Australian actor Samara Weaving has slowly been making her way up the ladder with bigger roles each year. In the last couple years, she had key roles in Joe Lynch’s Mayhem and then in the popular Netflix thriller The Babysitter.
In Ready or Not, Weaving plays Grace, a young woman who has just married into a wealthy board game family. Her initiation into this family is their tradition of playing a game after midnight, which turns out to be far more nefarious than a simple game of “Hide and Seek.”
If you’ve seen the trailer, you only know half of what Weaving’s character is put through, as she’s being chased through this enormous mansion by her fiancé’s family – while still wearing her wedding dress, no less.
The Beat got on the phone with Ms. Weaving earlier this week for the following interview where we also touched upon her knowledge of Bill and Ted, since she’s appearing in Bill and Ted Face the Music, the sequel to a movie that came out before she was born!
THE BEAT: How did you first hear about this project [i.e.Ready or Not]? Did the filmmakers already know your work in Mayhem, The Babysitter or other things? Did you audition?
Samara Weaving: I think it was Three Billboards, I worked with Fox Searchlight. I had a small role in Three Billboards, and theycame to me with a script and I read it. It’s really hard to get that genre right, and it was there on the page. Then I met with Radio Silence and Fox Searchlight – they were really collaborative with my ideas and were really lovely gents and I said, “Yes” cause I wanted to do it.
THE BEAT: Do you know if the Radio Silence guys had seen Mayhem or The Babysitter at that point?
Weaving: I’m sure they did their research. I’m sure they did, and I’m pretty sure they did. I can’t remember.
THE BEAT: What was your impression of the script? Obviously, there’s a lot of crazy stuff that Grace gets put through, but you’ve made other genre movies so did you think you could handle whatever was thrown at you?
Weaving: (laughs) Yeah, the script, it was a really good sign that I read it really quickly. Sometimes, if it’s a struggle to read, it’s probably not good. I read it very quickly and the suspense built that there wasn’t a bad beat or a boring moment in the script, and it definitely isn’t on the screen either, so the guys really delivered. I just really enjoyed reading it, and I was really drawn to play the protagonist for once. (laughs) I’ve always been the bad guy, so it was refreshing to play the good guy…or good gal.
THE BEAT: The movie has such a distinctive tone. Was that hard to pull off on set or did you do a lot of rehearsal beforehand or table reads?
Weaving: Did we have a table read? Sorry, my memory is shocking. I’m sure we did, right? Yeah, we must have. I don’t really remember being worried about the tone. I think on set you can really just feel it. It was a perfect mix of really character-based actors who really went 100% and more of the straight actors – it was a perfect combination, and I think all of those ingredients, including the script and direction. It all came out perfectly, we’re very lucky.
THE BEAT: The relationship Grace and Alex’s family is so contentious, so when you’re not filming, is everyone able to turn it off or do some of them have to stay in character. It must be a strange environment on that movie when you’re not filming.
Weaving: No, no, it was so much fun! We were just goofing around all the time. We were in hysterics most of the time, playing games, and yeah, just being goofy. (laughs) One of the hardest things was keeping a straight face during those scenes.
THE BEAT: What’s it like working with Radio Silence, which is a directing collective? Do they each have specific roles?
Weaving:They’re a great team. They were telling me that they’ve been working together since college or maybe even before, because they really work well, and they know how to work on a set really well together. They don’t get in each other’s way. Matt [Bettinelli-Olsen], his role, or at least it seemed like it – I’m sure when they got home they discuss everything – but on set, Matt works with the actors and Tyler [Gillett] works with the cameras and the more technical side. It was kind of great ‘cause sometimes as directors, they’re talking to the DOP and trying to figure out the lighting, and you want to talk to them about the scene, so it was great because Tyler could go work on the technical stuff and Matt could really discuss the scene, and we can try out different things while we were waiting.
THE BEAT: I saw this a while ago, and I can’t remember where it got posted, but I think the costume designer posted a picture of Grace’s wedding dress…
Weaving: I think that it’s the video, that Avery [Plewes] was talking about it, yeah.
THE BEAT: Maybe it was a video, but I saw it and almost responded, “That dress is going to get completely destroyed and stained throughout the whole movie…” How did she feel about that? I assume she had multiple dresses made in case you needed to go back to shoot an earlier scene?
Weaving: Yeah, there were a lot of wedding dresses. I don’t know how many we had but it was over ten wedding dresses made, and then we had doubles and stunt doubles as well. Avery had planned the various stages of disarray on the dress, so you could sort of see the story in the dresses.
THE BEAT: I felt so bad while watching this movie for what they put you through. I don’t want to spoil anything but particularly the “goat pit.” As an actor, is it fun doing that sort of stuff?
Weaving: Yeah, really fun. It’s kind of cathartic in a strange way, screaming for hours on end. You have a really good night’s sleep when you get home. Yeah, that was fun. It was really technical. I was on wires for the fall and then getting out, I was on wires the whole time. I got knocked out really hard, but it was quite comfortable. They were stuffed fake goats, and there weren’t bugs and stuff. They added that in post. I was just having a little nap and then I would scream occasionally.
THE BEAT: Was the movie mostly shot in one location or was the mansion exteriors and interiors different places?
Weaving: We had two locations. There was the Parkwood Estate and Casa Loma College in Toronto, those two locations, and then Parkwood Estate was the set for the “Billy Madison” movie which is kind of a cool fact. The exterior was on the grounds of the Parkwood Estate. You can ask the guys but I think the goat pit, they rigged that up… we filmed in a barn with the goats, that was fun, and then when I was inside the pit, I think they built that separately.
THE BEAT: I was mainly curious if they were able to shoot in any kind of order, because when you have different locations, you have to shoot on each location, but when you have one big place, theoretically you can shoot at least your stuff in some sort of order. I wondered if they were able to do that.
Weaving: No, I don’t think I’ve done a single film or series or any job that was filmed in order. I think we shot the ending on Day 2 or something.
THE BEAT: Oh, wow. You have some other fun-sounding movies coming up, also from writer-directors and I guess they’re all sort of independent movies, so is that something you’re drawn to?
Weaving: Sure. I think I did The Babysitter, and a lot of those genre film directors saw that, and I’m lucky enough that they want to put me in their films. As an actor, you want to try different things and different genres, so I’m excited to… I just finished Bill and Ted, which is great. I probably can’t talk about, but I’m doing some different things. I loved doing Picnic at Hanging Rock, which was a period piece series. I’m kind of branching out a bit.
THE BEAT: Was that based on the famed Australian movie?
Weaving: Yes, based on the Aussie book, it was a remake. They did the film in the ‘80s, and this was a mini-series, and it was great to work at home.
THE BEAT: How surreal was it doing Bill and Ted? Because it was 28 years since the last movie. I’m not sure how old you are and I’m not going to ask…
Weaving: It was 32 years ago, and I wasn’t born, but I had lots of friends who had seen them. I hadn’t. My fiancé was with me when I got the audition Email, and he started talking like Bill and Ted and doing the voice and really freaking out about it. I was laughing at him and was wondering what was going on. He watched the movie with me, and they’re so great and so much fun. They really are like that cult hit and a classic. It’s a little nerve-wracking, because I’m sure the fans are really anticipating it. You want to live up to their expectations.
THE BEAT: I spoke to Jillian Bell a few weeks ago, and she’s also in it, so do you have any scenes with her?
Weaving: Oh, no, I haven’t! I’ve seen her picture up in the make-up truck but we didn’t cross paths.
THE BEAT: I think she’s also about your age, but she grew up on Bill and Ted with the videos and on cable constantly. It’s an interesting phenomenon.
Weaving: Yeah, I think also, in Australia it doesn’t have as much of a following but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I just live in a bubble. (laughs) I’m not sure. But now I’m very aware of it.
THE BEAT: A lot of Australian actors I’ve spoken to say that they’ve perfected their American accents their whole lives because they watch American television and movies, and that’s very common.
Weaving: Yeah, 100%.
THE BEAT: I want to ask about this show “Home and Away,” because I’ve talked to a bunch of actors who have been on that show. I’ve never seen it. I know it’s been on for decades. I feel a lot of Australian actors come through that experience doing that show. Do you still draw from what you learned doing that show?
Weaving: Not really. I think especially the actor out of school, I auditioned for it very young, and it’s one of two soap operas there and it’s good work. It seems like everyone has done it, and I think it’s also, they haven’t seen it in the States but they recognize the name. Not that that was the plan or anything, but I definitely notice that pattern as well.
Ready or Not is now playing nationwide. Look for my interview with the filmmaking team known as “Radio Silence” very soon.