Florence Pugh’s response to those Will Poulter dating rumours sends a vital message

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Lauren Geall
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Florence Pugh at the premiere of Netflix's Don't Look Up

In a series of Instagram stories published earlier this week, Florence Pugh called out the online reaction to photos of her and Will Poulter on holiday with friends – and sent an important message about the impact of social media.

Florence Pugh may be an Oscar-nominated actor who has starred in a long list of incredible films, but she’s also human – and she’s not afraid to remind everyone of that basic and crucial fact.

Since her breakout roles in Fighting With My Family and Midsommar, the actor has repeatedly spoken out against the public narrative about her, from the criticism she received about the age gap between her and her partner Zach Braff to the unnecessary comments made about her body in reviews for Fighting With My Family.

And now, Pugh has taught the world a lesson once again – this time, in response to rumours that she’s broken up with Braff and swiftly ‘moved on’ with her Midsommar co-star Will Poulter.  

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This week, photos taken of Poulter and the Black Widow star on holiday with friends in Ibiza fuelled speculation that Pugh’s relationship with Braff was no longer – with many reports suggesting that the pair looked close in the paparazzi shots. However, those rumours were quickly quashed after Pugh took to Instagram to address her fans.

“This is getting a little silly now,” she wrote in a series of posts uploaded to her Instagram Stories. “No, Will Poulter and I are not dating. We went to the beach with our friends, who are always about half a metre away from us in every picture, but have been cleverly cut out/framed out so that it looks otherwise.”

Going on to explain that her best friend is “in the corner” of many of the shots, Pugh spoke about the damaging impact these seemingly harmless rumours can have on the people they concern. 

Florence Pugh and Will Poulter with the cast of Midsommar at a screening of the film in 2019.
Florence Pugh and Will Poulter with the cast of Midsommar at a screening of the film in 2019.

“I understand that the nature of this job is that you sometimes get your privacy completely bulldozed by paparazzi, but to fabricate this stuff actually does more damage than good,” she wrote.

“There’s no need to drag people through this. Regardless of your opinion on who I should or shouldn’t be with, at the end of the day if you’re complimenting someone by trolling another person… you’re just bullying. There’s literally no need to be horrible online – no need. Think about what you write. Think about who it affects.”

In a show of support for Pugh, Poulter reposted her words, adding: “Thank you for calling out bullying when you see it.” 

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While social media may make it easy to comment on the lives of people in the spotlight, Pugh’s words are a reminder of the real-world impact such comments can have. 

If the vitriolic social media reaction to the ongoing defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard has shown us anything, it’s that many people have forgotten this crucial fact – and posts like Pugh’s are an important push back against this worrying trend.

Posting words on a screen about celebrities may not seem that big of a deal, but they’re people too – and whether you’re criticising a relationship or commenting on a court case, words really do matter. 

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.