Florence Pugh is both a huge star and an outspoken advocate for herself and women in the entertainment industry. That backbone was hard won, apparently, because when she first entered the acting profession, she faced massive pressure and unsolicited advice about the direction of her career and the shape of her body.
In a new interview with The Telegraph, The Wonder actress said that after her debut opposite Maisie Williams in the Carol Morley drama The Falling, she landed a role in a television pilot playing a rising pop star. She said she “felt very lucky and grateful” and couldn’t believe that she got this “top-of-the-game job.”
Then she was told she’d need to entirely change her look for the show.
“All the things that they were trying to change about me—whether it was my weight, my look, the shape of my face, the shape of my eyebrows—that was so not what I wanted to do, or the industry I wanted to work in,” Pugh said. “I’d thought the film business would be like [my experience of making] The Falling, but actually, this was what the top of the game looked like, and I felt I’d made a massive mistake.”
The pilot wasn’t picked up, which, in retrospect, was probably a good thing for Pugh. Feeling dejected, she returned to England believing her career was stagnating and with a lack of enthusiasm for the business.
“Then two weeks later, I had an audition for Lady Macbeth,” she said. “And that made me fall back in love with cinema—the kind of cinema that was a space where you could be opinionated, and loud, and I’ve stuck by that. I think it’s far too easy for people in this industry to push you left and right. And I was lucky enough to discover when I was 19 what kind of a performer I wanted to be.”
After Pugh’s role in Lady Macbeth, she made her highly meme-able appearance in 2019’s Midsommar and then as the petulant Amy in Little Women.
“I guess all of my movies have that element of women being forced into a corner, forced into an opinion, forced into a way of life,” Pugh reflected. “And then finally, something cracks.... I love playing a distressed woman.”
Probably because in real life, she’s a very confident one.