In “You’re Next,” a SXSW Midnighters selection, sweet girl Erin turns the tables on a band of axe-wielding home invaders during a family reunion, revealing sudden and very welcome survivalist instincts. We spoke to actor Sharni Vinson about what auditioning for such an action-heavy role required.
How did you get involved in “You’re Next”?
Sharni Vinson: This industry is very much a six-degree of separation world and a good friend of mine, Casey Adams, a stunt man, was roommates with one of the producers. And they were looking for a lead female for this horror movie they were producing, and they wanted her to be a genuinely tough girl. So Casey’s roommate asked if he knew of any stunt women who could act, and he said, “I know of an actress who wants to be a stunt woman.” So I came in! This was just a dream role for me. Everything about Erin, there’s a lot of qualities in her that I feel like I already have in me and then all the qualities she has are the qualities everyone wishes they had. She’s totally sweet and innocent and likeable, but then when it’s required, she can turn on the fight or die. It’s just instinctual in her. She’s almost shocking herself.
What was the audition like for something like this?
Vinson: I auditioned originally as an American. AJ Bowen was in the audition as well, and so immediately it was like, “Oh, this is a chemistry test!” because he played Erin’s boyfriend. So I read once and then they asked me to just do it as me, don’t do an American accent. It freaked me out. And it sounds bizarre because I should be able to just be me in any given time or situation, but this is how I’ve discovered the character, as an American. But once they heard me do an Australian accent, they thought it sounded more genuinely tough. I don’t know what that says about Aussies! I say it was the worst audition of my life because of the accent change, but it didn’t really matter because what I found was the truth and the realness in what was a ridiculous audition scene. I actually walked out and started crying. And I speak to [screenwriter] Simon Barrett, and he says it’s the best audition he’s ever seen! Whether I thought it was a bad audition, it was the right audition. But I hate auditions! I always walk out thinking I was terrible, thinking, “Please give me a chance! I promise it will be different on the day!”
So what’s your worst audition?
Vinson: All of them! [Laughs] I can’t think of a good one! I don’t like auditions. I feel like they’re a very unnatural setting and it’s a very unsettling experience. Because you can’t help but walk in and feel like you’re trying to prove yourself to people. And you should just walk in and be. And it’s really hard to just walk in and be when you feel out of your element or just not comfortable. I’m most comfortable on the set. It’s just happening.
How do you get over the feeling that you’re being tested in an audition?
Vinson: I don’t! [Laughs] I just hope to God they have seen some of my previous work and know that that isn’t how it’s going to be on the day!