Florence Pugh Improvised The Hot Sauce Detail In Hawkeye Episode 5

This post contains SPOILERS through episode 5 of "Hawkeye."

When she's not trying to skewer our heroes with sharp blades, Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) is a joyous addition to the MCU! Oh, who am I kidding — even when she's careening down the side of a building, aiming a gun directly at an Avengers face, Yelena's pretty great to have around. We only knew her for a single movie before her "Hawkeye" appearance, having debuted in Natasha Romanoff's solo outing, "Black Widow," but it didn't take long for the masses to get attached. The movie meant to be Natasha's (Scarlett Johansson) grand send-off doubled as an exciting introduction to her little sister: the blunt, unapologetic, and effortlessly charming Yelena.

The reasons for loving Yelena are truly endless. Is it her hilarious personality? Her ability to switch from deadly assassin mode to childlike excitement? Her cool jacket with all the pickets? Or maybe it's the Florence Pugh of it all? Ultimately, all the factors are adding up in her favor and we know by now to get thrilled by the sight of her onscreen. "Hawkeye" marks her second appearance in the MCU, but Pugh is already hinting at more to come.

This is great news, not just because it's fun to see Yelena being badass, but because Pugh has proven to be the perfect person for the job, and it's exciting to imagine where she'll take Yelena next. Everything from the emotional gut punches down to the minor character flourishes have been incredible — in fact, "Hawkeye" directors Bert & Bertie (Amber Templemore-Finlayson and Katie Ellwood) recently revealed that one of Yelena's most lovable moments yet was an improvised addition from Pugh herself. In episode 5 of "Hawkeye," we get a best of both worlds collision when Yelena sits down for a chat with Clint's protegée, Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld). They exchange some pleasantries of the are you gonna try to kill me again variety, then eventually make conversation over a pot of macaroni and cheese, the only food known to man that can unite enemies in friendship. Before delving into the pot, Yelena first confirms that Kate has finished up before adding a special squirt of hot sauce for her own munching pleasure.

Yelena Loves Hot Sauce (And We Love Yelena)

Not gonna lie folks, I don't think I knew that mac and cheese with hot sauce was a thing before this fateful moment. Sure, buffalo chicken mac-and-cheese is one thing, but just squirting sriracha straight into your cheesy pasta? This is a genius-level development fit to rival the inventions of Tony Stark, and Yelena just did it without a second thought! Or, as it turns out, Florence did. Bertie told THR the story behind this moment:

"The hot sauce came out on the day. We wanted Kate to throw something. Anything — the first thing that she could find that was a bit ridiculous. The hot sauce was right there. Then Florence was, 'Well this now needs to go on the mac and cheese.' We were like, 'Oh gosh, really? For this many takes?' She goes, 'I love hot sauce.' We go, 'That's a big, punchy, bold decision to make.' She did not complain once."

In case you didn't get it from that anecdote, Florence Pugh is a big fan of hot sauce. The kind that travels with mini tabasco sauces in her purse for, y'know, reasons. Thus, we get a teeny tiny character detail that somehow makes Yelena infinitely more fun. Of course, the other major players in crafting Yelena's general awesomeness are Bert & Bertie.

In preparation for writing Pugh's character into the show, the directing duo was indoctrinated into the MCU world of secrecy, which included a top-secret, early screening of "Black Widow." That might be the reason mac and cheese comes up in the first place, a reference to the food Yelena craved in her childhood. The pair also got top-secret info from other movies to include, like the fact that the Statue of Liberty gets a makeover in "Spider-Man: No Way Home." These are the kind of details that connect the movies in minuscule but oddly weighty ways. I for one felt the flicker of recognition when the statue of liberty appeared in No Way Home and was pretty excited to remember Yelena's throwaway line about the renovation. Even better, who doesn't perk up at the sight of Peter Parker (Tom Holland) swinging past a poster advertising, "Rogers: The Musical." 

Does this mean that the duo was privy to any of the big swerves from "No Way Home"? Of course not! Bertie said:

"There's a need to know basis. Things like that, there may have been a slightly larger reference to it in the original scripts. We love knowing that stuff. 'Oh! That's so cool." Just how things weave together. That's one we were aware of."

Season 1 of "Hawkeye" is now streaming on Disney+.