Born in Adelaide, her father Simon Weaving, a filmmaker and academic, her uncle Hugo Weaving, one of Australia’s great actors, it was almost inevitable that Samara Weaving would end up in front of the camera.
“I grew up in Asia, and I didn’t move back to Australia until I was 13,” she tells us about her early years in Fiji, Indonesia, Singapore and a short stint in Italy. “My mum’s a curator, she has a PhD in Peranakan art. Museums would hire her to help with understanding Peranakan art.
“I think the first film I remember watching in a cinema was Pirates of the Caribbean, because we finally found a theatre with English speaking movies. [Otherwise] I would watch film noir with dad that he had on DVD.”
Did you watch your uncle, Hugo Weaving’s movies?
I was a little too young to watch his films. I think I was 13 when I watched Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and I was like, ‘Wait a minute. Oh, he does … Oh, okay.’ And then people were like, ‘You know you look like your uncle?’ And I was like, ‘How do you know who he… ?’ But yeah, I was in my own bubble until I was old enough to watch his films, and he’s amazing.
What was your trajectory like in Australia?
I did a series called Out of the Blue, and then I think an agency saw me on that, and I was with an under-18 agency. And then got Home and Away, which is a breeding ground for actors. I worked with Luke Mitchell, Tessa James, Rebecca Breeds and Charles Cottier, my favourite human being in the world.
You live in LA now, was there a particular point that you did that?
After The Babysitter, my team and I, we talked about it, and they said, ‘You’ve got to be here’. When you’re starting out, a lot has to do with being in the room to meet people and meet directors and casting directors. Doing it over Skype or FaceTime, you’re just afraid that they’ll forget you and go and meet someone in person. And you build relationships that way.
Do you have an Aussie crew in Los Angeles that you hang out with?
Margot [Robbie] and I, our husbands met a while ago, and she loves to host things, so I go around there all the time. We had a fun Game of Thrones screening, it was great, all dressed up. It was fun.
Do you believe that everybody needs to have luck at the beginning, to be in the right place in the right moment?
Yeah, I play backgammon, and think it’s a little bit like that. It’s 70% skill and the rest is luck.
You’ve done quite a few horror shows and films, is that conscious thing?
Not really. I was auditioning from Australia six years ago, and I booked The Babysitter, which was shot in LA. And that was my door opening to the industry in America. The Babysitter was a genre film aimed at a much younger audience, and after that the offers that I got were all in the same vein. I was lucky enough to mix it up with projects like Picnic at Hanging Rock and doing Bill & Ted, and I did a lot of other shows and stuff to cleanse the palate if you will.
Was playing a strong character in Ready or Not important to you?
Definitely. I read the script, and I had some ideas about Grace. I didn’t want her to be stereotypical like a lot of horror damsel in distress type characters. I really wanted to bring … especially in the script, there’s the idea that she came from foster parents and was an orphan and in and out of foster care. I thought, ‘Oh, well, she would know how to handle herself. She’s probably had to fight a couple times.’ And working with my drama coach, Leigh Kilton-Smith, and working with Radio Silence, and Fox Searchlight, making sure that she was strong and that she really could fend for herself. It wasn’t like a lot of other films in that genre. It’s like, ‘Oh, by accident she just happened to know where to go, and she happened to find an escape route.’ I wanted her to be quite logical and definitely go from shock and fear to determination and an anger, which I think brings a lot of the comedic aspects into it.
Your screaming is pretty good.
It’s hard because you can’t practice screaming, especially in a hotel room, because people will think something’s going on. But I definitely wanted it to be a primal scream and more guttural than a shrill … And luckily, I scream like that.
I thought it was really nice and a pleasant surprise that the wedding dress was high-necked, that it wasn’t exploitative.
It was very cold in Canada. It was snowing some days, so I’m grateful that it was high-necked too, because we could shove beige coloured warm pads in… The dress is a weapon at one point, it’s a first-aid kit. I think they wanted the visual with the red on white to look really cool, and that’s why they did the lace up to the neck.
It’s also a relationship movie, almost like a breakup movie basically.
Sure. Marriage, and then divorce. I think that’s what makes the film so great is that it’s not black-and-white. It’s got a real human nature. They’re constantly going in two directions the whole time, especially Mark [O’Brien] and Adam’s [Brody] characters. And then there’s the other side of the spectrum with the other characters. And even Andie McDowell’s character, she desperately doesn’t want to have to kill her, but duty calls.
Do you think that there’s also some social commentary in this film? It’s a filthy rich family and you are the working class…
Yeah, it’s definitely a comment on the 1%. I love how they’re ashamed and very mysterious about how they came into money, and they have this strange pride in it that you definitely shouldn’t, and just how arrogant they are about getting the job done. And seeing them unravel throughout it, it’s somewhat satisfying.
Coming up, you star alongside Daniel Radcliffe in Guns Akimbo. Did you grow up with Harry Potter, and was it weird working with Daniel?
I have a tattoo of the Deathly Hallows on my ankle, it’s a cat. I’m thinking about getting a mouse running away… I hid it for two weeks; we had to do stunt training for four weeks. And I wore really long socks for two weeks, and then one day, I forgot. And luckily, Daniel and I were getting along by then. He’s like, ‘Is that the Deathly Hallows?’ I was like, ‘It’s not about you, okay? It’s about J.K. Rowling.’
Ready or Not is in cinemas October 24, 2019