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Florence Pugh Nails Why Her Characters Are So Fascinating to Fans

Florence Pugh as Amy March in Little Women

Florence Pugh is the kind of actress who gravitates towards characters who are either at their breaking points or strong enough in their own mindset that they are willing to fight back against those who are trying to stop them. We’ve seen it time and time again in her work, and it is frankly why I love her characters so much. And it seems as if Pugh understands that.

In a fascinating interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Pugh took a deep dive into her career, the public perception of her and her former relationship to Zach Braff, and even the new design she’s doing for her kitchen in London so she can do more Cooking With Flo videos.

But she also shared a thought on the characters she portrays, and it really drives home why Pugh has continued to bring fans work that we can connect with. “All of my movies have that element of women being forced into a corner, forced into an opinion, forced into a way of life, and then finally, something cracks.”

She also went on to talk about how that relates to Alice in Don’t Worry Darling, her latest film heading to theaters this September, from director Olivia Wilde, starring Pugh, Harry Styles, and Chris Pine. She said “It was a different beast,” but also went on to point out how she loves playing these kinds of characters. “I love playing a distressed woman.”

So, let’s talk a bit about some of Pugh’s iconic work and this idea she has for her characters and why it she nails it on the head.

Dani in Midsommar

Florence Pugh as Dani in Midsommer walking towards Sweden
(A24)

Midsommar was directed by Ari Aster and brought us into the world of Dani and her relationship with Christian (Jack Reynor). When Dani is clearly struggling with her mental health, Christian is being convinced by his friends to break up with her, but he doesn’t and instead just continues to complain about her struggles to his friends. But when it is brought up within their friend group to go back to one of their hometowns in Sweden for the famed midsummer festival, things start to shift for Dani, Christian, and their friend group.

It’s twisted, dark, and a movie that had many men angry with how they were depicted in Dani’s struggle, and while it isn’t a movie for everyone, it is one that made me want to reach through the screen and save her. I loved this character who clearly needed a support system, and I loved her way of finding one.

Amy in Little Women

Florence Pugh as Amy March in Little Women
(Sony Pictures Releasing)

Now, Amy March is a bit different because she’s not mentally distressed or a woman who is under her means. She’s, for the most part, free to follow her dreams in a way that her sister Jo (Saoirse Ronan) is not. But she’s oppressed given the time period, and the moments when Amy stands up for herself make her easily the character that I, personally, relate to the most in Little Women.

There’s a scene when Amy is upset and talking with Laurie (Timothée Chalamet), and she’s talking about her own feelings and says, “I want to be great or nothing.”

This scene works so well because it shows the façade of Amy March breaking. She thinks about her sister’s life and writing career in New York and constantly compares herself to it, and despite being at a famed art school and clearly having talent, she’s ready to give it up for the fact that she doesn’t feel good enough or like a genius as the rest of her family does. It’s why I love her so much, because she is the embodiment of imposter syndrome to me especially, as she’s the youngest sister. I am Amy March always, and Florence Pugh’s performance in Little Women really drove home, for me at least, why.

Paige in Fighting With My Family

Florence Pugh as Paige looking up in Fighting With My Family
(MGM)

While Pugh pointed out her characters are distressed, they also tend to be the younger sister. With the exception of Midsommar (where she is a year older than her sister), all the characters I’m writing about are younger sisters, and maybe that explains why I personally relate to them all in some way. They’re all women proving themselves not only in the world at large, but within their family, as well. And with Paige in Fighting With My Family, that is very much the case.

Paige is a real life wrestler, and the story is her journey to the WWE, through auditioning and leaving her life in England (and her brother and his dreams) behind. The film is about Paige fighting to remain unique, be the wrestler she knows herself to be, and also mend the relationship broken because her brother is jealous of his little sister succeeding over him. It’s relatable and brilliant, and Pugh shines in it in a way that I think really cements just how good she is.

Yelena in Black Widow

Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova talking with a beer in Black Widow
(Marvel Entertainment)

Yelena is, outside of Dani, the most distressed out of these characters, but also the most confident in her ability to brush off her own feelings to get the job done. We met her in Black Widow, and while a lot of her pain came from the return of her big sister Natasha and their unresolved pain, it also was a great look into her character and the trauma she has caused by the Red Room. Hidden behind her smart-ass responses or her fighting style, it’s all still there behind Yelena’s eyes, and I’m fascinated to see just how far she’s going to be pushed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before she breaks, given her reaction to Val by the end of the movie.

Yelena is, for me at least, the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that I truly do relate to because she’s just the younger sister no one seems to listen to, and then when she finally snaps and cries in her own pain, they realize she’s upset, but not before, and it’s something I think many younger siblings can relate to and understand. Pair that with her pain from what was done to her and her fight now for Val and whatever is happening with (presumably) the Thunderbolts, and Yelena has a lot on her plate.

Florence Pugh is one of our best actresses out there, and it’s for a reason: She so completely understands her characters and the draw to them, and she continues to be the actress I am most excited to watch.

(featured image: Sony Pictures Releasing)

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Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast.