Florence Pugh (Carl Timpone/BFA.com)

Hot off the heels of her acclaimed performance as Alice in Don’t Worry Darling, Academy Award-nominated actress Florence Pugh has yet another film coming out this year to get excited about. Pugh’s debut Netflix original project, The Wonder, comes out in November and is based on Emma Donoghue’s 2016 novel of the same name, inspired by a chilling true story set in the 19th-century.

Pugh stars as the British nurse Lib Wright, who travels to visit a devout 11-year-old named Anna O’Donnell, who claims to have been starving herself for months. The child asserts to have remained nourished simply through “manna from heaven,” rather than any food in a famine-ravaged Ireland.

Wright travels to monitor Anna’s health alongside a skeptical journalist Will Byrne (Tom Burke), who both begin to formulate their own theories as to how the child is surviving, eventually revealing a serious case of child abuse. Harry Potter actor Toby Jones and Belfast’s Ciarán Hinds round out the core cast in the project directed by Oscar-winning Sebastián Lelio.

Florence Pugh in The Wonder (Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022)

“We’ve been traipsing around the Irish hills for the last week, and it’s truly been a magnificent start to a beautiful and exciting film,” Pugh told her 8.2 million Instagram followers last August. “What a story to get our teeth stuck into, what a crew to be working alongside and a fantastic director Sebastián Lelio to be leading us! This will be fun.”

From the author who brought us Room, Donoghue told The Hollywood Reporter of the inspiration behind the film. “Back in the late ’90s, I came across one of these cases of a fasting girl,” she said. “Anytime from the 16th century through to the 20th, you would have a girl or a woman hit the headlines for apparently being able to live without food. You see this kind of recurrent cultural fantasy in Europe, British Isles, Canada, America, in different varieties of Christianity, or even not particularly in a religious setting—just this idea, ‘Imagine if a girl could live without food?’”

Lelio told the outlet, “What I really loved about the story and about Emma’s novel is that the nurse, Lib, Florence’s character has to transcend reason in order to save herself and hopefully the girl from that narrative war in which she’s immersed.” He went on to explain, “Everyone has a take. It’s not about the girl anymore. It’s about who controls the narrative, and I thought that was what really made it a story so resonant for these times.”

Florence Pugh  in The Wonder. (Cr. Christopher Barr/Netflix © 2022)

“Florence Pugh, she got the script, and very quickly she was in,” Lelio told the publication. “I was over the moon.” Gushing over Pugh’s talent, Lelio admitted he knew they had a film when Pugh signed onto the project.

“She’s great, she’s a great actress,” said Lelio. “What she does in the film – the character, what she does — it’s to say the least, morally complex. Florence has such magnetism that you walk by her side, on her side, despite the very extreme things she has to do.”

Pugh, who began her career starring in the 2017 adaptation of Lady Macbeth, is returning to her Victorian thriller roots and has already received critical acclaim for her performance in The Wonder.

Florence Pugh as Lib Wright, Kíla Lord Cassidy as Anna O’Donnell in The Wonder. (Cr. Aidan Monaghan/Netflix © 2022)

In 2023, Pugh will star in the film A Good Person alongside Morgan Freeman and Molly Shannon, Oppenheimer alongside Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, and Matt Damon, and Dune: Part Two alongside Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya.

The director said in a statement via Netflix, “Bringing the powerful novel The Wonder by Emma Donoghue to the screen not only offers me the chance to portray the collision between reason and faith, individual and community, obedience and rebellion, but also to explore my own interpretation of what a ‘period’ film can be.”

The Wonder is slated to hit select theaters November 2, before debuting on Netflix on November 16.

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