Side note: In The Falling, Pugh also demonstrates her musical ability. Before getting into acting, Pugh posted song covers on YouTube.
Pugh played Amy, the youngest of the March sisters, in Greta Gerwig’s 2020 adaptation of the beloved Louisa May Alcott novel, Little Women. This cast is an embarrassment of riches, but, for many, Pugh is the standout, bringing nuance and likability to a complicated role. Her Oscar-nominated performance spans years, requiring Pugh to play ages 12 to 18—and she somehow mostly pulls it off?
Fighting With My Family
In 2019, Pugh played real-life wrestler Paige Knight in this biopic based on the 2012 documentary about the English pro wrestler’s journey from wrestling with her family in the UK’s World Association of Wrestling to trying out and making it big as part of the WWE. Like pretty much all of Pugh’s projects, there is a lot to like about Fighting With my Family. Past the strength of the true story, Pugh’s co-stars include Lena Headey, Nick Frost, and Dwayne Johnson (in a meaty cameo role).
Arguably Pugh’s breakout role, 2016’s Lady Macbeth sees the actress taking center stage in this adaptation of 19th century Russian novella Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. Pugh stars as Katherine, a young woman married to an old and rigid man in rural Northumberland circa 1865. Like other films on this list, the Victorian tragedy is not for the faint of heart, but it’s worth it for Pugh’s mesmerizing performance.
Little Drummer Girl
For the most part, Pugh has stuck to cinematic roles, which makes 2018 TV miniseries Little Drummer Girl a bit of an outlier. But let’s be real: the BBC adaptation of the John le Carré novel isn’t your typical TV project. All six episodes are directed by Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook (The Handmaiden) and include actors like Michael Shannon and Alexander Skarsgård—this miniseries may have been broadcast on TV, but it has more in common with feature film projects than much of the TV landscape.
Pugh stars as Charlie, an aspiring actress in 1979’s UK who is recruited by Mossad agents to infiltrate a Palestinian group plotting terrorism in Europe. The character acts as both an audience surrogate and a source of mystery for the viewer, as Charlie becomes further embroiled in the ethically complex scenario. This is one of the best le Carré adaptations out there, and includes some of Pugh’s best work.