She also talks about the most challenging part of making this show and having Nicole Kidman as a scene partner. [Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers through Nine Perfect Strangers Episode 6, “Motherlode.”]
Adapted by David E. Kelley and John Henry Butterworth from the book by best-selling author Liane Moriarty (Big Little Lies), the Hulu original series Nine Perfect Strangers follows a group of folks who have left the stress of their lives behind to unwind, as they spend ten days at a health and wellness resort. As part of their retreat, Masha (Nicole Kidman) has promised them a path to mind and body healing, if they give themselves over to her mission, which has more in store for them than they ever could have bargained for. The series also stars Melissa McCarthy, Michael Shannon, Luke Evans, Bobby Cannavale, Regina Hall, Samara Weaving, Melvin Gregg, Asher Keddie, Grace Van Patten, Tiffany Boone and Manny Jacinto.
During this virtual 1-on-1 interview with Collider, which you can both watch and read, Weaving talked about the very specific look for her character Jessica Chandler, getting to film in Australia during COVID, shooting some of the wilder moments, having co-star and producer Kidman as a scene partner, exploring the Jessica-Ben dynamic, and the most challenging part of making this show.
Collider: Thank you for talking to me about what seems like it was probably a very fun character to get to explore.
SAMARA WEAVING: Yeah, she was a blast.
When the opportunity to play one of these nine perfect strangers came your way, what was it that got you most interested in the project, since there are so many interesting things about it?
WEAVING: There were so many things to get excited about. Probably selfishly it was that it was filming in Australia. In this pandemic, it’s so hard to get in and out of that country, and I jumped at the opportunity to be able to go there and see my family and friends over there because it’s kind of impossible.
While you were shooting this, did it feel like you were in your own little world?
WEAVING: Totally. It was really surreal. It feels like a dream now because it was a year and a bit ago. We were in paradise. It felt really strange. It was like, “We should be in lock down.” But Australia did such a great job with containing everything that everything was open and we could hang out. We were by the beach and we would just either be at this wellness retreat or we’d be at a waterfall. It was ridiculous.
How involved was the process of creating the look for your character and how much did that help you, in finding who she was?
WEAVING: Oh, a lot. The hair and makeup department and the wardrobe department did the real heavy lifting. We would email back and forth about different looks we wanted and different outfits. When we did the makeup test, that was when I really felt Jessica come to life.
There’s some wild stuff that happens in this show, and one of those things is having your nose fall off. What was that like to do?
WEAVING: I was so nervous because I think it was the second or third scene I had done with Nicole [Kidman] and I was like, “I guess I’m just gonna have to go for it. And then, she’s gonna come in.” But they didn’t use any makeup, which was cool. They just had CGI, so they had dots on my face and this funny prop of my nose. I was practicing at home in the mirror with my partner like, “Okay, is this a funny scream? Should I drop it like this? What’s the truth behind this?” It was really fun.
I would also imagine that you could never have pictured yourself in a delivery scene with Luke Evans delivering Bobby Cannavale’s baby. What goes through your head, when you’re in a moment like that?
WEAVING: Just trying not to laugh. They committed to it. That’s what made it so funny and so weird. It just made me laugh and I just had to bite my tongue.
One of the sequences that I most enjoyed was the potato sack race because everybody actually seems to be having so much fun in it. What was that like to shoot and how long did you have to spend doing that?
WEAVING: If I remember correctly, I think we did it in a day or maybe two days, with some other scenes. It was so fun. The sun was out and there was beautiful green grass, and we were all just getting really into it. I loved when they used the slow-mo camera and we could rewatch everyone’s slow-mo face. That was fun.
If you’re going to get screwed around with by anyone, it seems like Nicole Kidman is a good choice to be doing that to you. What did you most enjoy about exploring that dynamic between your characters and having someone like her as a scene partner, especially with some of the craziness that goes on?
WEAVING: She’s such a generous actor. She really gives you space to play and find the scene. She’s so patient. It was amazing. She was just so wonderful. And she was a producer, so she was a fabulous leader as well. Her and Melissa [McCarthy], and all of the women who were producing this. It was awesome.
What was your reaction to the ending of the series, learning where things would be left, and how your character would end up?
WEAVING: We actually didn’t get the final episode script until three months into shooting, or maybe longer. It was really cool to read where your character is gonna end up, in real time. We’d heard rumors and were wondering about it. Melvin [Gregg] and I would talk about, “I wonder where Ben and Jessica end up. Is it gonna be like the book, or is it gonna be different?” It was awesome.
What was the most challenging part of this shoot? Was there a scene or a moment that was most difficult?
WEAVING: Honestly, the most challenging part was the amount of fake tans I’d have to go and get, getting my nails redone, and getting my hair redone. I just cannot. I have such admiration for women who do that on a weekly basis. I do not have the patience for it. That was the most challenging. Those nails were like three inches long, and trying to do stuff was really hard.
What was it like to see yourself with the tan, especially the first time?
WEAVING: If I stay in the sun long enough, I can get pretty dark. I’m too lazy to lie out. In Australia, you can get skin cancer really easily, so I’ve been told to stay out of the sun. But it was interesting. My partner, Jimmy, was more surprised than I was.
You are one of the characters that goes into this as a couple. What was it like actually having somebody by your side to go through this with and to have that dynamic to explore?
WEAVING: It was really interesting. I loved Melvin. We would get together beforehand and talk about these scenes. The scenes were really nuts and crazy, and it was hard to keep track of where our characters were, each time. It was really good to be able to just have someone to be like, “Where are we in this? Okay, so we’re here.” It was good to have a partner through it all, and being able to explore not just what Jessica was going through, but what Jessica and Ben were going through, as a couple, as well.
Nine Perfect Strangers is available to stream at Hulu.