Florence Pugh Says She Suffered Self-Abuse For Her Best Role

Florence Pugh says she suffered self-abuse while making the acclaimed horror film Midsommar.

By Robert Scucci | Updated

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When an actor or actress truly gets into their role, it’s sometimes difficult for them to move on from the character they created when production wraps. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Florence Pugh (Thunderbolts, The Wonder) experienced a whirlwind of emotions when production for Midsommar wrapped up, and her character Dani was left behind. Pugh has stated that she suffered a form of self-abuse in order to get into Dani’s headspace for the film.

Elaborating on her psychological state toward the end of production, Florence Pugh said that “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.”

As viewers, we often see the final product on the screen, but it’s easy to gloss over the fact that these fictional characters are portrayed by real people who have to go through similar emotional arcs to act convincingly. For Florence Pugh, the worst part about portraying Dani in Midsommar was leaving her character behind after wrapping production to go work on Little Women. She stated that she felt a tremendous amount of guilt leaving Dani behind with the Harga community, and their horrifying cult practices.

Midsommar is a harrowing folk-horror film about coping with grief, loss, and betrayal, and is mostly set in a commune in rural Hälsingland, Sweden. As Florence Pugh’s Dani character becomes increasingly consumed with grief over her family’s death, it’s her relationship with her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) that is ultimately at odds as the film unfolds. The Harga community has practices that involve human sacrifice, and Dani is faced with the choice of offering Christian to a ritual in which he’s burned alive, or letting a lottery choose the final victim.


Though Dani is a good person, she’s manipulated by the cult (not unlike the cult in Nicolas Cage‘s The Wicker Man), and it’s Christian’s infidelity and indifference to her grief which urges her to offer him for the ritual sacrifice. The final scene shows Dani sobbing before her face transitions into a sinister smile, completing the ritual. We’ve seen actors get lost in a role time and time again, and for Florence Pugh, this is the role that stuck with her after production wrapped.

Florence Pugh stated that she was flooded with intense feelings of guilt as she was flying off to Boston to start production on her next film, because she felt like she left behind a fragile character who needed guidance and nurturing; a feeling she says she had never felt before in her acting career. This just goes to show you that even the most talented of actors sometimes have difficulty hitting the “off” switch when working on a role. It’s no mystery by now that mental health comes into question in Hollywood, but in Pugh’s case, we can see a lot of empathy on her part, because she truly felt sad for Dani.

But it’s Florence Pugh’s immense sense of empathy that makes her such a great actress. You can see this sense of empathy in Pugh’s most recent effort, A Good Person (co-starring Morgan Freeman), which saw its theatrical release on March 24, 2023. Whether her characters are being indoctrinated by a murderous cult, or coping with opioid addiction, Florence Pugh is a force to be reckoned with, because you can see a serious actress who cares deeply about her characters.