The next big thing talks about her brilliant new film, the Bill & Ted sequel, and actually feeling pain from fake wounds.
If you didn’t already know by now, Ready or Not is a great film and a hell of a good time at the movies. A lot of that’s because of star Samara Weaving, who’s crushed it in supporting roles in a bunch of black comedies before, and, as Grace, finally has a chance to let loose and show what she’s made of. If this movie doesn’t turn her into a legitimate star, I don’t know what will.
Weaving’s already had some pretty big roles (like Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri for starters), but all the same, the 27-year-old Australian still seems taken with the attention Ready or Not has gotten, and more specifically, gotten her. GQ spoke to our new favorite actor about acting opposite legends like Andie MacDowell and Frances McDormand, how Ready or Not subverts horror tropes, and booking a role in the new Bill & Ted sequel despite having never seen any of the others. Spoilers ahead.
GQ: How are you feeling about the initial response to the movie?
Samara Weaving: It’s great. At first I was really nervous, just praying that the audience responds well to it and it was exactly what I’d hoped for and more. [At the premiere] everyone laughed at the right places and freaked out at the right places. I think we pulled it off.
Talk to me about Grace as a character. By virtue of the story, she’s set in a “final girl” mold, but she’s not totally invincible or even all that smart at times. There’s room in the film for her to be silly and fuck up.
Yeah, I think that was the aim. We tried to make sure that any time she survives it wasn’t too miraculous. Her background just means her fight or flight response really kicks in. It’s believable since she was growing up in and out of foster care. The unraveling of the family, being that some of them are just bumbling idiots, is a factor, too.
When I met with the filmmakers, they really took all my ideas and collaborated with me on the character. There needs to be trust, and they were trustworthy. I felt comfortable talking with them and taking turns taking Grace into their own hands, then my hands, then theirs. And I think, yes, I’m really proud of how they edited the film together and I think they just did such an amazing job.
Sounds like you were kind of protective of her from the beginning.
I just really love her. I didn’t want it to just be this accident that she survives these big moments—she has to fight for that.
There’s that big moment where she tears off her wedding dress and slings on those shotgun shells, and then the gun doesn’t work; that’s kind of poking fun at those “immediate transformation into a badass” some survival horrors do.
Yeah, that was fun to do. I don’t know how much I can say about the outcomes of things yet, but like, with the gun in the display case we turn things on their head.
I don’t think we should take this film too seriously, but it really plays with a lot of class anxiety. That feels like a big issue right now. Right?
Totally. The Le Domases live in their own bubble and Grace essentially punctures that bubble. Even the name, Le Domas, come on.
I remember liking Mayhem, too. These are both very bloody, violent films. A lot of actors hate working with fake blood.
It’s very syrupy. It’s kind of delicious when it gets in your mouth, but getting it in your hair sucks. You’re just getting progressively more uncomfortable and sticky through the day.
I can handle any kind of gore, for the most part, but something that still gets me is a nail through a hand or a foot.
Oh yeah, I can’t watch that.
How’d you pull that scene off in the film?
It was a CGI nail, I just slammed my palm down. It took a while, though, because it was a prosthetic hand [editor’s note, and also a spoiler: Grace is shot in the palm in an earlier scene]. What’s weird is you get this… placebo pain when you have a prosthetic because you’re looking at it and your brain is telling you that… that’s not right. I had like this ghost hand pain. In the scene after, when I had to pull the sleeve over the prosthetic and wrap it up, it genuinely hurt.
I haven’t heard of that before. Do other actors get that?
I don’t know! In Ash vs. Evil Dead there’s a bit with my shin bone sticking out of my leg and I was limping around the set.
I have to say, getting to bash people’s heads in and scream at the top of your lungs as a job sounds like it would be better than therapy some days.
I get anxious around the choreography and trying not to actually hit the other person, so the therapeutic part comes in ADR where they need you to scream for 10 minutes straight. It’s like a weight’s been lifted off.
Between this and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, is it ever intimidating to have these amazing, legendary actors like Frances McDormand or Andie MacDowell look you in the eye and just say really vicious, mean shit to you?
Frances and Andie are, obviously, such wonderful human beings. They both made me feel so comfortable in our scenes. Frances would invite us out for a drink after work, it was lovely, like a family. Same with Andie McDowell. The whole cast and crew, we’d go out for dinner and have cocktails, having like really late nights telling stories and keeping each other occupied while the crew was setting up the next scene. With a film like this, you really get to know each other.
Your next big film is Bill & Ted Face the Music. You must have watched those movies growing up. It must have felt amazing to get cast.
Honestly, I had no idea about those films. My dad’s British and I guess I just never had access to those films, but when I got the audition my fiancé jumped out of his seat and was like, “oh my god, you’ve got to get this role!” He’s a huge fan, and he helped me get into the character. I play Bill’s daughter, so I didn’t know much going in.
Anything else you want to tell me before we go? How should people get ready for Ready or Not?
I don’t think they will be.