Florence Pugh plays a complex heroine in “Don’t Worry Darling”

by Matthew Escosia
SEA Wave - Don't Worry Darling Florence Pugh
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To portray the heroine, Alice—one-half of a deliriously happy couple in New Line Cinema’s audacious, twisted and visually stunning thriller, “Don’t Worry Darling”—director Olivia Wilde cast globally acclaimed Academy Award-nominated actress, Florence Pugh (“Little Women,” “Black Widow”).

The provocative, relatable themes of the project piqued Pugh’s interest: “It’s about so many different dynamics. It’s about control, manipulation, oppression, relationships, sexual fantasies. It’s about how do you keep your life perfect and when it’s not… what are you going to do about it?”

In the film, Alice (Pugh) and Jack (Harry Styles) are lucky to be living in the idealized community of Victory, the experimental company town housing the men who work for the top-secret Victory Project and their families. The 1950’s societal optimism espoused by their CEO, Frank (Chris Pine) anchors every aspect of daily life in the tight-knit desert utopia. But when cracks in their idyllic life begin to appear, exposing flashes of something much more sinister lurking beneath the attractive façade, Alice can’t help questioning exactly what they’re doing in Victory, and why.

For Pugh, the idea of Victory is both a place and a way of life: “Victory is perfection. Victory is when you are young and you close your eyes, and you imagine the best possible life for yourself. How do you imagine it? You imagine it by palm trees. You imagine it by the pool. You imagine it with a cocktail in your hand, and you looking amazing all the time. That is what I see Victory as. Everything is heightened, and everything is perfect.”

SEA Wave - Don't Worry Darling Florence Pugh

Photo from Warner Bros. Pictures

“There’s something about Florence that is just so smart,” Wilde says, “the way she questions and considers everything. I thought, ‘That’s the quality we need for Alice.’ Once I spoke to Florence as taking on Alice, I thought, ‘Now, everything starts from this, everything starts from her instincts.’ Everything else became really clear… who we were going to surround her with came into focus based on what she was going to create. The conversations were all about how this woman needed to be everything except the kind of 1950s housewife. How it had to feel organic. You didn’t want to, for a second, question whether or not she was real or the world was real. And how the relationship between Alice and Jack had to be deeply passionate and feel really contemporary, in a sense—equal.”

Asked what filmgoers will take away from “Don’t Worry Darling,” Pugh concludes, “I think for me, it’s the fact that you’re completely swept up in this world. You totally feel like these are your people, just living in a heightened reality in the 1950s—I think you’re very quickly swept up in their lives, their relationships and their fun. And that’s where it catches you… so much so that when Alice is going through all of this, even she is shaking her head, trying to wake up and be perfect the next day. It kind of goes back to how much would you turn a blind eye to, even if your gut was telling you that something is wrong?”

A New Line Cinema presentation, “Don’t Worry Darling” is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures and is set to open in cinemas across the Philippines on September 28. Join the conversation online and use the hashtag #DontWorryDarling

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