You may not know Samara Weaving’s name just yet but you’re definitely about to, with the Australian actress set to break the box office in her new dark comedy thriller, Ready or Not.
Far from your average wedding flick, Ready or Not sees Grace (Weaving) marry into the Le Domas family, and forced as a result to play a high-stakes life or death game of hide and seek as part of a wedding night ritual.
With an all-star cast from Andie MacDowell to Adam Brody and enough dark comedy and gore to satisfy Quentin Tarantino, this slick thriller is not one to be missed. And did we mention – Samara plays the kick-ass heroine who leads the entire action film in her chic AF wedding dress?
But more about Samara Weaving. Marie Claire’s Digital Features Editor Jenny Proudfoot sat down with the actress to talk on-set camaraderie, the difference between fame and success and all things horror…
What drew you to the role of Grace?
I love the genre of comedy horror films and it’s a great story. There are scares, but it’s also very funny. It’s great psychologically, because you are always second-guessing what everyone’s thinking. The theme is interesting too; for me, it’s about the question “How well do you really know someone and, under pressure, what choices do you make?” Mark’s character (Grace’s husband Alex) has to decide between the love of his life and his loyalty to his family. There’s a rumour about a curse (on the family), which may or may not be true. Does he believe the curse is real? That will affect his choices.’
Was it challenging to play an action heroine?
The action involved a lot of running and fighting, and I’m wearing a ripped wedding dress in minus 20 degrees – it’s snowing outside at two in the morning. But that wasn’t the hard part for me. The real challenge was that the cast and crew couldn’t stop laughing in very serious, scary scenes; we were in hysterics the whole time!
What scenes did you find the funniest to film?
Well, it was one of the best productions I’ve been in, where everyone got along so well and we just couldn’t keep a straight face because we kept cracking each other up. For example, one time it was 3 a.m. and we were shooting a tiny scene, which should have taken max 20 minutes. Mark and I were in a car and Mark (as Alex) was wearing a mask, which looks terrifying on screen, but close up – I was standing two centimetres from his face – I could see he was trying not to laugh. We were hysterical; we could not stop for at least half an hour. Then, as we did more takes, the anticipation made it worse. When I knew he was going to look at me, I would laugh. The crew needed a good laugh too, but after half an hour they said “Could you please just get your shit together. Let’s do it!” That was the hardest scene to film, much harder than the action.
Who in the cast made you laugh the hardest?
There are so many funny moments. Some involve Melanie Scrofano, who plays Emilie Le Domas – she is trying to kill me, but she keeps killing the wrong person. She’s a brilliant actor, so funny. Adam Brody (who plays Daniel Le Domas) is so funny too.
You seem to have got really close with Andie MacDowell. What was it like working with her?
She’s amazing. Becky is evil, but she’s delicately evil. She genuinely sees herself in Grace at the beginning of the film – that’s how she was when she was younger. It’s not until Grace pulls that wrong card that it switches for Becky; she changes her attitude towards Grace, and for various reasons that we find out, she knows what has to be done … she thinks I need to die and that she has to be the one to do it! There is a great scene with Mark and Andie in the film, where she’s genuinely loving, but we also see how manipulative she is. Andie is hysterically funny, and she’s so sweet and surprising. We really connected.
Did you find filming a horror film in a mansion frightening?
It was spooky sometimes, especially at night when you hear creaks in the floor and you think: “Is that someone walking around or is that a ghost?” That’s especially true because of the nature of the film.
Did you play any games on set?
We did, because we were filming in two beautiful mansions – and on those locations you are sort of forced to all hang out in one room together. Sometimes on sets people like to go off and do their own thing – go to their trailer and read a book – but we all connected so much that everyone stayed in this room and hung out and played games.. I introduced people to backgammon. I’m a big backgammon player – I love it and I’ve got a couple of good sets.
This isn’t your first experience starring in a thriller. What’s the attraction?
I like doing them and my role in The Babysitter opened a lot of doors for me. Filmmakers in the genre gravitated towards me, because I think they thought I could do it well.
Why do people enjoy being terrified by films?
I think it’s partly because you are seeing these amazing stories that originated in someone’s imagination. It’s not escapism exactly, because you’re almost a part of the filmmaker’s experience when you are watching the film. You’re transported into another world. I like scary movies with comedy, when you have the adrenaline rush and the jump scares, and then you have that relief as well.
What are your favourite horror films?
Personally, the horror movies I really enjoy are from the 80s, like the Freddy Krueger [A Nightmare on Elm Street] films. My fiancé, [writer/producer] Jimmy Warden, loves the genre and sat me down and we watched all the 80s classics together. I like the ones with weird monsters that look a bit like puppets but I’m sure were terrifying at the time they came out. Films like Carrie and IT are too scary for me. I like the horror comedy genre films like The Cabin in the Woods, where the tension is broken by laughs. It’s the same with dramas; I like the relief provided by comedy. I worked on Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and, in that film, you’re about to cry and then you find yourself laughing. That’s because Martin McDonagh is the most amazing screenwriter and filmmaker and he can weave that fine line between drama and comedy.
What got you into acting?
We moved around a lot throughout my childhood because of my parents’ work. As a child, I was very shy and such an introvert, and it was hard for me because we were moving around all the time. My parents put me into a drama class when I was about five years old to bring me out of my shell. There was something so freeing for me right away about being on stage. For my first role I played the Grinch, which was funny. Everyone was quite shocked at the performance asking: “Who is this tiny little shy child suddenly transforming into this over-the-top character?” Drama became really important to me.
How did you get into film and TV?
[My parents] have been so supportive. I am the luckiest person I know. Honestly, it was a fluke. I remember loving drama at school. I think my dad thought: ‘Oh all right, we’ll play with the idea.’ I said: ‘I’d like an agent,’ so they arranged a meeting, thinking nothing would probably happen. But I got an agent when I was 13 and then straight away I got an audition for a show called Out of the Blue and then the role in Home and Away.
Do you have a plan for the future?
I don’t even dare to do that. But I do have goals. I know that there’s a big difference between being famous and being successful. I want to be successful, fame is so fickle – and, in terms of roles, I want to do things that challenge and scare me. What I learned from Home and Away was that playing the same role [Indi Walker] for three years, you get to know the character and then you’re itching to do something new, something different, and you learn from every experience – and that’s what I want to do, keep learning.
Ready or Not is in cinemas from 25th September.