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[This story contains spoilers for Ready or Not]
Samara Weaving’s star is on the rise. After two lead roles in The Babysitter and Mayhem, the Australian actor was offered her first starring role as a protagonist in Ready or Not, the new horror-comedy from Fox Searchlight, the same studio that worked with Weaving on Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Weaving plays Grace, a newlywed in the crowd-pleasing horror film, who fights for survival during a deadly game of hide-and-seek at the affluent home of her in-laws, the Le Domas family
As moviegoers buzz about the film’s wild ending, Weaving explains why she was glad to shoot that part of the film first.
“Looking back, we were so exhausted by the end of the shoot. I’m glad we got the high-energy scenes done first,” Weaving tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We were shooting in these very elaborate mansions, and we couldn’t get anything on the walls, floor or anything that was there. So they had to put so many plastic sheets down, and they had to do plate shots before they brought in the blood and removed the person … It also broke the ice with the cast — to see everyone covered in goo. (Laughs.)”
The final line of the movie also evokes quite a reaction from audiences, however, Weaving admits she was skeptical at first.
“I stupidly thought, ‘Oh, is it too cheesy?’ but it really worked,” Weaving explains.
In a recent conversation with THR, Weaving discusses her preparation for Ready or Not, her memories from the set of Three Billboards as well as her reaction to her time on Bill & Ted Face the Music.
Because Grace’s wedding dress is a character in and of itself, has your taste in wedding dresses changed after this experience?
(Laughs.) I always imagined I’d get married in a red dress. So, the white dress was already off the table.
The costume department had 17 wedding dresses on hand just for you as well as 17 dresses for your double and another 17 for your stunt performer. Did you end up wearing all 17 dresses?
Yeah, I think we used all of them. It was quite cool seeing them on the rack in the wardrobe department. You could see the story in the dresses … chapter one, chapter two … and it just gets crazier and crazier and grosser and grosser.
Is one of the 17 dresses in your closet at home?
No! I don’t know where they are. I know [co-director] Matt [Bettinelli-Olpin] took my shoes, but I’m definitely gonna need memorabilia. (Laughs.)
You come from an artistic family. Can you ever remember a time where you weren’t headed in the direction of acting?
I think it was one of those things where I was always performing to my family. When I started school, I was sort of shy, so my parents put me in drama school to help with that. There was never a lightbulb moment of “Oh, this is what I want to do.” It was almost a coping mechanism; it’s kind of like therapy for me. (Laughs.) I don’t remember ever questioning it, but then again, I don’t remember ever making a conscious decision to do it either.
Because you moved around a lot as a child, did you immediately seek out an acting community in order to make each transition a bit easier?
Totally. If not me, my parents would — to try and help. And it always did.
Ready or Not is about an unusual family tradition, which is the understatement of the year. Did you have any family traditions growing up that you consider to be unusual?
(Laughs.) Around the holidays, my parents would throw a party, and they would play that game … It’s got a bunch of names, but I think the most well-known one is Kris Kringle. Everyone brings a present, and you can steal them off each other. I remember being a little kid, watching the adults do it, and then, as a teenager, we were allowed to play. That’s always been a staple in the Weaving household.
Since Ready or Not puts you and your character through the wringer, what was your favorite set piece to shoot?
The whole thing was so much fun. The cast and crew were so much fun. I think my favorite is the scene where we all get to be in the same room as each other; it’s when Grace is being introduced to the family. That was so much fun because we were just joking around and having a blast. I’m sure it was super annoying to some ADs trying to wrangle us all together.
I just asked Adam Brody this very same question, so I’m definitely curious about your take. Before the wedding, Grace mentioned how Daniel hit on her. Do you think Daniel did this by design in order to create a scene and hopefully postpone the wedding for the sake of Grace and Alex’s well-being?
Oh, wow! That’s good. Why not? I didn’t think of that, but it makes sense. Yeah, he was trying to sabotage it.
You shot the explosive ending first. Even though production is often non-linear, is it all the more challenging to film the climax at a time when you’re just getting to know the character?
It was actually a relief. Looking back, we were so exhausted by the end of the shoot. I’m glad we got the high-energy scenes done first. Also, they were really technical. There was a lot of waiting around. We were shooting in these very elaborate mansions, and we couldn’t get anything on the walls, floor or anything that was there. So, they had to put so many plastic sheets down, and they had to do plate shots before they brought in the blood and removed the person. It was all very technical, so I’m glad we did that first. It also broke the ice with the cast — to see everyone covered in goo. (Laughs.)
Later in production, did you reference the dailies from the very beginning of the shoot just to make sure that your performance was in alignment?
In my preparation, I’d written the arc of the character on my script, so I was pretty certain where I was gonna go. But, we did a few different versions of Grace’s reaction to [the ending]. They had all the bases covered, but I’m glad they went with the laughter. I thought that might be too much of a risky move, but I’m glad they liked it.
Since you got to improvise a little bit, is there a particular line or bit of business that you were happy to see in the final cut?
Probably the slew of slurs I say at a passing car that doesn’t stop. I think it was four in the morning, and I just said every bad word I could think of and rolled with it. (Laughs.)
Your final line got quite the reaction at my screening. How many takes did that require?
Quite a few. It’s the big camera push if I remember correctly, and the police are coming down … So, we had to get the timing right with the cigarette and the shot. So, it was maybe five or six takes.
While unnecessary, did you try any other final lines, or was it always that line?
Yeah. I stupidly thought, “Oh, is it too cheesy?” but it really worked.
My audience really loved Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni) and how she’d glare at Grace. Did you break at least once during the filming of those moments?
Oh, totally. She was hysterical, but also really scary. Nicky is so lovely, beautiful and kind-hearted, but when she turned into Aunt Helene, it was really terrifying. I was just playing the truth of that scene. She really could throw daggers at you. It’s hysterical onscreen, but right in front of you, it’s quite terrifying.
Did you get a chance to pick Andie MacDowell’s brain a little bit?
We’d go out for dinners and drinks. We just had so much fun on set. She really helped me a lot with my anxiety. She has really beautiful things to say about that. She’d always make me feel really good about myself. I think she’s so intuitive and maybe an empath like I am. She could tell when I was feeling anxious and just knew the right things to say and what to do.
What comes to mind when you think of Three Billboards?
It was a surreal couple of weeks. Meeting legends like that, going to dinner with John Hawkes and picking his brain about Deadwood … was so much fun. I was really anxious, excited and nervous, especially when I’m playing a character like that in front of Frances McDormand. There are no words … I’m very, very lucky.
Fox Searchlight also made that movie. Did your existing relationship with them help you land Ready or Not?
I have no idea, but I’m glad that they sent the script to me and wanted me to do it.
Lastly, I have to ask you about Thea Preston and Bill & Ted Face the Music. What adjectives would you use to describe Thea and the overall experience?
I think the go-to adjective is “excellent!” (Laughs.)
Have you wrapped as Thea?
I’m done. I think they’re still filming, but I finished on Saturday morning. [Editor’s Note: This interview took place on August 20.]
Ready or Not is now in theaters.
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