When 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.
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.
Read more of our chat with Samara – including her skyrocketing career and her secret Harry Potter tattoo – in this month's Women's Health, on sale Monday March 5.