Florence Pugh: ‘I Definitely Abused My Own Self’ for ‘Midsommar’ and ‘Put Myself in Really S—ty Situations’

Florence Pugh said during a recent interview on the “Off Menu” podcast that she “most definitely” abused herself to get into character for “Midsommar.” The Ari Aster-directed horror movie starred Pugh as Dani, a grieving American psychology student who psychologically breaks down when she joins her toxic boyfriend on a trip to Sweden’s midsummer festival.

“When I did it, I was so wrapped up in her and I’ve never had this ever before with any of my characters,” Pugh told podcast hosts James Acaster and Ed Gamble. “I’d never played someone that was in that much pain before, and I would put myself in really shitty situations that maybe other actors don’t need to do but I would just be imagining the worst things.”

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Pugh continued, “Each day the content would be getting more weird and harder to do. I was putting things in my head that were getting worse and more bleak. I think by the end I probably, most definitely abused my own self in order to get that performance.”

After “Midsommar” wrapped, Pugh traveled immediately to the Boston set of Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women.” The Oscar nominee was overcome with emotion during the switch between movies.

“I remember looking [out the plane] and feeling immense guilt because I felt like I’d left [Dani] in that field in that [emotional] state,” Pugh said. “It’s so weird. I’ve never had that before…Obviously, that’s probably a psychological thing where I felt immense guilt of what I’d put myself through but I definitely felt like I’d left her there in that field to be abused…almost like I’d created this person and then I just left her there to go and do another movie.”

Any abuse that Pugh suffered during the making of “Midsommar” was strictly self-inflicted. She has nothing but praise for director Ari Aster, recently telling The New York Times he’s “peculiar in a mad genius kind of a way” and “a stand-up comedian at heart.” She added, “Once you laugh at one thing, he will try and make you laugh at all the other things. He’ll keep going and everybody will be crying in fits of laughter.”

“We were shooting in a very hot field with three different languages, so I wouldn’t say that all of it was pleasurable,” Pugh continued about making the movie. “Also, it shouldn’t be. Why would making a movie like that be pleasurable?”

“Midsommar” earned rave reviews for Pugh’s performance and grossed just under $50 million at the worldwide box office. Aster is returning to theaters soon with his Joaquin Phoenix-starring “Beau Is Afraid,” opening April 21.

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