"They were like, 'Great, now she’s gone forever.'"

Florence Pugh's indie film friends didn't exactly have a marvelous reaction to her becoming a superhero. 

The actress, who made her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in 2021, revealed in a recent TIME Next Generation Leaders profile that she received heavy backlash from her arthouse contemporaries after joining the mainstream film franchise. 

"So many people in the indie film world were really pissed off at me. They were like, 'Great, now she's gone forever,'" Pugh recalled. "And I'm like, no, I'm working as hard as I used to work. I've always done back-to-back movies. It's just people are watching them now. You just have to be a bit more organized with your schedule."

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 27: Florence Pugh attends as Tiffany & Co. Celebrates the reopening of NYC Flagship store, The Landmark on April 27, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tiffany & Co.)
Florence Pugh
| Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Pugh quickly became a rising star of the independent film scene after appearing in a collection of hits, including 2016's Lady Macbeth, 2018's Malevolent, and Ari Aster's 2019 folk-horror flick Midsommar. She was set to star as the no-nonsense assassin Yelena Belova in Marvel's Black Widow the same year, but the project was delayed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the last two years, Pugh has returned to the role in the Disney+ series Hawkeye and is set to appear alongside Sebastian StanWyatt Russell, her Black Widow costar David Harbour, and more in the upcoming film Thunderbolts

Still, in between every big budget production, Pugh has managed to find her way back to her arthouse roots. In recent years, she starred in Sebastián Lelio's psychological period piece The Wonder as well as her ex Zach Braff's A Good Person. Now, her pendulum is swinging toward two very high-profile projects: Denis Villeneuve's sci-fi epic Dune: Part Two and Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer, which both hit theaters later this year.

Speaking with TIME, Pugh described Villeneuve as a "bizarre, mad, creative genius" for his larger-than-life vision for the sandworm-filled sequel — which also stars Zendaya, Timothée Chalamet, and Austin Butler — and praised Nolan's leadership, noting that he "has the utmost respect for every single person working on that set."

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