The Transformation Of Florence Pugh From Childhood To 26 Years Old

When Greta Gerwig wanted to cast Florence Pugh in her 2019 adaptation of "Little Women," she had some work to do in order to convince the studio that Pugh's name belonged on a cast list with A-list superstars like Saiorse Ronan, Emma Watson, Timothée Chalamet, and Meryl Streep. "I had her put herself on tape," Gerwig later recalled to The Hollywood Reporter, "so that I could prove to everyone at the studio that she was who I knew her to be: a stone-cold movie star as well as a top-notch actress."

At this point, thankfully, no one doubts that Pugh is a movie star. As a transformative artist whose range is ever-growing, the actor has changed her look and acting skills from project to project. As a result, she has continually proved herself able to meet the demands of whatever her roles require. Off-screen, her red carpet fashions also make headlines — she is as likely to show up at Cannes with a chic top-knot as she is to attend a Marvel Cinematic Universe premiere with fun, purple-dipped locks.

Far Out Magazine once described her as, "The blossoming face of modern cinema." Read on for a look at how that face blossomed, tracing out Pugh's transformation from childhood to 26 years old.

She came from a family of performers

Florence Pugh was born and raised in England, having lived briefly in Spain as a kid to recover from tracheomalacia, per Vogue. The whole family, including her three siblings, were performers. Pugh told The Last Magazine, "My mum was a dancer when she was younger and my dad is a restaurateur, so between the two of them, they know how to put on a good show." She later joked to The Guardian, "We're like the Von Trapps, but not quite as pretty or perfect." 

Arguably, Pugh was destined for stardom from a young age. Speaking to Vogue, she explained, "I've always been a very loud personality ... When I was younger I would always wear the brightest thing. I loved painting my face." Her parents encouraged her, as well as her older brother, Toby Sebastian — an actor who appeared on "Game of Thrones" as Trystane Martell. Pugh credits her brother's success with giving her a good idea of what to expect when she started acting herself. "By the time I stepped up, I kind of knew the harsh reality of how things worked," she told The Guardian.

Pugh and Sebastian still support one another. Back in 2013, Sebastian directed his Instagram followers to his sister's own profile — then featuring a humble 316 followers. Years later she returned the favor, suggesting that her now 7.4M fans check out her brother's music, writing, in part, "What a jazzy cool older brother to have."

She made music on YouTube

Before she became one of the most sought-after stars in Hollywood, Florence Pugh was just a teenage girl with a dream ... and a guitar. Starting in 2013, under the alias "Flossie Rose," Pugh uploaded acoustic covers to YouTube of songs like Jack Johnson's "Angel" as well as originals with titles like "I'll Wait" and "See the Signs." She was even the living embodiment of the "Anyway, here's Wonderwall" meme, uploading her own cover of the Oasis classic. She captioned the video, "So amazed by Ryan Adams' version of this I decided to have a go at it. Love the original and love this version — food for ears."

While many stars may have scrubbed the internet of their early attempts at fame, Pugh has chosen to keep the videos online. Understandably, they've attracted fans of the star's later acting career. As the "Midsommar" star told Variety, she's happy they've found a new audience. "It's lovely that people are loving them ... [and] finding them interesting and funny to look at!" She also mentioned that she would love to sing again someday. According to W Magazine, that wound up happening in 2022 when Pugh provided backing vocals to a song released by her brother, Toby Sebastian.

Florence Pugh's film debut

For many, Florence Pugh seemed to emerge a star, bursting onto screens in the late 2010s with tons of buzz. However, her on-screen debut was actually 2014, when she starred in writer-director Carol Morley's eerie drama "The Falling." The film focuses on a group of girls who experience some sort of social contagion, suddenly fainting at school for no apparent reason. In it, Pugh played cool-girl Abbie Mortimer, one of the first girls stricken with the mysterious fainting disease, opposite "Game of Thrones" star Maisie Williams. 

Though it didn't have much of a cultural impact, the film was a critical success, garnering an impressive 73% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Many reviews noted Pugh as an exciting new star, with The Hollywood Reporter describing her casting as a revelation. Pugh seemed to realize that her first film was a promising one, and she told Female First that she would use the movie as a guide for future projects. "My major goal is to keep the quality of the work as high as 'The Falling,'" she said. "I think it is so easy for young actors to accept anything because they want work, but I am being really careful with the things that I am selecting."  

Over the following few years of her career, the young actor's career trajectory would remain as strong as she'd hoped it would be. 

Lady Macbeth made viewers uncomfortable

Florence Pugh was delighted when some stressful scenes in her 2016 film "Lady Macbeth" proved to be too much for some audiences to handle. "Some people have gotten up and left, and to me, that's so exciting because we have achieved the ultimate," she bragged to The New York Times. "We have affected you so much that you can't sit and watch it anymore." In the film, Pugh depicted Katherine, the bored mistress of a manor who starts a tortured relationship with one of her servants. It was the first of Pugh's performances to bring her international acclaim. 

Though she was in her early 20s while starring in the film, the actor carried herself on screen like a woman much older and already world weary. Donning a number of elaborate gowns for the character, part of that presence likely came from how restrictive her costumes were. As she told The New York Times, the rigid attire helped get her into character. "Wearing a corset is extremely uncomfortable, but it was also a powerful tool," she explained. "... It made me realize: This is actually what women went through. This is how they lived."

The movie received critical praise, with Time Out celebrating the star's performance as a notable one with critic Cath Clarke writing, "Newcomer Florence Pugh is like a lightning bolt." The film netted Pugh a British Independent Film Award for Best Actress and a whole host of impressive nominations, signaling great things ahead.

A Netflix metamorphosis

2018 was a banner year for Florence Pugh. In addition to a small role in the Liam Neeson thriller "The Commuter," the actor also starred in two films for Netflix which showed off her budding versatility with roles and genres. First, she appeared in "Outlaw King," a historical epic where she played Elizabeth de Burgh, wife of Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine). Decider wrote that the actor stole the show, impressing audiences with her character's fierce survival instinct despite a plot that saw her locked in a cage for part of the film. She enjoyed getting dirtied up for the role, telling The Guardian that it came as a relief. "Everybody was gross and dirty and hairy; I was over the moon to be watching something where not one person was movie-ready.

Her second Netflix Original flick that year was "Malevolent." However, the horror film didn't get nearly the same amount of buzz and received a 55% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In the film, Pugh played an American paranormal investigator. Though as fans on Reddit noted, it's unclear why her character spoke in an American accent when the film was set in her home country of England. Regardless, it was another string to Pugh's professional bow. Along with the auburn locks she rocked in both films, the actor was continuing to change.

She played a wrestler

Florence Pugh starred in a number of high-profile films in 2019, including "Fighting with My Family," a wrestling drama that saw the actor undergo quite the transformation. In the film, she played the real-life WWE superstar Paige, a British woman whose wrestling family helped her to catapult to international fame. Ditching her trademark blonde hair, Pugh wore long, jet-black locks, dark eyeliner, and a lip ring, to mimic her character's real-life counterpart. Per WWE, when the two finally met, Pugh asked Paige how she felt the portrayal turned out. "Terrible!" the wrestling superstar joked, before clarifying, "See, that's a lie. I'm lying."

Critic Valerie Complex noted for The Playlist that the film represented a shift in Pugh's career. In response, the actor claimed that it wasn't intentional. "I don't go out of my way to look for the opposite of anything I've done previously," she insisted. "... For me, it's always about interesting and complicated characters."

The film was a critical success, garnering an impressive 93% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It also paired the star with wrestling legend Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who played himself in the movie. Pugh was nervous about working with the superstar, telling Entertainment Weekly, "I was sure that I was going to find some little problem with him — I was adamant that I was going to be the person that discovered he smelled funny or that he actually didn't know how to wrestle, but he really is that perfect!"

Her romance with Zach Braff drew criticism

"Scrubs" star Zach Braff directed Florence Pugh in a short film for Adobe called "In the Time It Takes to Get There." In it, Pugh played an imagined version of what a social media influencer might have been like in ye olden days while Alicia Silverstone played her publicist. The actor evidently hit it off with the "Garden State" director on set, because the two struck up a relationship despite the 21-year age gap between Braff and Pugh.

A few weeks after the short hit YouTube, E! reported that the pair had been photographed holding hands in New York City. Later that year, Braff commented on one of Pugh's Instagram posts, prompting a fan to snipe, "you're 44 years old" (via People). Unimpressed, the "Little Women" star responded, "And yet he got it." Thus, their relationship became Instagram official. 

Over the next several years, the sizeable age difference would become a frequent thorn in the couple's side. After wishing her man a happy birthday in 2020, fans once again questioned the relationship, leading her to post a video on Instagram defending her right to date whoever she pleases. "I am 24 years old," she pointed out. "I do not need you to tell me who I should and should not love and I would never in my life ... tell anyone who they can and cannot love. It is not your place."

Pugh's Midsommar performance made her an icon

Florence Pugh's second big role in 2019 gave her a chance to show off a new side of her career to audiences who were just starting to pay attention. In Ari Aster's horror "Midsommar," she depicted Dani, a young woman dealing with the sudden death of her family. In an attempt to shake off her grief, she accompanies her indifferent boyfriend to a Midsommar festival in Sweden where she discovers horrors beyond her comprehension. For one memorable scene, Pugh's character dons a flowery costume so seminal that it is already on display at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in LA.

During an interview with Vanity Fair, Pugh shared that she achieved her persistent howl of grief in the film by keeping headphones on between takes and thinking of her own family dying. "That seemed to get me pretty distraught pretty quickly ... [but] I don't know what that's done to my mental health," she joked. 

Years later, Pugh was pictured in paparazzi photos hanging with "Midsommar" co-star Will Poulter at the beach. While fans speculated that she may have broken up with Zach Braff in favor of the hunky star she once worked with, Pugh shut down the rumors on her Instagram Stories (via Buzzfeed). "I understand that the nature of this job is that you sometimes get your privacy completely bulldozed by the paparazzi, but to fabricate this stuff actually does more damage than good," she wrote.

She was nominated for an Oscar

Florence Pugh capped off her star-making 2019 with a critically-acclaimed turn as Amy March in Greta Gerwig's adaptation of "Little Women" — a performance that also impressed her director. Speaking with The New York Times, Gerwig praised the actor for achieving a more sympathetic take on the character than other adaptations of the Louisa May Alcott classic. She also predicted big things ahead for the budding superstar, telling the newspaper, "I knew there was no other person who could do it but Florence. She has movie star written all over her, but she's also a character actor, which is the best kind of movie star." Pugh was in good company, as the film paired her with one of her highest-profile co-stars yet — Meryl Streep, who played Aunt March. Understandably, it was a memorable experience. Pugh told Entertainment Weekly, "There's nothing better than acting with someone who's incredible. It makes you feel incredible."

In early 2020, the performance earned the star her first-ever Oscar nomination, and she shared pics on Instagram of herself finding out about the nod. The nearly-NSFW snap featured strategically-placed avocado emojis that prevented the pics from being caught by Instagram's famously restrictive algorithm. "It's a lovely feeling to know that not only is my work being liked but that it's being recognized," she told Entertainment Weekly as the news broke. "And 2020 is so far a great year!" Unfortunately, she didn't take home a golden statue that year ... and 2020 didn't turn out so great either.

Her cooking videos got people through quarantine

Though Florence Pugh told Entertainment Weekly that 2020 was off to a great start when she was nominated for an Oscar, like the rest of the world, the actor's year hit a snag when the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up. On the bright side, she was quarantined with her boyfriend Zach Braff and the two made the most of their time together. On the podcast "Table Manners" she told Jessie Ware that music was helping the couple through the tough time. "Every Saturday, they do these isolated gigs on the top of people's roofs," she said. "There will be like a singer singing one song over there ... it's really beautiful."

Pugh also turned to cooking, showing off her culinary skills in videos for her considerable Instagram followers. Early in quarantine, she prepared things like marmalade and ratatouille in what was evidently Braff's enviable kitchen, and fans came to love their time "Cooking with Flo." The series showed off her goofy side, posing for one snap with a colander on her head. The cooking videos continued even as the pandemic restrictions eased. In early 2021, posted a video on Instagram of her twirling some delicious-looking pasta on a fork, with the caption, "We reached a new level to quarantine last night. Home-made fettuccine and ravioli ... pretty stoked!" She noted that she and Braff each got to taste the concoction. Vanessa Hudgens commented on the vid (per People), "Wow, beautiful." Quite the way with words, that one.

Pugh joined the MCU

After Florence Pugh's career-making 2019, the actor got the biggest sign yet that she had officially arrived in Hollywood. The Marvel Cinematic Universe came calling, and the star was tapped to play Yelena Belova in the 2021 film "Black Widow." The MCU prequel finally centered around the character that Scarlett Johansson has played for more than a decade in other people's movies. It also allowed Pugh to show audiences yet another dimension of her capability for stardom, proving that she can adopt Russian accents just as well as she can land a superhero pose in a bonafide action flick.

The release of the film was delayed thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but when it finally dropped, the actor's character was revealed to be the sister of Johansson's Natasha Romanoff. Pugh described her character's relationship with the lead character to Variety. "[The film is] a sister story that really hones in on grief, on pain, on abuse, on being a victim — and living with being a victim," she explained. "... That is incredibly beautiful and impressive that Marvel tackled it in this way."

Later that year, Yelena returned in the Disney+ series "Hawkeye." There, Pugh's character came into contact with Hailee Steinfeld's Kate Bishop, a young woman taking up the mantle of Hawkeye just as Yelena is becoming the new Black Widow. By all accounts, it appeared that Pugh would be sticking around as the next phase of the MCU grinded to life.

She filmed a movie with Harry Styles

Anything former One Direction singer Harry Styles does is bound to garner attention online. So when it was announced that he had been cast in "Don't Worry Darling" by "Booksmart" director Olivia Wilde, fans online were excited that his co-star would be none other than Florence Pugh. On Twitter, the fan profile BestOfPugh noted, "The world is not ready for Florence Pugh and Harry Styles to play wife and husband." Meanwhile, one fan wondered aloud, "Do I want to be Florence Pugh because she's currently spending all day with Harry Styles or do I want to be Harry Styles because he's currently spending all day with Florence Pugh?"

Filming of the movie made headlines around the world. Fans camped out close to the set to snap photos of the stars in their costumes, even taking pictures of them eating meals together. Some set photos seemed to depict a dance scene with Pugh sporting a curly updo. Meanwhile, behind-the-scenes snaps depicted the "Lady Macbeth" star holding a mask to her face as she walked between trailers, her gorgeous white and black dress belted at the middle.

Wilde, who is now in a relationship with Styles, praised him on Instagram for ceding the spotlight to his female co-star, writing, "Not only did he relish the opportunity to allow for the brilliant Florence Pugh to hold center stage as our 'Alice,' but he infused every scene with a nuanced sense of humanity."

Her image changes caused waves online

Fans who first fell in love with Florence Pugh thanks to her career-making performances in "Midsommar" and "Little Women" got to know her as a fresh-faced blonde with medium-length hair, but the actor has always been a chameleon, able to switch up her look with little fanfare. Speaking to Elle, she explained her constantly evolving sense of style. "I want to be everything, and I want to look like everything, and I want to change my personality every single day," she said. Following her Oscar nomination, the actor made more changes that got fans talking.

In November 2021, Pugh debuted a new 'do on Instagram along with the caption, "I did a thing..." The photo showed Pugh with close-cropped brunette hair, tousled and wet. Understandably, the edgy look became instant style inspo for fans with one pondering on Twitter, "Do I follow suit??"

The following month, a post on the actor's Instagram revealed that she had recently gotten a septum piercing. Judging by her caption, Pugh struggled to remain composed during the process, writing, "When you wanna be a cool grown-up and get a cool new piercing and you instantly fail, go green and then faint." The picture showed her sucking on a lollipop, her new nose ring on full display. On Twitter, one fan wrote, "So annoying that Florence Pugh got a septum piercing like bro I already wanted you why are you making it more severe" — which we think was complimentary?

She's one of Hollywood's most in-demand actors

Ever since the industry-wide shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic ended and film production roared back to life, Florence Pugh's career showed no signs of slowing down. Thanks to her buzzy film roles and continued online fandom, she is one of Hollywood's most in-demand actors, signing on to two massive projects that will see her working with mega-famous directors like Christopher Nolan and acting in mega-budget sci-fi blockbusters like "Dune: Part 2." Through it all, she continues to be a refreshingly-real celeb on social media, sharing snaps with her flatulent dog to more than 7.4M Instagram followers.

According to Variety, Pugh has also been eyed to play Princess Irulan in the eagerly-anticipated "Dune: Part 2." Assuming the film follows the books, her character and Timothée Chalamet's Paul Atreides would have a romance, reuniting the actors years after they got hitched as Amy and Laurie in "Little Women."

Pugh is also one of many stars cast in Nolan's "Oppenheimer," a biopic about the inventor of the atomic bomb. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news of her casting in December 2021, suggesting that her name carries the same cachet as industry vets like Cillian Murphy, Rami Malek, Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, and many more. Fans online have pored over set photos depicting Pugh in 1950s period clothing and short brown hair. "oh she looks good," one fan wrote simply. Can't argue with that assessment!