Florence Pugh has confirmed that she and Zach Braff split some time earlier this year after more than three years of dating, in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar for the magazine’s September 2022 cover that came out Tuesday. “We’ve been trying to do this separation without the world knowing, because it’s been a relationship that everybody has an opinion on,” Pugh told the magazine, without specifying at what point this year the couple called it quits. “We just felt something like this would really do us the benefit of not having millions of people telling us how happy they are that we’re not together.”
“I automatically get a lumpy throat when I talk about it,” Pugh added. She also critiqued paparazzi’s aggressive coverage of her day-to-day life, which impacted her decision to keep the break-up private: “I don’t think that people, just because they have this job, that every aspect of their life should be watched and written about. We haven’t signed up for a reality TV show.”
News of Pugh and Braff’s split comes amid ongoing controversy and rumors about her highly anticipated new movie Don’t Worry Darling. Fan theories and “insiders” allege that Pugh’s relationship with director Olivia Wilde was strained because Wilde allegedly cheated on Jason Sudeikis with Harry Styles on the set of DWD in 2020, and Braff, then Pugh’s boyfriend, was close friends with Sudeikis. The viral gossip machine DeuxMoi has even alleged that Pugh at one point hooked up with Styles during filming, though no actual sources have gone on the record with this claim. Either way, the Don’t Worry Darling set sounds like an intense place that put relationships to the test—Wilde, who now lives with Styles in London, has been embroiled in a messy custody battle with Sudeikis for the past several months.
Pugh and Braff seemed to confirm their relationship in 2019, after first being linked in 2018, to intense scrutiny from fans due to their 21-year age difference. In December 2019, when a user commented “You’re 44 years old” to Braff’s Instagram post of Pugh, she replied, “And yet he got it.” (Notably, Hollywood age differences in which nearly 50-year-old men date 20-something women a la DiCaprio aren’t exactly rare.)
The snide comment about Braff’s age wound up being just the tip of the iceberg. By April 2020, when Pugh publicly wished Braff a happy 45th birthday, within days she posted a video directly addressing the “abuse” and “bullying” directed at her relationship from fans. “I’m 24 years old,” Pugh said. “I have been working since I was 17, I’ve been earning money since I was 17. I became an adult when I was 18. … I am 24 years old.” She continued:
“I do not need you to tell me who I should and should not love. And I would never in my life, ever, tell anyone who they can and cannot love… It is not your place and really it has nothing to do with you. If those rules are something you do not like, please unfollow me. The abuse you throw at him is the abuse you throw at me, and I do not want those followers.”
The relationship appeared to be steady for years—the couple adopted a shared dog together during the pandemic and even sparked marriage rumors at the beginning of last year; as recently as April, Pugh dedicated a post to celebrating Braff’s birthday. Of course, by May, steamy-looking photos of Pugh and Midsommar co-star William Poulter on vacation with friends sparked aggressive rumors that she and Braff had broken up, and she was now with Poulter. The photos prompted massive social media reaction, as fans of Pugh took to Twitter to celebrate and viral posts pondered if she’d “put Old Yeller out to pasture.” Yikes!
Pugh swiftly denied the rumors (though she thanked fans “for saying we look sexy… doesn’t mean we’re doing the sexy”), but in hindsight, she only denied being with Poulter and didn’t confirm she was still with Braff.
The exact timeline of Pugh and Braff’s split isn’t clear, and given Pugh’s emphasis on the importance of privacy in her personal life, it probably never will be. Nonetheless, with Don’t Worry Darling premiering within weeks, there’s no shortage of gossip circulating about the cast.