With patience comes rewards—that much is clear as we approach the release of Nine Perfect Strangers, landing on Amazon Prime this month. The new mini-series based on Liane Moriarty’s bestselling book has been touted as one of 2021’s unmissable television events with iconic Australian actress Nicole Kidman heading the series as the mysterious Masha.
To add, our very own homegrown talent Asher Keddie and Samara Weaving join Kidman alongside screen stalwarts Melissa McCarthy, Luke Evans and Regina Hall.
The story follows the narratives of nine different people, each with unique personalities and backstories. They attend a health and wellness retreat named Tranquillum House hoping to escape from various stresses in their city-based lives.
When they arrive, they meet Masha, the resort’s curious and charismatic director who is dedicated in her ability to change the lives of her guests—at any cost. Each of the nine characters have no idea what’s about to hit them, but when it does, it completely blindsides them.
marie claire sat down with Samara Weaving and Asher Keddie ahead of the series’ release to hear more about their character transformations and working on the Byron Bay-based set together.
29-year-old Samara speaks to us via Zoom from her current base in LA, though she’s not forgetful of the incredible opportunity Nine Perfect Strangers posed in giving her some time back on Australian soil.
“Being able to work with this incredible cast, in Byron Bay in the summer… it was nuts,” she explains, before adding that the star-packed cast was like working within a “circus”.
“It was like having front row seats to the best play in town because it was such an ensemble piece. And even if the scene wasn’t about me I was usually in the background helping.”
Samara plays the character Jessica, a woman embroiled in her looks, her social media presence and her celebrity status. It’s an obsession catalysed from a $22 million lottery win with her husband Ben, which subsequently leads to their journey to the retreat—with a hope to reconnect.
If you’ve been following the sneak peeks so far, you’ll be familiar with the incredibly accurate portrayal Samara has made of her character—something the actress herself wasn’t mad about.
“I loved her wardrobe! I really wanted her to want to look like a Kardashian or someone to that extent, but to kind of get it wrong. I wanted everything to be just a little bit off,” Weaving tells us.
That, she nailed on the head. Jessica is seen in various stills from the series wearing velour tracksuits, bold statement jewellery and her face modified via plastic surgery (in real life, an arduous special effects make-up job in the chair every day).
Interestingly Samara, who had a hand in finalising the character’s wardrobe via Pinterest boards and look books, said she reflected on her own experience for the inspiration behind Jessica’s wardrobe.
“I assumed she wouldn’t have a stylist, she’s doing this herself. I remember before I had my own wonderful stylist, I had to dress myself for events. That was always really confusing. I sort of thought of Jessica doing the same thing.”
Out of Jessica’s wardrobe, a Fendi tracksuit was Samara’s favourite pick of the bunch. It begged the question we had to ask: Did Samara herself take any of that inspiration in her own day-to-day?
“I found myself dressing kind of similarly by accident!” Samara admitted.
“I would get little matching sets and I’d be like, ‘This is cute right? And it kind of is, it’s just not normally my vibe’.”
Of Offspring notoriety comes Asher Keddie, who plays bereaved mother Heather in Nine Perfect Strangers. The distraught mum attempts to process the death of her son. She arrives at Tranquillum House with her husband and adult daughter with a hope to do that together, but secrets have a way of coming out at the resort, and the family aren’t an exception.
“They feel alone in their grief. There are there is a lot of pain, a lot of sadness, they’re stuck and they’re really very much alone,” Asher told marie claire of the characters.
Acting this out would be one thing, but for Asher, the role required her to delve deeper and into new territory. While she is a mother herself (she welcomed a son Valentino Fantauzzo with her husband Vincent Fantauzzo in 2015) the actress admits she has never had an experience like Heather’s to relate to.
That said, she brought her own maternal instinct and looked to Moriarty’s incredible depiction of the challenging storyline: “For me it was about the approaching it and delivering it with the most authenticity that I could imagine.”
“It was very challenging and very confronting to try and imagine what that unimaginable grief feels like. Yet as a mother, it was helpful—although at times I may have resented it—to invest in it in an authentic way because the thought of losing your child and even worse being responsible for it is just so painful.
“It was a really intense shoot, for all of us, but I’m hoping that it can be relatable because the fullness of the journey of grief for this family is beautifully and sensitively written. I hope that we’ve delivered it in a way that is relatable,” Keddie finished.
Nine Perfect Strangers will be available to stream on Amazon Prime from August 20.