We’ve thought for a while that English actress Florence Pugh was one to watch and now that she’s an Oscar-nominated actress, it seems all eyes are definitely on her. We can’t say we’re shocked. Pugh broke out in a big way in 2018 thanks to playing the title role in the AMC miniseries The Little Drummer Girl, an adaptation of John le Carré‘s 1983 spy novel. She played Charlie, an actress who is recruited into the world of espionage by Israeli spy Martin Kurtz (Michael Shannon). If you missed it the first time around, you can watch The Little Drummer Girl now on AMC Premiere.
And, from there… the stage was set. The Little Drummer Girl provided a platform for this young actress to step into a global spotlight, which she did, armed with smart decisions. She is now on the road to the 2020 Oscars, nominated for her role as the headstrong Amy March in Greta Gerwig‘s Little Women. But, how did she get here?
She does her research:
Pugh isn’t one to sign onto a project willy-nilly. Going into The Little Drummer Girl, she knew her stuff. In the above interview, she talks about what drew her into the project, commenting on le Carré’s writing, saying, “Something that I love. And something that I think, is kind of then transformed really well onto screen, is that it doesn’t dumb down the audience. And I know that is such a simple thing, but I think we’re so used to being spoon fed now, whether it’s in books or on podcasts or on TV, that actually it’s really refreshing having something show you and not waiting for you to catch up. And I think that’s a really amazing way of storytelling, because I think his books are complicated.” She’s not just well-prepared, she’s clearly a thinker.
She avoids the obvious:
With The Little Drummer Girl being such a success and marking her breakthrough into the U.S., what does one do next? Pugh could’ve gone a number of routes, but instead went the unexpected, taking the lead in the family biopic Fighting with My Family. The biopic tells the story of a British wrestler and his children who follow in his footsteps, with the kids’ growing up dreaming of one day being a part of the WWE. Pugh takes on the role of Saraya “Paige” Bevis, who she met for the first time in the above clip. Fighting with My Family casting director Shaheen Baig talked to The New York Times about her first impression of Pugh, saying, “It’s rare that you find someone at that age who is so comfortable in her own skin. There’s no fear or vanity; it doesn’t matter what you throw at her.”
She understands her characters:
It’s one thing to play a role and another thing to embrace the character. In a conversation with W Magazine, she describes some of her recent roles and why they drew her in, saying Katherine in Lady Macbeth, “kicks back; she fights back.” Pugh describes Little Women‘s Amy March as “a headstrong, passionate girl. She’s quite a modern girl, back then.” Going back to 2018, she played Elizabeth de Burgh in Outlaw King. Pugh noticed that this character had been “written down as an add-on in history.” But, she didn’t agree with Elizabeth being secondary, and she told W, “What was so amazing about doing this role was finally saying, ‘Whoa, hang on a second, this lady was incredible.’” She doesn’t just understand the women she plays, but is a champion of theirs.
After completing Fighting with My Family, she starred in writer-director Zach Braff‘s short film In the Time It Takes to Get There. The quirky comedy revolves around 19th century influencers. Braff posted a call to action, asking for movie poster submissions and from there, he wrote the script. While an inventive way to go about moviemaking, it could be risky. Even so, Pugh was all in. As the expression goes, “There are no small roles, just small actors.” You can watch the 11-minute movie in the player above.
She follows her gut:
In the summer of 2019, Pugh starred in the mystery-horror Midsommar. Her character Dani, who is grieving a recent loss, joins her boyfriend (Jack Reynor) and his pals on a trip to Sweden. They come across a village hosting a mid-summer festival, that consists of ceremonies and dressing up. But things turn a little suspect when she and her friends are offered a “special drink.” Midsommar writer-director Ari Aster talked about Pugh’s range, saying, “For someone who is not classically trained, she has formidable instincts. I think she can play anything.” We think so, too.
She sticks to her convictions:
As mentioned in the intro above, Pugh has been nominated for an Oscar for her role as Amy March in the latest adaptation of Louisa May Alcott‘s Little Women. In some versions of the retelling of Little Women, Amy has been presented as a villain or just plain unlikable. Not this time. Pugh wasn’t having it, saying in the above interview with SXM, “I should say, I was given a very special opportunity, which was to, I suppose, give Amy a completely different image. She’s a character who has been misunderstood… for a long time. When I got the job, I remember people saying, ‘You play the one that I hate!'” Pugh acknowledges Amy’s story may not be as interesting as Jo’s, with Jo being independent and a writer, but it’s still just as important.
She knows what it takes:
Pugh took part in a Google Q&A and she was given a whole bunch of Qs, like, “How do you pronounce Pugh?” The answer: it’s like, Hugh, but with a “P.” But, the exchange that stood out to us most was when she was asked, “What skills does an actor need?” The answer to that can really run the gamut, but she nailed it. Pugh responded, saying, “One of the biggest ones is that an actor needs to be able to listen. They need to be able to let other people have their voices heard. They also need to know when to speak up. And, they need to be able to be open and scared and ready to create, I suppose, and you can’t do that if you’re standoffish, or, I suppose, in any way selfish. So, yeah, those are the skills. A few of them. There’s probably many more, but I haven’t got a notepad.” You know what, that’s plenty. And really, these skills can be put to use in many areas of life, we might take a page out of her notepad.
She’s unabashedly humble:
While Pugh was named a Breakthrough Entertainer of 2019 by The Associated Press, she insists that she goes unnoticed. When talking to the AP about the acclaim, she said, “No one knows who I am. I don’t really get recognized at all. I’ve actually had conversations with people where they’ve been speaking about a film that I was in. And I’m like, ‘Oh, really? You thought that? Great.’” She’s just that good. She plays her roles so convincingly, that people don’t recognize her out of character. We will say, she’s no wall flower when acting herself, as seen above at an L.A. deli.
She’s just delightful:
It goes unsaid, acting is a lot of work. And an actor deserves some time off. And a chance to indulge. In the above, Pugh has a sit-down with Vogue magazine and what do they do? Eat! She goes through 11 English dishes and she’s just so fun and funny about it. Don’t know what a Scotch egg is? Oh, she’ll walk you through it. As heard in the above, Pugh exclaims, “Is that the biggest Scotch egg I’ve ever seeeeeen??” She’s one of those people you just want to be around. And, that does come up when considering an actor for a role.
She gets it:
Did we mention she’s been nominated for a 2020 Oscar? We did! Okay, one more time. On the day the announcements were made, she talked with E! News about how she learned about her nomination. She didn’t actually wake up to watch the Oscar nominations, as she felt it was putting a lot of pressure on herself. But, when she got an early morning phone call… she knew. And, she was shocked. She says in the above interview, she thought to herself, “This is iiiiiit.” And, she wasn’t shy to share that moment with her fans via Instagram.
She’s just getting started:
2019 was such a big year for Pugh and we’re excited to see what the future brings. In 2020, we can look for her in Marvel’s Black Widow, opposite Scarlett Johansson. Pugh takes on the role of Yelena Belova, little sister and partner to Johansson’s title character. That’s the last official casting for the time being, but going beyond what’s been confirmed, Pugh has some ideas of her own, which she shared with The Associated Press: “I’ve always said I wanted to do a Western. Like, I really, really, really want to be a gritty, greasy toothed, kind of hairy woman with a wax linen skirt that crunches when she gets on the horse. And I would love to play a drug lord as well, yeah. So there you go everyone. A Western and a drug lord. Sort it out.” Sign. Us. Up.
As we all know, there is no exact formula for success, or everyone would follow it. But, with that said, we’re liking Pugh’s non-formula and she just does what works for her. And, it seems to be working.
We look forward to more from this young talent and catching up with her in Little Drummer Girl, over at AMC Premiere.
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