The 27-year-old actor reflected on her career during a new interview with Time for the cover of the magazine’s “Next Generation Leaders” issue. After starring in Lady Macbeth, she played a WWE wrestler alongside Dwayne Johnson in the 2019 film, Fighting With My Family.
Pugh told the publication she was happy with the role, and what it meant for her appearance, as it came after a previous boss had allegedly criticised her appearance.
“The person I came back to was a female wrestler with muscles and big thighs who made her own name as a champion,” she said. “I quite liked that because the last time I’d been there I was told I needed to lose weight - it was just so not the person I wanted to be.”
Pugh also said that when she’s starring as the leading lady in films, she tries to bring one personality trait to each of her characters.
“Even if they’re not defined on the page, I always find some way to make them quite confrontational,” the Don’t Worry Darling star said. “I never see the bad in them - even when they have killed children and burned boyfriends. I’ve always understood them as people that needed to do what they had to do to survive.”
The actor first reflected on the moment she was allegedly approached about her weight during an interview with The Telegraph last year. While speaking to the publication, she said that, after she’d landed a lead role as a pop star in a TV pilot at the age of 19, a studio boss wanted to change her appearance.
“All the things that they were trying to change about me – whether it was my weight, my look, the shape of my face, the shape of my eyebrows – that was so not what I wanted to do, or the industry I wanted to work in,” she explained at the time.
“I’d thought the film business would be like [my experience of making] The Falling,” she added, referring to the first film she was in. “But actually, this was what the top of the game looked like, and I felt I’d made a massive mistake.”
She specified that the pilot for the show, Spin City, was never picked up. She then made her way back home to England, where she auditioned and got cast in Lady Macbeth. According to Pugh, working on the film made her “fall back in love with cinema”.
“The kind of cinema that was a space where you could be opinionated, and loud, and I’ve stuck by that,” Pugh explained. “I think it’s far too easy for people in this industry to push you left and right.”
In a video with Vogue earlier this year, the Little Women star spoke out about everyday beauty standards, as she addressed how body image can be a “major thing” for women.
“From the moment you start growing thighs and bums and boobs and all of it, everything starts changing. And your relationship with food starts changing,” she said, while cooking in the video.
She also noted that she’d made it clear at the start of her career that she wasn’t abiding by the entertainment industry’s expectations about her appearance.
“I had a weird chapter at the beginning of my career, but that was because I wasn’t complying. I think that was confusing to people, especially in Hollywood,” Pugh said. “Women in Hollywood, especially young women in Hollywood, are obviously putting themselves in all these ways in order to get whatever opportunity that they need to get because that’s just the way that it’s been.”