“Fighting With My Family” is the first truly great movie of 2019. Director Stephen Merchant directs a top-notch cast in this ballbusting, feel-good movie filled with love, laughs, and electricity. This is a movie for the anyone that ever felt like an outsider, or felt their dreams were out of reach.
The movie tells the true story of Saraya-Jade Bevis (aka “Paige”) and her family as she rises through the ranks from local wrestling entertainer in her home town of Norwich, England, to meeting Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Diva’s Champion—and all the sacrifices she and her family had to make in the process.
The story follows the Knight family: Julia (Lena Heady), Ricky (Nick Frost), Zak (Jack Lowden), and Saraya (Florence Pugh), and their family business WAW (World Association of Wrestling). WAW is a small-town wrestling organization with exhibition matches and wrestling training available for anyone willing to learn. Siblings Zak and Saraya (stage names “Zak Zodiac” and “Paige”) are determined to make it to the big leagues and work alongside their favorites like The Rock. When the opportunity comes in the form of auditions, the duo gives it their all, but it is Paige who is given the chance to work with professional trainers.
With the pressure of success and family expectations weighing heavily on her shoulders, Paige must navigate the unforgiving wrestling world while learning to stay true to who she is: the goth girl with a heart of gold and a mean finishing move.
At the core of “Fighting With My Family” is Florence Pugh, who delivers a tenacious performance as the film’s wrestling heroine. The Playlist sat down with the young actress to discuss her training, working with The Rock, and why she relates to closely to the character and the Bevis family.
From your first film “The Falling” up until now, how do you go about choosing your roles? All your roles are all very different and yet so they are all complicated.
My filmography is the most bizarre thing. I don’t go out of my way to look for the opposite of anything I’ve done previously, but for me, it’s always about interesting and complicated characters. It’s never been about targeting period pieces or comedies, as I think people assume I’m into that due to my current filmography, but I think it’s more about discovering who these characters are and why they are interesting, emotional, and relatable to myself and the audience—and that is what’s exciting about acting and finding roles fit for me.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with “Fighting With My Family.” I used to watch wrestling religiously as a kid, and from the trailers, this didn’t seem like another wrestling movie. Was any aspect of the wrestling theme intimidating to you?
Totally! It was terrifying. If it had been a boxing film, I think would have been less scared because I know more about boxing as a sport. Wrestling is a genre and a world I knew nothing about. I realize with wrestling comes a universe where lines are blurred between fandom, fantasy, and reality, and that is very intimidating to step into because it’s something I didn’t understand it until now.