Samara Weaving Wasn't Expecting To Sing For Chevalier

When Samara Weaving was cast in Stephen Williams’ “Chevalier,” she knew she’d have work to do. Maybe some research on her character, Marie-Joséphine de Comarieu, a real-life star of the French theater in the late 19th century. What she didn’t think she’d have to do was sing, let alone take singing lessons.

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“I mean, I assumed,” Weaving says of the role. “I think they would’ve been like, ‘We’re only meeting people who can sing really well.’ But I did have to take singing lessons and actually learn those songs and learn as much as I could about opera singing, which is very difficult. I sang on top of the recording, which was terrifying. I was very, very afraid. “

Best known for 2019’s horror comedy “Ready or Not,” Weaving says she was interested in the film before Williams even came on board to direct. She credits writer Stefani Robinson (“Atlanta,“ “What We Do In The Shadows”) with crafting a script full of female characters she fell in love with. And as Marie, Weaving found herself smack in the middle of Joseph Bologne (a fantastic Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) and his bumpy love affair with the French elite.

“She represented the kind of women of that era that were just stuck in whatever life their husbands were,” Weaving says. “They relied so heavily on men in order to live. They couldn’t own land or property or work or have any sort of income. But she somewhat naively, somewhat bravely, and at great personal risk, sort of decided that that was unacceptable and spoke out against that and decided to defy her husband’s wishes and go after her dreams and be in an opera. And that’s what I loved. I love that scene where she’s standing on a table, chugging a beer, and asking, ‘What about women?’ To a room full of stuffy dudes. So I thought that was very cool.”

Despite her fame, Marie has sort of been lost to history. Weaving found out a lot about her husband, Marc-René de Montalembert (portrayed by Marton Csokas), but was left with mostly one-off sentences about her in random books. She actually credits Robinson for being her biggest resource for the role.

“She actually wrote a book with her husband about weapons, it seems,” Weaving says. “I got the book, but it was in French, and I couldn’t find a translation of it. But women just weren’t authors back then, so I thought that was really fascinating too. She was pushing the envelope left, right, and center.”

The Aussie native has been quite busy the past few months. She was part of the ensemble of Damien Chazelle’s “Babylon” and had a scene-stealing cameo at the beginning of “Scream VI,” a movie that reunited her with “Ready” directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett. It was recently announced she’ll star in the 80’s thriller “Bella” for Paramount Pictures.

“Me and Larysa Kondracki, who directed me in ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ a few years ago, we’ve always wanted to work together again. We came across this script that is just bonkers, like this ’80s action thriller that’s hilarious,” Weaving explains. “I’ve also always wanted to do a full-action movie. I love working with stunt crews, and I find it really exciting. So this came along, and we’re very excited to hopefully make it soon.”

“Chevalier” is in limited release via Searchlight Pictures.