Actress Samara Weaving last dazzled audiences playing Grace in the delightfully bloody horror film, “Ready or Not.” Now, Weaving has traded in her wedding dress for some dapper duds and transplanted herself to the late-1940s.
As the ambitious Claire Wood in Ryan Murphy’s new series, “Hollywood,” Weaving is lending her grace and wit to the “Glee” director’s revisionist take on the Glamour Factory. Weaving, whose father holds a PhD in film noir (yes, you can get one!) knew a fair bit about Old Hollywood prior to audition, specifically noirish women like Veronica Lake and Lauren Bacall. What fascinated Weaving was the idea that many actresses of the studio era struggled with inner demons due to the exploitation and stress — both personal and professional — that they endured.
Her initial audition immediately placed her in the world of Old Hollywood. Her audition “sides” were a sequence from the 1959 Marilyn Monroe movie, “Some Like It Hot,” giving Weaving a chance to show her swagger and timing. Acting in Murphy’s world was fantastic, according to the actress, who got the opportunity to wear actual costumes utilized in productions of the era. Wearing this living history helped, especially when her character actually has to do an old-fashioned screen test for a role.
As if there wasn’t enough pressure on the actress, she also got the opportunity to work opposite two media titans: Broadway legend Patti LuPone and television impresario Rob Reiner. As she recounts, having to do a fraught dinner table scene was fun, even if the intimidation factor was high. It also sets the bar for how LuPone and Weaving’s characters eventually transform as the series goes on.
Working with director Janet Mock, who helmed several episodes of the series, also made a powerful impact on Weaving. Considering Murphy’s story looks at the marginalized people who couldn’t star in features during the mid-1940s due to studio mandates, having Mock as the director resonates on a personal level.
You can hear more from Samara Weaving about “Hollywood” in the video above. She’ll next be seen in the feature film “Bill & Ted Face the Music.”
“Hollywood” streams on Netflix starting May 1.