Sharni Vinson on You're Next

Martyn Conterio

Australian actress Sharni Vinson headlines Adam Wingard’s latest horror flick, the mumblegore slasher homage You’re Next. We met up with Vinson in central London back in May, when she was doing promotional duties for what is hopefully her breakout role. The super-excited Vinson told us about how she wanted to be a stuntwoman.

GFW: How did you end up bagging the lead role?
Sharni Vinson: Man, I guess it was fate. Truthfully, for this one, it was weird. In Hollywood you have a team that are meant to do everything for you and it just so turns out that you end up booking things [auditions] through friends, yourself or a connection. It was just one of those things. A good friend of mine, who is a stuntman, lived with one of the film’s producers and they were doing this movie where they were genuinely seeking a tough, kind of stunt-action girl, to be their horror hero. The producer asked my friend, ‘Do you know any stuntwomen who are good actors and can pull off this believably bad-ass kind of character?’ So he told them that he knows an actress who wanted to be a stuntwoman.

Is that you?
That’s me.

There aren’t many actresses around who want to be stuntwomen.
I auditioned with AJ Bowen. Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett were also in the room. I didn’t know they would be there when I walked in so it was like, ‘Is this a first audition or is this a screen test?’

Was the character written as an American?
It was. There were minor adjustments made to some of the story and character but that was really all it was. Other than that, it’s just a different voice. Adam and Simon liked the Australian accent because in their minds it sounded tougher than an American accent.

Would you say you’re a tough person in real life? Let’s have a hypothetical scenario: You and a friend with a gammy leg are being chased by a maniac with a chainsaw. Do you run and leave your friend behind or do you stay and fight?
I’d kick their arse. I do consider myself a tough person. I must be, to some degree, because when I walked in to the audition, Adam and Simon said I was tough and not trying to be. I know I have some of it inside of me, for sure. The thing I embodied after shooting the movie is certain qualities of Erin [Vinson’s character]. It changed my mentality.

How so?
We shot the movie in Columbia, Missouri. We stayed in a motel and the only thing on in the motel – in the hours we were shooting – was like The First 48 [crime documentary series]. So my mind is going from horror movie to horrific reality. One particular day I had this guy come knock on my door. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, he’s going to come in here’. He wanted to get in. He left then five minutes later he came back. I can’t tell you what happened. I was standing in the kitchen, thought he’d gone, he came back, I grabbed a steak knife and just stood there staring at the door. I said to my roommate, ‘This guy doesn’t know it but if he comes in here, I’m gonna stab him’.

What was the mood like on set?
It was so much fun. We shot the movie six nights a week. We’d roll up at eight p.m. and finish at 7 a.m. It was a lot of night shoots. We were shooting this film like vampires. Joe Swanberg had us laughing non-stop and it gave us a nice bonding experience.

Had you seen Wingard’s A Horrible Way To Die before shooting?
After I got the script I knew I had to see something and I saw A Horrible Way To Die. I said ‘I get it’. The trio that came into You’re Next – Swanberg, Bowen and Seimetz – mixed with Adam and Simon … they wanted it to be their first commercial success. I knew they would push boundaries, keep their originality and go a little more commercial.

You also starred in Bait 3D, which was a fun little horror movie.  You’re probably asked this a lot, but are you a signed up fan of the genre?
I was the kid watching horror movies when I was way too young. I was six or seven and was able to go to the horror section in the video store and pick whatever I wanted. I’d go straight to that section.

You’re Next is something of a dream come true, then? You get to play the iconic Final Girl role.
It combined horror and action, my two favourite genres. It was a dream-come-true, for real.

Now the film has taken absolutely ages to get a release, what happened? It was screening at festivals in 2010.
Yes. Basically, it screened at Toronto and was picked up by Lionsgate from there and not long after that Lionsgate merged with Summit. So instead of releasing the film when it was originally supposed to be released, all of a sudden all of Lionsgate’s movies and Summit’s movies had to go in one schedule. They can’t compete.

'You're Next' is out in Canada this Friday.

Main image: Corey Ransberg via Lionsgate Publicity

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