxford, after attending an open audition for The Falling, an intriguing movie by the British indie auteur Carol Morley. It immediately put her on the map. “I’m so lucky that it was a real film,” she says, and by “real” she means “good”. Her next job, though, showed her a whole other world. Pugh got a part in a pilot in LA, Studio City, and she was promptly told to lose weight, wax her eyebrows and do something that was “so un-me” she groans now. “I was a baby and I thought that was Hollywood,” she says sadly. “And I thought, OK, this is how it works here. This is what they do. And then I felt stupid because I thought, well, of course, how could I come to LA and not have expected to have my weight discussed in a meeting?

Studio City didn’t get picked up, so she returned home, shaken, and decided to focus on more interesting indies, with obvious success. All of which leads, several years later, to Black Widow. Is this her returning to Hollywood proper on her own terms? “I mean … sure!” she cackles.

Though Pugh is aware some might think it a leftfield choice, to her it made complete sense, not least because of the film’s feminist agenda. “It’s for all women,” she promises me. “It’s not just about women being powerful and strong, it’s all about women needing to carry on and survive.” In the movie she plays Yelena, a sister figure to Johansson’s Black Widow, and to say they have issues would be an understatement: “Many of our emotional scenes are in the middle of combat.” As a “very physical person” she loved the training and the preparation and did as many of the fight scenes as she could. “After having done Fighting with My Family I loved getting beaten up,” she says happily. And if Black Widow is an expensive Tinseltown juggernaut, she insists she felt no pressure to conform this time.

It was up to me,” she says. “If I wanted to get fit, great. If I didn’t, great. How hard I wanted to go was up to me, and how I wanted to look was up to me.” She says she even had input on the suits. “I didn’t want Yelena to step into, I suppose, the old silhouette of a woman fighting.” She starts to trace something hourglassy in the air, but stops herself. “I wanted her to be in clothes she could move in.

Lockdown gave Pugh an opportunity to pause but the results surprised her. “I realised that I was having a tough time with anxiety and I’d never had that before,” she says. “Usually I’m always on the go, I’m always moving. And when all of that was quiet and still, I was really surprised to see, or feel, that I still had a crazy amount of adrenaline running through my veins.” When I ask why, she looks more downcast. “Well, I don’t think it helped that we were going through a lot.” The “we” is her and Braff. “One of our best friends was dying of Covid” — she means their friend the Broadway actor Nick Cordero, who died of the virus last July, and whose wife and one-year-old son lived in Braff’s guest house while he was being treated in hospital. “So that obviously added a lot of emotions to the cocktail.” But she thinks it was also a broader, more existential thing: “I don’t have anxiety when I’m on a job, because I feel like I’m in the right place — this is the thing I’m supposed to be doing.

(read the full article at the source)

Marvel Studios’ “Black Widow” Press Tour

The Marvel Studios’ “Black Widow” is now in full swing in London! Florence has stepped out on several occasions to promote the films, blessing us with more new photos than we’ve had since this whole pandemic started. She has been photographed by Guy Gooch, Holly Whitaker and Joy Yamusangie. Please do enjoy the pictures in the gallery, but stay tuned as more are likely to be added soon!

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Florence Pugh & Scarlett Johansson for Marie Claire (Winter 2020)

Marie Claire – […] The release of Black Widow, the sure-shot blockbuster starring Johansson and the magnetic Marvel newcomer Florence Pugh and directed by Cate Shortland—three power women collaborating on a power-women film, asserting their ascendance—was being delayed. It was deflating news, Johansson recalls, though not out of the blue.

[…] We’re on a conference call, because that’s what you do these days—no lunch. That or Zoom, which we did a few weeks ago. Pugh, 24, is with us on the line. Also resigned, also pragmatic. She had just flown from London back to L.A., where she lives, when she got the call. “I think I probably had a hunch,” she says. “It seemed to me all the fun of summer, and everybody being outside and finally having some relaxed rules, caught up with everyone, obviously, because of the virus. I’m sad that people don’t get to watch it for another half year, but I wasn’t majorly upset because it’s important to look after people right now.

[…] There will be grand box-office expectations for Black Widow, COVID or not; let us not forget that Avengers: Endgame, the last Marvel film in which Johansson appeared, grossed $2.79 billion at the box office, making it the highest-grossing film of all time—not to mention the onus to make something that inspires and empowers girls and women. And it’s quite possible that no one knows the feeling of lofty forecasts better than the star who kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“I really want to recognize the women I play, whether it’s that I recognize my mom in her, or my gran in her, or my sister in her. I want to play complex and confusing characters.”

(read the full article at the source)

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Florence Pugh Covers ELLE UK (June 2020)

ELLE UK – Florence Pugh is having a moment of intense pleasure. Slowly, elegantly, with the tantalising precision of Nigella Lawson, she slices into a glistening ball of burrata. ‘Oh my god! Did you see that…’ It sits in front of her, drizzled in pesto; its contents oozing onto the plate. ‘It was quite sexual, wasn’t it?’ she says. There’s a pause. ‘Don’t tell everyone I said popping cheese was quite sexual.

But eating lunch with Florence Pugh is a sensual experience. Maybe it has something to do with our afternoon being filled with eyebrow-raising innuendo (hers, not mine), or the fact that Pugh’s laugh – a full-bellied growl (she calls it her ‘dinosaur laugh’) – bounces across the restaurant every few minutes. Or perhaps it’s just that Pugh is one of the great sensual artists – someone unfettered by PR fluff; possessing prodigious appetite, bountiful opinion and a rare openness that makes everyone who meets her want to luxuriate in her company.

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[…] The restricted living conditions have also been a moment of self-reflection: ‘I was so surprised by how unkind I am to myself! Living in lockdown I found there’s no point or energy in being annoyed at yourself for not reading that book, writing that song or working out that day. I’m teaching myself to find joy as much as I can and ease in these open long days.‘ This means also staying away from Zoom: ‘I’m not in any way tech savvy…I did a live virtual play, In Our Youth a few weeks back and as I was logging in I got the meeting ID number wrong and entered a strangers meeting that THANKFULLY wasn’t starting for another 30 minutes!

When Pugh was a 17-year-old at private school in Oxford, she auditioned for Carol Morley’s film The Falling, about a group of girls who mysteriously keep fainting. Pugh, who excelled in the arts but was never academic, got a main role opposite Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams, who was then still relatively unknown. Despite never attending drama school, it was a star turn from Pugh, who played a promiscuous teenager bewitching all who met her.

During filming, Morley didn’t let the girls watch themselves back on the monitor: ‘I think she didn’t want us to act for vanity, or to know what we didn’t like about ourselves on screen,’ says Pugh. ‘She wanted to keep us as naïve as possible.’ This style of direction has no doubt helped as Pugh’s career has taken off. ‘I’ve never been bothered by the odd things that happen on camera, maybe because of that. I don’t mind my double chins, that’s not the acting part to me.

Earlier this year, Pugh was Oscar-nominated for Best Supporting Actress, following her role as Amy March alongside Saoirse Ronan and Emma Watson in Little Women. Greta Gerwig, the film’s director, tells me that Pugh brought her familiar and playful energy to set every day: ‘She instinctively knows how to be in a big family group. She was always the first one in the play-fight, the first one telling a joke, starting a giggle-fest, eating the prop cakes. She had that bubbling-over energy of sisterhood.

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