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Florence Pugh Said She “Abused” Herself While Filming ‘Midsommar’

Midsommar is an intense movie to watch, so you can only imagine what it was like for Florence Pugh to film the A24 psychological thriller. Now, four years after its release, Pugh is opening up about the project and the “immense guilt” she felt when it was over.

Pugh played Dani in the Ari Aster film, a psychology student dealing with the death of her parents and sister who goes on a trip to Sweden to visit a commune for their annual midsummer festival with her toxic boyfriend and his friends. “When I did it, I was so wrapped up in her and I’ve never had this ever before with any of my characters,” Pugh said of Dani on the Off Menu podcast this week. “I’d never played someone that was in that much pain before, and I would put myself in really shitty situations that maybe other actors don’t need to do but I would just be imagining the worst things.”

Dani goes through many tragic experiences during her time on the commune, and Pugh was struggling throughout production to get into the proper headspace. “Each day the content would be getting more weird and harder to do,” she said. “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.”

It wasn’t just the psychological challenges, but the physical as well. Pugh explained that the film shot in a “very hot field,” saying “I wouldn’t say all of it was pleasurable.” By the time she left, and had to move on to Boston to film Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, she felt like she was leaving Dani behind. “I remember looking [out the plane] and feeling immense guilt because I felt like I’d left [Dani] in that field in that [emotional] state,” she said. “It’s so weird. I’ve never had that before. Obviously, that’s probably a psychological thing where I felt immense guilt of what I’d put myself through but I definitely felt like I’d left her there in that field to be abused, almost like I’d created this person and then I just left her there to go and do another movie.”

Pugh has spoken before about the emotional toll Midsommar had on her. In 2021, the actress shared a shot of the film on Instagram with a long message attached. “This was THE scene,” she wrote of the moment when Dani has a panic attack surrounded by the other young women in the commune who mimic her to an intense climax. “The scene where we would all throw our guts out on the floor and war cry and scream in each other’s faces…I remember the first take being so long, much longer than is displayed in the film that you all watched.”

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