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Florence Pugh Was Worried About The Comedy Of Fighting With My Family

2019 was the year of Florence Pugh, even if we didn't know it at the time. Her visceral portrayal of Dani Ardor in "Midsommar" was a performance best, and the actor followed it up with iconic Amy March in "Little Women." Both films became career-defining moments for the up-and-coming actor. But if there was one thing that worried Pugh, it wasn't watching her boyfriend burn to death while stuffed inside a bear. It was a little-known comedy that came out in the same year.

"Fighting With My Family" is a far cry from self-serious sports movies. The film is a humorous look at Saraya "Paige" Bevis's journey from humble beginnings to a renowned female wrestler. Taking her ring name from one of the titular witches from "Charmed," humor was a draw for the film. But even under the tutelage of English comedian, Stephen Merchant, Pugh was uncomfortable at the prospect.

"I remember when I got this job, getting worried and complaining to my friends that I wasn't funny," she told Entertainment Weekly in 2019. "They were like, 'Dude, you're literally doing the film with the king of comedy, I think you're fine.'" Sure enough, Merchant helped Pugh adapt to comedy, disproving her fears immediately. She continued: "He's such a fascinating guy to work with because he's so intelligent and he's really good at taking the piss out of you, so you get really good at taking the piss out of him as well."

Wrestling also provided a challenge

"Fighting With My Family" had many challenges for Florence Pugh when she signed on. In any film based on fact, actors must contend with the real people they portray — especially if they're still living. The real-life Paige ultimately commended Pugh's performance, but the latter had more to worry about than that. 

Director Stephen Merchant wanted the actors to do as much of their own stunts as possible, requiring Pugh to learn wrestling choreography. This was no easy task, but she had one of the greats to look up to. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson served as a producer on the film, as well as appearing as himself. Thanks to his guidance, Pugh was put at ease. "He was so helpful with sculpting the wrestling side of it," she remarked. "I take my hat off to him for trusting me as a non-wrestler entering this wrestling world, and I also thank him hugely for being patient and completely helping me along the way." 

Pugh also considered it crucial to please the most important people: fans, and the wrestlers themselves. Fans, especially pro wrestling fans, are among some of the most impassioned people in the world, and the "Black Widow" actor knew she had a lot to live up to. "Ultimately, we're doing a sport that people live and die by, and you don't want to not do it justice. But you know, it's been so satisfying to read and hear the support and wonderful feedback from actual wrestlers and fans, and allow myself to enjoy it."