Samara Weaving has one of the most coveted jobs, playing the role of Indigo Walker in Home and Away. But the 21-year-old has revealed her determination to catapult her acting career with new roles and new projects, this year debuting in her first feature length film, Mystery Road.
Mystery Road promises to reveal Samara’s ability to play a darker, more mature character than Indigo or ‘Indi’ Walker, a teenage wife on the soap opera Home and Away. Samara describes Mystery Road as a murder mystery following the plight of an indigenous policeman as he tries to solve a series of murders in an Australian town. Her role is of a policeman’s young widow.
Also starring in the film is Samara’s uncle Hugo Weaving from ‘The Matrix’ and ‘the Lord of the Rings’. Being cast in the film together, she said, was a surprise to both of them.
“We were all having a dinner and I was sort of talking about it…and he was like ‘oh I’ve got to fly down to Melbourne for this thing’ and we were both like… ‘Wait, what? Oh, right, we’re in a film together, that’s cool!’”
Listening to her talk about attending the premiere, which was held mid-May at the 66th Cannes Film Festival in France, it is hard to believe Samara was ever shy. But unlike actresses such as Jennifer Lawerence or Emma Watson, Samara said there were no performances in her early childhood which would have indicated her future interest in acting. Instead she was withdrawn, largely due to continual shuffling between schools as her parents moved across Singapore, Fiji and Indonesia every few years for work.
Eventually, when Samara was 11 years old, her parents enrolled her in a drama group to try and draw her out of her shell. “I don’t think I liked it at first,” she said, “but after a while it was almost a sense of freedom.”
It wasn’t long before she landed her first leading role as the Grinch in a production of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Though she said she failed to convince anyone she was evil enough to steal Christmas, ever since she has pursued acting saying she “literally cannot do anything else.”
In the next few years, she performed with the Singapore Dance Company and the Canberra Youth Theatre and appeared in a number of short films. One, called ‘Steps’, she wrote with her cousin. At 15, she starred as Kirsten Mulroney in the Australian series Out of the Blue.
Being cast as Indi in 2009 was her lucky break, though it took Samara three days to accept the role. She was completing her HSC at the time and had already drawn up plans for her gap year and to study psychology and fine arts. But in the end, the opportunity was too good to pass up.
“I can go and travel and do Uni whenever I want,” she said, “but I can’t call up Home and Away in three years and be like ‘hey I’m ready now.’”
The following year, Indi moved permanently to Summer Bay and Samara became a full-time actress.
The work, she said, can be difficult. The morning after this interview, she would be getting up at 3.30 am to go to the set at Palm Beach. “We shoot … around twenty minutes of screen time a day,” Samara said, “most shows do eight to ten minutes a day.” Being directed to swim at the beach during winter, she said, is also a negative. But that doesn’t compare to the awkwardness of her first on-screen kiss on Out of the Blue.
“Oh my god…I hadn’t even really kissed that many people like in real life let alone on television,” she laughs, “I was 15 and he was 20-something … We had to kiss up against this door… it was just the most awkward, awful thing.”
But even intimate scenes have become more funny than stressful after three years of scripted romance with her Home and Away husband Romeo Smith, played by Luke Mitchell. She said the two regularly joke around, threatening to eat garlic before kissing scenes.
How long Indi will be on Home and Away Samara doesn’t know, but she has no desire to leave. “I will miss playing Indi,” she said, “she’s great.” However, she does want to work in other roles, particularly comedic roles. If she could, she said, she would love to emulate the careers of Natalie Portman or Ingrid Bergman.
“[They] have just perfected that art and they’re so versatile,” she said, “it’s still such a feat to be able to …take on a completely different role … whether it be just subtle changes or, like, becoming the Grinch.”
Samara has also modelled, being the Bonds as their Youth Ambassador for 2012-13, a job which entailed “wearing undies and getting free Bonds things.” But acting, she said, is the only career which allows her to explore her fascination with human interaction.
“I always liked to observe people and watch people… I always wanted to sort of get into their heads.”
Samara said she has been approached by young girls wanting to become actresses. Her advice is simple, “walk into an agent’s office and go ‘hey man I want to act, look at my stuff’ because most people do want to find youthful, new actors… the best thing is to actually go for it.”