If you’ve had access to social media in recent months, you’ve most likely noticed Do not worry dear—or at least the drama that surrounded it since it started production. Olivia Wilde’s follow-up to book smart is one of the most anticipated films of the year, though, increasingly, for no positive reason. The rumors were largely due to the behind-the-scenes mess that had been gossiped and researched for over two years.
I’m not here to ramble on about all the stuff that’s been a nightmare aside from the movies. (I’ve done enough of that). Now that it’s finally in theaters, I’d like to take a moment to talk about it Do not worry dearThe most important player and saving grace: The female lead, the one and only Florence Pugh.
Huge crowds of fans will no doubt flock to theaters to witness pop star-turned-actor Harry Styles in his lead actor debut. On the other hand, I, like a true booth, gracefully carried myself to the nearest multiplex only to see Pugh—or as Wilde called it, Miss Flo—do his damn thing.
Pugh is the strongest element of the film, which centers on a seemingly happy young couple living in a picturesque corporate town circa 1950s when secrets begin to unfold. Everyday AnimalsMarlow Stern praised the actress for being the most redeeming aspect of the messy film, writing that it was “more than anything else, a masterpiece for Pugh.” IndiewireKate Erbland said Pugh was an “unmitigated film highlight,” and collideBrian Formo said that “none of the Dear work completely without a committed performance from Pugh.”
It’s hard to imagine anyone else in Alice’s shoes, though Wilde initially considered playing the role himself in the early stages of the film, with Pugh being approached for a supporting role at first. That’s Pugh’s ultimate strength: He makes each character feel as if they were made especially for him. Do not worry dear entirely dependent on Pugh’s performance, and that’s the only thing keeping him afloat.
While speaking about Pugh’s work on films earlier this year at CinemaCon, Wilde told executives that, with Do not worry dear, viewers will “witness the birth of a full-fledged movie star”. I would strongly argue that the BAFTA-nominated British actress has shown all the perfect star signs since the start of her career.
Those of us familiar with her work and career know that she has definitely been Hollywood’s Next Big Thing since she first graced the silver screen. To say that Do not worry dear is the film that officially marks Pugh’s fame seems uniform and outrageous, considering how many tour de force shows he’s given in the last eight years.
He made his acting debut in 2014 with an upcoming thriller who fell and has starred in a total of 11 feature films since (excluding unreleased ones). In no time, the 26-year-old has quickly established himself as one of the most respected, attractive and sought-after film actors.
That’s with the movie Mrs Macbeth in 2016 Pugh really became a spectacle. Only 19 years old when the film was made, Pugh played Katherine, a young woman who is sold into a loveless marriage to a man twice her age in the 19th century. When her husband goes out of town, she feels her newfound freedom. The film slowly escalates in an ominous way as the extreme lengths he will take to be completely free from his suffocating life become apparent.
Pugh is awesome in his portrayal of the titular character, subtly communicating every emotion using just his empty eyes, whether it’s anger and rage, or fleeting moments of passion and excitement. Anyone who has seen this intense period drama knows that it is impossible to look away from the screen every time he or she is in it.
If Mrs Macbeth serves as our introduction to her abilities as an actress, then Little Drummer Girl established Pugh as a big star. In 2018, he had his first television role starring in an adaptation of John Le Carré’s acclaimed novel. The AMC series flew criminally under the radar, despite having a cast that included Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Shannon and was helmed by South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook. As someone who religiously watches live every week when it airs, I can speak authoritatively about how great—and he—is.
Pugh operates through the six-part series with confidence, playing an actress who pretends to be someone she isn’t after being recruited to investigate a terrorist plot in the 1970s. Little Drummer Girl entirely dependent on the performance of the Pugh complex, and remains one of the greatest shows of its versatility.
The following year was an explosive one for Pugh, with three near-impeccable films ushering in his official reign as the internet’s It Girl and cementing his status as one of the best young working actors. First come Struggle with My Family, a WWE Studios production centered on Saraya-Jade “Paige” Bevis’ journey from being born into a wrestling family to her skyrocketing fame within the company. It’s a fierce, heartwarming future story that doubles as a rare comedy show for Pugh, who seamlessly fills Paige’s shoes and embodies her ambitious physique and demeanor.
Then came his summer domination with Midsummer, which has been talked about and a meme since hitting theaters more than three years ago. In Ari Aster’s feverish dreams of passionate folk horror film A24, Pugh gives an outstanding performance as Dani Andor, a woman in her twenties who visits the beautiful Swedish commune with her boyfriend and friends, all of whom end up being sucked into the Pagan cult. Here, Pugh becomes the perfect scream queen, as she handles Dani’s nuances of sadness while balancing the film’s emotional intensity. There is no movie that better showcases top-level crying skills than Midsummerand, for that, we are truly grateful: a significant contribution to cinema as it has ever been.
She ends 2019’s killer streak with a bang, enchanting us all in Greta Gerwig’s delightful adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved 1868 novel. Little lady as Amy March. March’s youngest sibling has long been disliked and misunderstood by readers and audiences alike, but Pugh brings humanity to the character that allows us to find space in our hearts to love and relate to him. Playing Amy as a 12-year-old and as an adult was a challenge, to say the least, but Pugh managed to pull it off with ease. Paired with Gerwig’s beautiful script, he does Amy justice, perfectly capturing her mischievous, jealous, and spoiled personality while keeping her down to earth. It’s not hard to see why Pugh scored his first Academy Award nomination for his stunning, scene-stealing performance.
If there’s one thing that demonstrates stellar power in our current entertainment climate, it’s being cast in a Marvel project, and Pugh checked it off his list a few years ago. He’s making his MCU debut in 2021 black widow as Yelena Belova, who will play Black Widow in the recently announced film lightning series, securing its place as a key part of the franchise’s future. We’ll also see him step into more blockbuster territory soon with Dunes: Part 2, with fellow Hollywood sweethearts Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya.
The common thread between almost all of the characters is that they tend to be women in distress or women who feel they have something to prove. Whether it’s in Mrs Macbeth, Little lady, black widowor Do not worry dearhe infuses each role with depth and charisma, turning him into a fully conscious person who resonates and connects with us.
Florence Pugh has been a star and a leading lady long before Do not worry dear appeared, and he’s sure to survive (and, obviously thrive after) the storm of bad press that surrounds the film. One thing will always be true: he will captivate audiences for decades to come, and I will always go to the nearest theater on opening night to support, even if it means having to endure a Zach Braff-directed film as a result.