In 2019, Florence Pugh and Zach Braff came under scrutiny when they went public with their relationship.
Zach has been liking Florence’s social media posts since August 2018, before he directed her in his short film In the time it takes to get therewhich came out the following April.
Florence then went Instagram Official with the former Scrub star in November 2019, and many were stunned by their 21-year age gap.
The backlash increased following Florence’s tribute to Zach on his 45th birthday in April 2020, at which point she decided to hit back in an impassioned video.
In her birthday post, the British actor – who was 24 at the time – wrote: “Today we will smile wider than the clouds are gray. April 6th and we celebrate hard! Happy birthday wishes, boogies and cheers to this special person. Lift those bubbles and shake!”
And in her follow-up, she shared her disappointment that “70% of the comments” were “abusive, horrible and basically bullying someone.”
“I won’t allow that behavior on my page. I’m 24 years old, I don’t need you telling me who to love and not to love,” Florence added at the time. “And I would never in my life, ever, ever tell anyone who they can and cannot love.”
“This is not your place,” she continued. “And actually it has nothing to do with you. The abuse you throw at him is abuse you throw at me.”
Florence addressed the criticism again in an interview with the Sunday Times in July 2021, where she said of her love life: “I think it bothers people that it’s not who they expected. But it’s my life and I do nothing to please people or make it a better headline or story.”
But at the start of this year Florence and Zach were widely speculated to have split, and she was forced to defend him again when she was romantically linked to her former costar Will Poulter in May.
On her Instagram story, Florence shut down the speculation and insisted that Will is just one of her closest friends.
She went on to address the shady tweets that speculated about Zach’s age amid reports that she was now dating someone who was also in their 20s.
Referring to these comments, Florence posted on social media: “There is no need to drag people through this. Regardless of your opinion on who I should or shouldn’t be with, if you end up complimenting someone by trolling another person… you’re just bullying.”
“There’s literally no need to be horrible online — no need,” she said. “Think about what you write. Think about who it affects.”
Florence did not confirm or deny whether she and Zach had broken up at the time, but three months later she revealed that they had parted ways earlier this year.
In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Florence admitted that they initially kept their split quiet so as not to encourage the media attention that has followed their relationship for the past three years.
“We tried to do this separation without the world knowing because it was a relationship that everyone had an opinion on,” she said in the profile published in August.
“We just felt something like this would really do us the benefit of not having millions of people tell us how happy they are that we’re not together. So we did it,” Florence explained.
However, the former couple have managed to maintain a close friendship, which was evidenced in a possibly flirtatious Instagram exchange on Thursday.
Zach took to his social media page to tell his followers that they were on a 30-minute Zoom call with him and his former Scrub costar Donald Faison, with proceeds going to Homes for Our Troops.
And it caught Florence’s attention – the actor said: “I’m definitely bidding on this.”
Zach quickly replied, “@florencepugh I’m sure you can get it for free, but it’s a really good cause for veterans….”
The sweet conversation bodes well for the pair’s upcoming shared movie project, A Good Personwhich is due for release on March 24, 2023.
Earlier this year, Florence endured a famously awkward push for her movie Don’t worry Darling amid a rumored feud with the film’s director, Olivia Wilde.
But her and Zach’s amicable relationship after the split suggests that history won’t repeat itself – and Zach, who directed. A Good Personpreviously spoke highly of his experience working with Florence.
He told Collider in March, “Florence Pugh’s performance in the movie, I know I’m biased, but it’s the most amazing thing you’ll ever see.”
“I know that anything Florence does is amazing,” he added. “People say she is perhaps the best actress of her generation. I think she is one of the best actresses working. This performance she gives is incredible.”