Judging by their gushing Instagram odes to one another, Florence Pugh and boyfriend Zach Braff appear to still be going strong after more than two years of dating. But the couple, who live together in Los Angeles, have stirred up some criticism because of their age difference: Pugh, now starring in Black Widow, is 25, while former Scrubs star Braff is 46.
In a new interview with the Sunday Times, the British actress speculates on why her relationship has prompted some backlash.
“I think it bugs people that it’s not who they expected,” the Oscar-nominated star tells the U.K. publication.
She agrees when it’s suggested that fans might prefer she date someone like her Little Woman love interest, Timothée Chalamet, who is also 25.
“Exactly. Exactly,” Pugh says. “But it’s my life and I’m not doing anything to please people or to make it a better headline or story. I want to also be a person!”
Pugh was hit with a barrage of negative comments about her romance in April 2020 after she posted a loving birthday message to Braff. The actress responded to commenters “hurling abuse” by posting a video pleading for a more supportive tone.
“I’m 24 years old,” she said. “I have been working since I was 17 years old. I have been earning money since I was 17 years old. I became an adult when I was 18 years old, and I started paying taxes when I was 18 years old. I’ll underline this fact: I am 24 years old. I do not need you to tell me who I should and should not love, and I would never in my life ever, ever tell anyone who they can and cannot love. It is not your place, and really it has nothing to do with you.”
Speaking to the Times, Pugh addresses the bullying comments she’s received about dating Braff.
“It’s so weird to me to go on to someone’s page and s**t on it,” she says. “That’s so not my nature — to go and bully for the sake of bullying. It’s such an odd thing that we’ve become OK with in the past 10 years of social media. The thing is, people want Instagram to be a nicer place, they want to see nice things. They want to be inspired and they want to be happy. I don’t mind you not liking me, that’s absolutely fine. In which case don’t follow me.”
The interview also sees Pugh reflecting on the death of Braff’s close friend Nick Cordero from COVID-19. July 5 will mark the one-year anniversary of the Broadway star’s death.
“I realized that I was having a tough time with anxiety and I’d never had that before,” she says of the pandemic. “Usually I’m always on the go, I’m always moving. And when all of that was quiet and still, I was really surprised to see, or feel, that I still had a crazy amount of adrenaline running through my veins.”
She adds, “I don’t think it helped that we were going through a lot… “One of our best friends was dying of COVID. So that obviously added a lot of emotions to the cocktail.”
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