FROM SUMMER BAY TO HOLLYWOOD: MEET SAMARA WEAVING – THE YOGI, ARTIST AND TEA JUNKIE LIGHTING UP A SCREEN NEAR YOU
Three billboards wouldn’t be enough to say how much we love this gal!
WWhen 26-year-old Samara Weaving was cast as Penelope in acclaimed film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, she did a double take. “I feel like a fraud,” she laughs. “I see the list of names – Woody Harrelson, Frances Mcdormand, Peter Dinklage – and I’m like, ‘Surely they made a mistake.’” A mistake? No chance. This Adelaidean has come a long way since her Home and Away days, where she played the character Indi Walker for four years. On Weaving’s CV now: in addition to Three Billboards (which was nominated for seven Oscars), you’ll see 2017 horror flicks Mayhem and The Babysitter, and a part in hit US TV comedy SMILF, not to mention the role of Irma Leopold in the eagerly awaited remake of Picnic at Hanging Rock, airing on Foxtel in May. She may have acting in her blood (her uncle is Hugo Weaving), but it’s clear this girl is making her own mark on Hollywood. We phoned now-la-based Weaving, who also stars in the 2018 campaign for iconic Aussie clothing brand Bonds, to talk about female empowerment, bucket lists and how she stays zen on set.
LET’S START WITH FITNESS. WHAT’S YOUR APPROACH?
I don’t get obsessive about it; I just listen to my body. I know that sounds cheesy but you can tell when your body needs a good workout – it’s so good for your mind and wellbeing. I just feel like a newborn baby after a good workout! I have scoliosis [a curvature of the spine] so my back can get quite sore. I don’t go to the gym or do heavy weights, and I can’t really run anymore, but I find yoga and pilates really helpful.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU HIT THE YOGA MAT?
When I’m not working, maybe three times a week. I go to this place in LA called Modo Yoga [ed’s note: there are studios in Sydney]. It’s not Bikram, but it’s still in a heated room. It’s got a really good meditative aspect to it, so that helps when I’m feeling stressed about a bad day. Or, if there’s a lot going on, I can escape for an hour and settle my mind. Then when I’m working, I don’t exercise as much; I try to rest as much as I can. I take a yoga mat with me because you can do yoga anywhere, like in a hotel room. It usually ends up just sitting in a corner gathering dust, to be honest. But at least I tried!
ARE YOU A FOODIE?
I try to be. But then at some restaurants, I have to ask the waiter what every second word means on the menu. I grew up a lot in Asia so I love ramen, Thai food and sushi. They remind me of living there.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR DAY ON A PLATE...
I have a small breakfast of tea and fruit – or, if I’m on holiday, my favourite is eggs Benedict – and then lunch around 12pm. If I’m at home, I make a big salad with Spanish rice, rocket, parmesan, shallots, capsicum and sometimes I put some chicken or whatever in. But at work [on set] there are caterers, so it’s hard to resist the temptation of the delicious food! I’ll have a heavier meal for dinner because I have trouble sleeping and being full actually helps me sleep. I don’t go on forceful diets where you have to eliminate everything, because as soon as someone says I can’t have something, that’s all I want to eat.
WHAT ARE YOUR #1 ENERGY BOOSTERS?
I don’t drink coffee, because it makes me crash really hard at
2pm or 3pm. I’m a big tea drinker – I’ve found the most amazing vanilla chai – so I have three or four cups during the day and that keeps me going. And water. I find that I don’t dip in energy at all if I make the effort to keep my hydration up.
WHAT ELSE HELPS YOU FEEL AT THE TOP OF YOUR GAME?
I’m a terrible person if I don’t have enough sleep. I become the kraken! And then I think it’s about managing stress as much as possible, trying to find joy in stressful situations. When you’re in a state of mind where you are resisting work, or you really don’t want to do something, if you try to change your attitude it helps a lot with your energy levels. Like, ‘I’m doing my taxes for four hours, so I’ll try to make a game out of it.’
YOU COME FROM AN ACTING DYNASTY! DID THAT INSPIRE YOU?
It’s funny, I was talking to my cousin recently – he’s an actor too – and we both [were saying] how we chose the same paths without ever really having a conversation [about it]. It must be a genetic thing. We’re always aware of our family being creative, but it wasn’t like, ‘My uncle is an amazing actor; I wanna be like that.’ I was living overseas and was a bit too young when The Matrix
[which Hugo Weaving starred in] came out, so I didn’t realise what an iconic Australian actor he was. I just started doing little plays and theatre stuff. It’s a funny coincidence.
THE PAST 12 MONTHS HAVE BEEN MASSIVE CAREER-WISE. WAS THERE A HIGHLIGHT?
Working on Picnic at Hanging Rock, because it’s such an iconic Australian tale. To be part of that whole world was a pinch-myself moment. Wearing the corsets, and doing so much research into how women behaved and thought at that time, and how people treated them. And the crew and cast were just incredible. And then working with Martin Mcdonagh [who directed Three Billboards] was just the most surreal thing in the world. I’ve been a fan since seeing his plays in London, and Seven Psychopaths and In Bruges are two of my favourite films. I was like, ‘Really?
Me? Are you sure you don’t need to call them again and double-check?’
WOULD YOU LIKE TO DIRECT OR PRODUCE?
I think it’s one of those industries where you can have goals for sure, but you can’t really plan anything. Opportunities fall into your lap and you have to seize them. I’m interested in directing and producing, and I really love writing, so hopefully I can explore those avenues a little bit down the way. At the moment, I’m just taking it day by day, because as an actor you just never know what’s going to happen.
WHAT ELSE IS ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?
I like projects that kind of terrify me, because that means I’m going to learn something. I’d love to play someone based on a real character, like Marilyn Monroe or Princess Diana. That would be incredible.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR ROLE ON SMILF
We’re doing season two this year, which will be fantastic. It’s such a wonderful job to be a part of. I had never been on a set where the women were holding the cameras, the women were directing, the women were producing. There’s so much female empowerment on that set. I think I actually cried one day, because normally when you’re having a discussion about a theme [in a show], you’re the only woman in the conversation. But I looked up and every single person in that [particular] conversation was a woman. That had never happened [to me] before.
WHAT DOES BEING A STRONG WOMAN MEAN TO YOU?
I think a strong woman is someone who isn’t afraid of their femininity, and who uses that as a strength rather than trying to play against being a woman. With the environment in LA and all over the world at the moment, there are women who are really speaking up and not putting up with bullshit anymore... It’s really brave and powerful and strong.
AUSSIES ARE TAKING HOLLYWOOD BY STORM. WHY IS THAT?
From what I’ve heard, Australians are just hard workers and they put the effort in. Once you make the move over [to LA], you have to work twice as hard, because essentially you’re starting from scratch all over again. I think you can really see that Australian work ethic over here.
YOU’VE WORKED WITH BONDS SINCE 2012. WHAT’S IT LIKE TEAMING UP WITH SUCH A BIG BRAND?
It’s fantastic. They have a real family vibe going on, and they’re so much fun to work with. I just love supporting an Australian brand. Bonds works with so many cool people – models and artists and singers and dancers. It’s wonderful that they want to work with talented people. It gives them a lot of edge.
DO YOU CONSIDER LA HOME NOW?
I do, but I moved around so much as a kid – we’d move every two years – so I don’t think I have that much trouble making somewhere that’s new and exciting a home. Home is where your heart is.
WHO INSPIRES YOU?
My mum is just the strongest, most positive, heartwarming woman. She’s my inspiration because she can power through any problem or issue. And my dad, too, because he is so gentle and loving, and he looks at everything through rose-coloured glasses. My parents and my sister are my support team, and I don’t really know what I would do without them. They’re in Australia, which is so sad because it’s so far away. Thank God for Facetime!