To many, the world of wrestling is completely alien. They know it exists, but only hear details in short burst from those who have encountered it. To others, wrestling is their life blood. A real-time soap opera playing out in the square circle between the heroes and villains of such organizations as the WWE. Among the loyal followers are Fighting with My Family’s real-life The Knights, a family of amatuer wreslters in Norwich, England; under the guise of patriarchs Ricky and Julia. Their children, have been in the ring since the second they could learn the moves, and their biggest dream has always been to get to the WWE themselves.
Fighting with My Family is a true life story of WWE superstar Paige, a trailblazer who was the youngest member of the Knight family. Before her massive fame, the family was the subject of a televised, hour-long documentary for Britain’s Channel 4. This documentary was the jumping off point for the feature length comedy/drama written and directed by Stephen Merchant. While sitting down with some of the cast, we took some time to speak with Florence Pugh and Lena Headey, who in the film play Paige and the mother who’s wrestling stage name she was named after in real-life, Julia “Saraya” Bevis. In our below interview, we talk about their relationship with the spectacle of wrestling and what it mean to be a family unit. In the below video you can also see us get Nick Frost and Jack Lowden in on the familial tag-team.
I’m wondering what your knowledge base or thoughts were about wrestling before you got involved in this project?
Florence Pugh: Didn’t know it, didn’t know it at all. I think [Lena] had more of a history with wrestling.
Lena Headey: Yes, personal history [Laughs]. I grew up watching because my dad loved it–the old school British Wrestling. They were these amazing characters who were just fat old men in unitards who kind of, put their fags out, get up and just slap their bellies against each other. It was mayhem, and it was all the tables and chairs everywhere. The sort of stuff like the Knights do, when everyone is on their feet, connecting with them.
Did being part of the film change your view on it at all?
FP: Totally. I will also say that when I came at this script, I still didn’t see it as intense as it actually was, which I would find out months later. I think, when I got the job–well even as I was auditioning for the part, I was looking into Paige’s videos: It was a world I didn’t know or pay much interest in before. Even when I was doing just a bit of research, I thought, “Yeah, okay, wrestling.” Then when I really got into it and had to start training and went to NXT and saw how these athletes live, I said, “Oh my goodness, I was so wrong about what I thought this world was.”
Of course, the film is really about this close knit family. Did it feel that way between you and Nick [Frost] and Jack [Lowden] as well, that you were a family?
FP: Totally, yeah.
LH: Nope, I don’t like any of the family. [Laughs]
FP: Well it is hard, not to love every single one of these guys in the family. They’re beautiful people that I’ve watched growing up and wanted to work with someday, so that is one thing that is great. Also, the fact that we are playing such big, beautiful characters that are real people. We had a lot of fun shooting it and it’s almost near impossible not to laugh when you’re around Nick.
LH: Yeah, and also it’s impossible not to bond when you’re wrestling each other in various forms of lycra.
What about the parallels between your careers Florence and Paige’s career, because you both were practically just shot out of a cannon.
FP: I mean, she’s doing a bit more in terms of–I mean, she achieved a lot more by the age of 18, in terms of what she did for her industry and what she did to her craft. She’s definitely put her name on the map in a big way, and not just for her, but for so many people.
Fighting with My Family opened in limited release on Feb. 14 and opens wide on Feb. 22.