For many, Samara Weaving may seem to have come out of nowhere. However, this Aussie actress has been quietly killing it in recent years with memorable roles like the titular character in Netflix’s The Babysitter, Penelope in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and Melanie Cross in Joe Lynch’s balls-to-the-wall office thriller, Mayhem. In the horror/thriller READY OR NOT, Weaving returns once again to the genre that has welcomed her with open arms as Grace, a bride who joins her new husband and his rich family in a time-honored tradition of playing a game to welcome a new member into the family. However, the game quickly turns into a fight for survival as Grace goes head-to-head with her in-laws in a lethal game of hide and seek. During our interview, we discussed everything from her fearlessness to wielding a wedding dress as a weapon to accidentally hitting Andie MacDowell with a stunt brick.
One thing I love about the roles you pick is that the characters are always so fearless, which I assume is just an extension of yourself. That said, what was it about Grace that interested you in the role?
Samara Weaving: She was the first protagonist that I played in this genre. Reading the script, it was a perfect script, it was funny, scary, and thrilling and the relationships of the characters were amazing. With Grace, I saw a lot of strength in her. The fact that she came from foster homes and was essentially an orphan, I saw a lot of strength in that survival instinct that came from a young age. When I spoke to Fox Searchlight and Radio Silence, the biggest thing for Grace was to really show that toughness, I didn’t want Grace to be another damsel in distress. I really wanted to show that fierceness so that it wasn’t an accident that she can take on these people. I wanted it to be a logical step for her and [everyone] really lent into that idea.
I think the believability of her skills really worked in the films favor as Grace doesn’t just become this super bad-ass out of nowhere.
Samara Weaving: Exactly. She’s in a house, this huge mansion, she doesn’t know how everything works so the [family] has that advantage but she has the advantage that they underestimate her.
In playing Grace it seemed like a lot of intense physicality was required. Was there anything in particular that you did to help prepare for that?
Samara Weaving: I was lucky, I did Guns Akimbo before I did this. Guns Akimbo we did four weeks of intense training cause that was much more physically demanding. We had a great stunt team for this film, though. In other films I’ve done they kind of come from a fighting background whereas this we wanted it to feel really human and that it was messy and you didn’t know if you were going to win or lose the fight. It was great that the dress came into it, the dress is a weapon and a first aid kit as well. The stunt team did a great job in orchestrating that.
Speaking of the dress, can you elaborate on what it was like to perform such physically demanding scenes while wearing a wedding dress?
Samara Weaving: Avery [Plewes], the costume designer, made the wedding dress way more comfortable than it looks (laughs). The corset was elastic so I could breath in it. We could also put heat packs down there because it was the middle of winter in Canada and snowing some days and we would have to be outside until 7 in the morning. The skirt was removable so if we had to do a quick change where we were going from a scene where it had to be clean to a scene where it was dirty we could just put a different skirt on it that had already been dressed. They were very clever with how they made the dresses. I could run easily [in it] and it didn’t really catch on much, but if it did, it kind of looked cool anyways. And we made it long sleeved and high-necked cause it was so cold. Also, visually, it looked great with the blood on it.
As a whole, the cast is relatively small so what was it like to work so closely with each other, especially knowing that their characters wanted to kill Grace?
Samara Weaving: It was so fun, so much fun. We have a text chain, we try to hang out as much as possible, and we had dinner and drinks every weekend. It was kind of hard, especially with Elyse [Levesque], who plays Charity Le Domas, and Adam [Brody], who plays Daniel Le Domas. We became friends and then shot our scenes towards the end of the filming time. I hadn’t had a lot of acting time with them so we were like, “Oh, we have to act together, this is exciting”. It was hard not to laugh, we had the giggles all the time (laughs).
The scenes you shot with Andie MacDowell, who plays matriarch Becky Le Domas (which you can read our interview here), were also really intense. What was that experience like?
Samara Weaving: We were so excited to have Andie MacDowell join the cast and our fight scene was the first day of shooting. We rehearsed it the day she landed, or the day after she landed, and we were rehearsing the fight and I accidentally hit her in the head with a stunt brick and she got a huge bruise on her head. When it happened everyone went so quiet because we didn’t how cool she was going to be, like she’s the best, but we didn’t know that at the time. I was afraid for my job, I was scared she was going to leave, but she was such a trooper. She just asked for some ice and then we rehearsed it again, which thank God because that could have gone very differently (laughs).
Lastly, what did you look forward to seeing most once the film wrapped?
Samara Weaving: I just loved watching everyone else because it was just so much fun to watch. A lot of the scenes I’m sort of just laying there on a table not saying much so I got to watch everyone do their scenes and it was so brilliant and so much fun!
READY OR NOT is now in theaters nationwide and you can read our spoiler-free review here.