Florence Pugh and Jack Lowden have more than a few acting credits to their names and can next be seen together in Fighting With My Family, but when it comes to the world of film their tenure is relatively new.
Both actors made their big screen debuts in 2014 – Pugh in Carol Morley’s The Falling and Lowden in Yann Demange’s ’71 – and they’ve since gone on to feature in bigger roles in bigger productions but in those five years, the pair have seen positive changes to the culture on film sets especially since Time’s Up was launched just over a year ago in response to the Weinstein effect and #MeToo.
“I can say that prior to when it all broke out I had quite a fair bit of naked scenes or sex scenes and never felt any tensions on sets,” Pugh told Yahoo Movies UK. “Certainly, afterwards, everybody was more aware and awake to things being accidentally done wrong so I think there is a new level of safety.
“The most important thing is that it is a conversation and people feel that they can come forward and talk about it,” she adds, “it’s a new set of rules, it’s a new law book, I suppose, so it’s going to adapt and change the older it gets and that’s a good thing.”
Lowden says that making people feel comfortable on set should be “just common sense and common courtesy,” but the focus shouldn’t only be on what is happening in front of the camera.
“It is really sad that that can sometimes be completely abused but I don’t think that the #MeToo movement is just about when on camera if people are being taken advantage,” the actor said, “I think it’s more to do with what the public don’t get to see and that is the casting couch kind of situations.”
Pugh suggests that the problem with the film industry is that it is not governed in the same way that other workplaces are. “This is one of the only industries where there are no rules and from when Hollywood started it was such a party town where the world and the lines were blurred,” she explains.
“In other workforces, you can’t party at work with a drink but that’s happened for many years in Hollywood.
“It’s the private parties, like what Flo said,” Lowden continues. “It’s less to actually to do with what happens on set. I think we mustn’t get confused that that’s the only place that needs to be regulated because that’s probably the easiest place it can be.”
On the Fighting With My Family film set, there was nothing but love and jokes for the two actors who play Zack and Saraya, siblings from Norwich who both dream of competing in the WWE. The film is based on the real-life zero-to-hero story of Total Divas wrestler Paige Bevis and the 2012 documentary The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family about her wrestling family.
As two wannabe WWE stars from a working-class family in the UK, Zack and Saraya suffer their fair share of knockbacks, which the actors could relate to because of the rejections that come with their own career.
“The whole thing of your life being dependent on what other people think of you and not really being your own boss is something that you could definitely associate with being an actor,” Lowden says. “The whole singing for your supper kind of element.”
“There’s a lot of nos and very little yeses,” Pugh adds.
It was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Stephen Merchant who said “yes” to the two actors starring in the comedy-drama, with the latter making his solo directorial debut. Merchant has been in front of the camera for many years and is rather iconic in the comedy genre, which is what Lowden thinks makes him a good director.
“He’s incredibly intelligent and his attention to detail is amazing,” the actor says. “He’s also a very good actor and sometimes his direction would be, he’d do the line and because it’s Steve Merchant it would be a lot funnier than what you’ve done and you would just nick that – you’d be an idiot not to.
“He doesn’t waffle too much,” Lowden adds, “I like that sort of directing.”
So what makes a bad director?
“I’m not a big fan of, ‘let’s just see what happens,'” he says. “It’s such a romantic notion. I wonder if that’s from people who don’t have a plan? I just feel like anybody can do this job if it’s just to see.”
“When someone tries to let you figure out what you’ve done wrong that is so frustrating,” Pugh says. “When they come and let you know that that it’s not quite right but they won’t tell you what it is that’s not right, so they let you figure it out and then you’re like well thanks. Now I’m insecure.”
“Do you think it’s because they don’t know?” Lowden asks.
“I think it’s because that maybe they do but they’re not going to let you know because they’d much rather you figure out,” Pugh suggests. “It’s a funny power play; I don’t know how it works, but that’s the most frustrating thing.”
Fighting With My Family is cinemas from Wednesday, 25 February