Florence Pugh on the Physicality of Acting and How She Found the “Tremendous Amount of Grief” for Her Role in ‘Midsommar’


“I love getting dirty and I love getting cold. It only helps your performance, anything that’s physical. I can’t stand faking things.” – Florence Pugh

Oscar-nominated actress Florence Pugh has made quite an impact recently with acclaimed performances in recent films like Fighting with My Family, Midsommar, and Little Women. However, Pugh actually began acting at a very young age, giving the young actress nearly twenty-years experience as an actress. In a lengthy interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Pugh discussed her career, including why she enjoyed being submerged in a tank of freezing water for Little Women and what she learned about acting from her mother, who was a professional dancer.

Regarding a scene in Little Women which required Pugh to fall through the ice while skating into a freezing tank of water, Pugh remarks that she actually enjoys the physicality required by scenes like that. She says, “I love getting dirty and I love getting cold. It only helps your performance, anything that’s physical. I can’t stand faking things. I love being able to do stuff. Being able is so important. When someone comes up to you and says, ‘Hey, can we shoot you getting out of a water tank 15 times while still wearing wet clothes?’ you can go, ‘Yeah, I can do that. I can do that, because I’m able and I’m strong.'”

On the hand, Pugh finds engaging herself in the emotional aspect of a role more challenging, and she uses her character in Midsommar as an example of how she found the emotional core of the character. She explains, “When I read Midsommar, the whole point of Dani is that she’s suffering with this tremendous amount of grief and anxiety, and I have never come close to any grief like that at all. So, when I was reading it, as exciting as the script looked, I was very aware that I would have to be in pain like she was. The only way that I got myself there, to get that grunt and that emptiness, was just imagining every single person in my family in a coffin. I’m sure lots of people can do it other ways, but I had to put myself through it. I don’t think I’ll be doing it again anytime soon. I definitely left that job feeling a little bit sad.”

Pugh credits her professionalism from coming from her mother, who was a professional dancer. When Pugh was cast in a play at a very young age, her mom lectured her about not memorizing her lines. Pugh recalls, “She sat me down, and she was like, ‘I know you’re only 7, and I know this is your first play, but when you do a play, you’re committing to something. When you go onstage, you know what your lines are. And you are essentially giving yourself to a performance. So, don’t be sloppy.’ It wasn’t in any way harsh or mean. She was just saying, as a performer, if you’re saying that you’re going to be this part, you’re making people rely on you, and you have to take it seriously. That has stuck with me my entire life.”

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