From 'Home and Away' to Hollywood: How Samara Weaving carved herself a niche in horror
The former Australian soap star is approaching Hollywood royalty status
Grace has had a tough life. She grew up shunted between foster homes and has never held down a job more glamorous than waitressing.
It’s not all bad, though – it was while working as a waitress that she met her fiance Alex, the heir to a huge gaming fortune, and as Ready or Not, which releases across the UAE on Thursday, begins to unfold, the pair are in the process of tying the knot in a plush ceremony.
It sounds like a dream come true, but there’s a snag. For Alex’s family, gaming isn’t just a business, it’s a way of life, and as midnight strikes, Grace – played by Samara Weaving – learns of a strange ritual that takes place on familial wedding nights: she’s going to have to play a game of hide-and-seek with her new in-laws. However, in this version, the game could perhaps be more appropriately titled hide-or-be-killed. If Grace makes it until morning, she’ll be welcomed into the family’s warm embrace. If not, she’ll be welcomed into death’s cold embrace. As annoying in-laws go, the Le Domas family set new standards.
Weaving, the Australian actress who first came to prominence playing Indi Walker in hit Australian soap opera Home and Away, appears to be carving a niche for herself in the horror market after her starring role in 2017’s The Babysitter.
The actress admits she’s a fan of the genre but in this film, she says, it’s about the laughs, too. “I love comedy/horror films and it’s a great story. There are scares, but it’s also very funny,” she tells The National. “We just couldn’t keep a straight face because we kept cracking each other up.
“One time it was 3am and we were shooting a tiny scene, which should have taken a maximum of 20 minutes. Mark [O’Brien, as Alex] and I were in a car and Mark was wearing a mask, which looks terrifying on screen, but close-up – I was 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.”
Weaving doesn’t only get to display her growing horror credibility and her comedy chops in Ready or Not. She also has a crack at her first full-on action role as she evades her murderous new family and their array of high-tech and low-tech weaponry – think The Hunger Games meets a poverty-stricken female-centric Get Out, and you’re on the right lines.
She admits the action was tough, but says she found the comedy the most challenging – and the most fun. “The action involved a lot of running and fighting, and I’m wearing a ripped wedding dress – it’s snowing outside at two in the morning. But that wasn’t the hard part for me,” she says. “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.”
You could reasonably ask why Grace has even entered this bizarre family in the first place, immense wealth notwithstanding, especially since they are clearly dysfunctional and creepy even before we get to their murderous family traditions. But like all good actresses, Weaving has her character’s motivations worked out.
“It’s the fact that she lacked a family herself as a child, together with the abandonment and trauma she’s experienced,” she says. “I am meeting my future family for the first time. The wedding is beautiful but a bit weird. But I’m so excited that I’m going to be a part of this great new family that nothing else matters.”
Weaving has some impressive fellow alumni from the Home and Away talent pool – Guy Pearce and Isla Fisher spring immediately to mind – though says landing a role in the TV show wasn’t premeditated.
“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,” she says. “Honestly, it was a fluke … [then] I remember loving drama at school. I said, ‘I’d like an agent,’ so [my parents] 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.”
Fluke or not, Weaving’s star is definitely in the ascendant – we already saw her playing Frances McDormand’s nemesis, the ditsy husband-stealer, Penelope, in the Oscar-nominated (and many would argue unfairly Best Film-denied) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Next up, we can expect to see her take a leading role in the eagerly anticipated sequel Bill and Ted Face the Music, playing Bill (Alex Winter)’s daughter Thea, named, of course, after his best friend Ted (Keanu Reeves). What can we expect next from Weaving’s steady, but apparently unstoppable, game plan to be the biggest Australian import to Hollywood since the likes of Margot Robbie and Nicole Kidman?
“I don’t even dare to do that, but I do have goals,” she says. “I know that there’s a big difference between being famous and being successful. I want to be successful – fame is so fickle. 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 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 across the UAE from August 22.
Updated: August 21, 2019 07:02 PM