With lead roles in Mayhem, The Babysitter, and new-to-theaters Ready or Not, Samara Weaving is becoming a leading lady of horror. But she's not interested in being just another scream queen. In her latest, the Aussie actress stars as a bullet-packing bride who must fight her in-laws in a wedding night ritual with life-or-death stakes. And while Weaving brings screams, she also brings plenty of badass attitude.
Created by Radio Silence (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, and Chad Villella), Ready or Not follows former foster kid Grace on what should be the happiest day of her life. She's marrying her handsome fiancé Alex Le Domas, which will win her the big family she always desired, not to mention part of the massive fortune of the Le Domas board game empire. There's just one hitch: to be accepted into this old-money clan, Grace must take part in a long-standing family tradition of a very special game night. By the bad luck of the draw, she pulls the "Hide and Seek" card, which sends her in search of a hiding place and the entire Le Domas family on a hunt for her head. The only way for Grace to win is to survive until sunrise — but her freshly minted in-laws are dedicated to seeing her lose and die.
Following Ready or Not's special advance screening at Fantasia International Film Festival, SYFY FANGRRLS sat down with Weaving to discuss her blood-splattered bride and that time she accidentally clocked co-star Andie MacDowell.
"I wanted to make sure that it wasn't going to be another sort of scream queen," Weaving said of her character, pointing out how Grace isn't one to scream and scurry. She's the kind of Final Girl who straps on sneakers and a shotgun to fight back. "I was talking to the guys about it, pitching them to make her really strong," Weaving explained. "She's not crying the whole time and hyperventilating. Instead, [we're] choosing those moments [of vulnerability] really carefully. Because otherwise, who wants to watch a chick just crying? You'd almost be like, 'Just kill her already!'"
Weaving noted that Grace's backstory sets her up as a "scrappy" survivor. "She's been in and out of foster homes," Weaving said. "I liked that little nugget of information and kind of ran with it." This was a major part of what drew her to the role. "She could really hold her own against these people," Weaving said, adding she was pleased with how the film "slowly shows the stages of her becoming more and more toughened and hardened."
Weaving does scream in Ready or Not. It is a horror movie, after all. But Weaving's screams feel less about fright and more like a primal language of rage and rebellion. Asked about how she came up with Grace's signature scream, Weaving said, "I didn't want to do the high pitch thing. Like, 'No, I'm in pain and oh, no!' I was like, 'Let's make it really guttural and ugly and messy.' And luckily I had a note that just came out. And I was like, 'Yeah, we'll go with that one.'"
Not everything on set came so easy. Weaving did some of her own stunts for the film — and while she took most of this in stride, she admitted to a striking mistake with the co-star who had her star-struck. Weaving was elated to work with Andie MacDowell, who plays Grace's mother-in-law with plenty of Southern charm, plus a ferocious loyalty to family tradition. In one scene, the two women battle over a family heirloom, a special box the size of a jewelry box. "She really threw herself into it," Weaving said of MacDowell's performance. Explaining where things went awry, Weaving said, "I have done so many stunts and I was really nonchalant, like, 'I've got this movie down.' And then after the first day, we were rehearsing (the fight scene) with Andie MacDowell. And I accidentally clocked her in the temple with the box!"
No serious damage was done, but Weaving's confidence was shaken. "I felt so bad," she shared. "It just crumbled all of my courage and that I could pull this off." And still ahead of her was a scene in which she has a fight with a little boy. Well, "fight" might be generous; Grace punches the kid full-on in the face. Having missed her mark in the MacDowell fight choreography, Weaving was nervous about this upcoming shoot day.
"We were filming with the young man and I have to make sure that my fist was nowhere near his head but close enough so it sold on camera," Weaving explained of the stunt. "And his parents were standing by watching. And I was just like, 'I don't want to punch this kid in the face. What if I hit him? What if I do another Andie MacDowell?!'"
Thankfully, Weaving hit her mark, which is to say she didn't hit the child actor. She didn't even curse at him, as Grace does in the film. Those bits were shot once the boy left the set. Her dialogue was made more child-friendly when he was present. "We were trying to keep him in the dark a little bit," she said. "You realize this is a tiny human. I don't want to traumatize him."
But considering the gleefully gory film she's headlining, Weaving is less worried about traumatizing the grown-ups who'll turn up for this R-rated horror-romp — and we wouldn't want it any other way. So strap in, because this game night is going to be a bloody good time.
Ready or Not is now in theaters.