Fantastic Fest: Sharni Vinson on ‘You’re Next’

The hot new Survivor Girl on You're Next, appearing at Fantastic Fest, and the "sharks in a supermarket" thriller Bait 3-D!

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

Sharni Vinson is going to be in Austin for Fantastic Fest where You’re Next will be playing. I got to meet her in Toronto after the film played at TIFF’s Midnight Madness. We talked about her kick-ass action heroism in the horror movie, where she defends her in-laws against masked attackers. It was also my first chance to geek out over Step Up 3D, and look forward to her next action packed film.


Crave Online: If masked men break into this room right now, would you protect me?

Sharni Vinson: I sure will, mate. I really will. It’s actually funny because I feel more confident and comfortable just as a woman after shooting this movie. It’s not to say if someone came in here that I would be able to do anything, but I wouldn’t be scared to try. After this movie, I did start sleeping with a knife under my pillow. To be honest, I did. We were in Missouri so there were some interesting characters lurking around this motel. One guy came to our rooms, because we were all next to one another, me, Wendy and Barbara. At one point this guy came knocking on the door. And stupidly, I didn’t even look through the keyhole, just opened it up. He’s like, “Hi, is this so and so’s room?” I’m like no and he’s like, “Oh, well, what are you doing later?” I’m like, “Oh, no.” The thing that went through my mind was, “You idiot! You just opened a door to a stranger. You didn’t even look through the window and you’re in Missouri at a crazy motel.” I’d just come off set doing all this stuff and meanwhile I was watching 48 Hours and it was just all going a bit crazy. So after that, there was a moment when Wendy and I were in the kitchen. He went away but he came back. When he came back we were in the kitchen just making some fruit. He knocked on the door and I actually grabbed a steak knife. I was like if this motherf***er’s going to come in here, he’s going to be sorry. I just couldn’t help it. It was just something instinctively that maybe I wouldn’t have done before but because of this movie now I’m just more aware.


Was it intense to go there every day?

I was in my element, man. Seriously, this movie for me, I think everyone was kind of laughing a bit at the sense of the more times I got to beat someone over the head or just have fun with those things, I was just loving it. I just enjoy it. I get bored easily on set as you can with a film set. It’s long hours. It does get a bit tedious and it does get boring so I think for me, something like a romantic comedy wouldn’t quite be enough. Whereas with this, I was almost in every scene so I was very, very busy and worked throughout the film which is what I enjoy. Even when I wasn’t, I was working with the stunt coordinator learning knife skills, learning how to spin a knife, spin a fire poker, dive off a ladder and drop roll out of it. All those little things that to me make just being there so much more exciting.


Is ‘You’re Next’ your second action movie after ‘Step Up 3D?’

Yeah, I like to think of it as an action movie. There’s definitely a lot of action in it. It’s been an interesting kind of process for me since moving to Hollywood. Step Up really began my film career. It was my first movie ever. The thing that I got out of that the most was the satisfaction of showing the world that I don’t just act. I dance. I’ve danced since I was three so it was really nice to be able to show people that I do that too. But also within Step Up, it wasn’t just dancing. It wasn’t your average dance movie either because we were put through an intense boot camp session of literally 12 hours of exercise every day. It wasn’t just dancing. We were taken to the gymnasium. We were given three hours of parkour a day so I learned how to vault over objects and duck under objects. We also were put through capoeira training which is Brazilian martial arts. I did that for five months. It kind of moved me out of dancing but showed me that dancers can be very physical. It was a very nice crossover path into action. Since, I played a small part in the sequel to Blue Crush where I was a surfer so I was able to surf. After that, Bait 3-D which is out in April was a bit of a horror action as well but not so much on the action for me as it was sitting on a cold vent in the middle of a drowned out supermarket staring at a shark. This is the first movie for me where I feel like I’ve really been able to utilize more talents than people have seen before. It was because I was given this role of this woman that just is able to fight back in such a smart way and outwit these people. All the scenes were just written so well. I just knew that I needed to do this role for the fact that it was such a good message and for the fact that I wanted to be out there seen as the next action girl.


Wasn’t ‘Step Up 3D’ a superhero movie?

It is a little. There are so many characters in it that kind of do come across that way.


Their power is dance.

Actually, that’s exactly how the director described the movie. John Chu described the film as these are the superheroes of the dance world, so it’s funny that you say that.


That chase dance scene just destroys me.

We called that the Cat and Mouse scene. It literally was a cat chasing the mouse in that scene and it was a very seductive kind of like “Follow me, I’m going to make you want me.” Just be a bit mysterious with it. Yeah, that’s exactly what he was after. Shooting that was quite an experience because I felt like I was the underdog walking in. A bit of a fish out of water, hadn’t danced for four years prior to shooting that film but I had danced so much as a child. It was literally like being thrown into a room with the world’s best dancers and the world’s best choreographers. It’s quite intimidating at first because as the lead I was supposed to be the best, I was supposed to be better than these people. It’s like oh my God, I can’t do this right now, are you kidding? The magic of shooting and the way it was all edited, it looked good.


I read a description of Bait: “sharks in a flooded supermarket.” Is that going to be the greatest movie ever?

[Laughs] Is it going to be the greatest movie ever? Well, it’s interesting because when I actually read the script for Bait, it just seemed so far fetched. First of all, a tsunami hits the coastline of Australia and traps all of us in a supermarket with great white sharks. What are the odds? I’m just like this would never happen ever. But the funniest thing was, when we were shooting the movie was exactly when the whole earthquake happened in Japan, the devastating waves that were predicted to come off the California coastline and they were predicted to come down to Australia as well. So we were down there going, “This is actually going to happen one day. This is quite strange.” We were having the worst weather that Queensland has ever seen. It was just torrential storms, just horrific, horrific weather. We had flooding, torrential flooding at the time that we were shooting the movie. During the flooding, bull sharks from the rivers close by actually washed into the street and were at people’s front doors. There’s these amazing images of the flooded streets of Queensland, this woman who actually opened her front door to a river and a bull shark pretty much at her doorstep. I’m like wait, this is starting to sound a little more real than at first thought. Yeah, that’s going to be an interesting one. With the 3-D again, it’s nice to work in a 3-D film because it’s different again with the cameras. It’s nice to go behind the monitors and watch something in 3-D. That’s going to be an interesting film because it was originally an Australian film and we’ve ADR’ed the entire film in an American accent now so I don’t know what’s going on with that.


That’s some ‘Mad Max’ sh**.

Yeah, I think they’re previewing 10 minutes of it today somewhere here [in Toronto].


What do you do to stay active and physical in real life?

These days, not much. I grew up in the state swim school. I was a swimmer from the age of six to 20. I was in a pool three hours a day, up and down a black line, trained potentially for Olympics one day. I also went into the surf life saving club so a lot of surf, surfing, paddling. I grew up a dancer so lots of ballet and gymnastics and also horse riding is a huge thing for me. I don’t even realize I’m exercising half the time. I just like to get on a bike and cycle around. I’d rather do that than drive. I’d rather walk to the store than drive. It’s just simple things that I do in honesty that is how I keep fit these days, but I was so physical as a kid that I try to utilize those skills now into roles in acting.


If I bring my ‘Step Up 3D’ DVD to Austin, will you sign it for me?

Oh, absolutely. Yes, of course.