Florence Pugh has gotten the best reviews of her career for her fierce performance in William Oldroyd’s period drama “Lady Macbeth.” But that should hardly come as a surprise, since the young British actress is only 21 — and when she landed the role as a young woman sold into marriage, she was a teenager who’d never before starred in a movie.
“I’m aware that you don’t get roles like this when you’re 19,” Pugh told TheWrap. “You have to do a decade of proving yourself over and over again to get a role like that.”
In the film, which is based on the Russian novel “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District” and only vaguely related to Shakespeare through its theme of a strong woman wreaking havoc, Pugh plays Katherine, who is sold into a loveless marriage along with a piece of property. Told that her role is to stay indoors reading her prayer book all day, Katherine instead begins an affair with a farmhand, leading down a path to explosive violence that will leave some viewers convinced that Katherine is a grand villainess, others sure she’s a glorious embattled heroine.
“It’s very difficult to find a character as interesting and complex as Katherine,” Pugh said. “It doesn’t happen. But in doing this film, it’s kind of made me think, why not? Why aren’t there these epic roles for women, for whatever age you are? And why shouldn’t more unknown actors get the opportunity to prove themselves in a role like this?”
“Lady Macbeth” opened on July 14 and expands into more theaters on Friday. Since she made it, Pugh has gone on to star in the upcoming “Fighting With My Family,” in which she plays WWE wrestler Paige. Although the part takes her from corsets to wrestling tights, it’s a role she said she never would have gotten without the “Lady Macbeth” filmmakers creating a great role for a young woman, and giving the chance to a neophyte.
“This should happen a bit more often, I think,” she said.
See the video interview with Pugh above.