The Adelaide-born actress is attracting the kind of buzz most expats only dream of. Here, she talks about living up to the hype and her adopted home of Los Angeles. Interview by Vanessa Lawrence.
Samara Weaving is the type of person who’d bristle at the word “journey”.
But if anyone’s been on one, it’s her. The 26-year-old niece of acclaimed Australian actor Hugo Weaving was born in Adelaide and raised all over Asia and Europe by her academic parents before spending four years on the fictional streets of Home and Away’s Summer Bay (like Isla Fisher and Chris Hemsworth before her). Since then she’s ping-ponged between Australia and the United States, officially relocating to Los Angeles after landing the lead role (of a murderous babysitter) in Netflix’s
2017 horror-comedy smash The Babysitter.
A buzz has trailed Weaving ever since, growing louder after her small but memorable part in the awards-season steamroller Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri opposite Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell. Then there was her on-point portrayal of an irritatingly perfect girlfriend in the breakout hit SMILF (the second season is currently in production), a raw and honest dramedy about a twentysomething single mum.
Later this year, Weaving will star as ill-fated schoolgirl Irma Leopold in the television adaptation of Australian classic Picnic at Hanging Rock alongside Game of Thrones alum Natalie Dormer – a series so hotly anticipated that it sparked a network bidding war in the US. On an increasingly rare visit home, Weaving took time out to dress up and talk shop.
You’ve become very visible very quickly…
Once I’d booked The Babysitter – which was on The Black List [a list of the most hyped but as-yet-unproduced scripts in Hollywood] for years – it felt like I finally had my foot in the door. I’ve been in the industry for 10 years and not having to jump through as many hoops when it comes to auditions is really refreshing.
What’s the hardest part about the path you’ve chosen?
An actor is a professional auditioner in a sense, constantly waiting for a “promotion”. I’ve seen so many talented people try to break through but for some reason, whether it’s bad luck or timing, never do. I’m so grateful that hasn’t been the case for me. You’ve played a satanic babysitter, trophy girlfriend and high-schooler in the past year.
How do you pivot between such different roles?
For a couple of weeks after I finish a job, my boyfriend will say, “Can you stop being so weird?” and I’m like, “I’m sorry, I’ve just spent four months playing an oppressed 16-year-old from the early 1900s [for Picnic at Hanging Rock]!” You really take on a character and I’m still learning how to shake it off afterwards. I call it the actor’s hangover.
Travelling as much as you do, what’s your best tip for beating jet lag?
The secret is an ice-cold ocean dip as soon as you get off the plane. It’s the first thing I do when I land in Australia. And never have caffeine on a flight, only water.
If you could take anything from Sydney back to LA, what would it be?
The beaches. I live in West Hollywood, which is about an hour away from the nearest beach when you take traffic into account. The trick is to make friends with people who have pools.
And if you could bring one thing from LA back to Sydney?
The night-life, because I love that you can walk around at midnight or after 2 o’clock in the morning and some of the best bars in town are still open.
What’s your favourite thing to do in LA?
See a film. This company [Cinespia] holds screenings at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. You pack a picnic and some drinks and watch a movie surrounded by gravestones, which is creepy but cool. They do all-night marathons, too.
And what would you recommend to a first-time visitor?
A visit to LACMA [the Los Angeles County Museum of Art] or The Getty Center, followed by an afternoon at Venice Beach. Riding the merry-go-round on the pier is too much fun.
Does LA feel like home now?
It does but I try to come back [to Australia] at least once or twice a year, otherwise I miss it. Once an Aussie, always an Aussie.