Though just 29, Alexandra Daddario’s quickly on her way to snatching Gary Oldman’s crown as our most surprising cinematic chameleon. From her plucky adventurer turn in the family-skewed “Percy Jackson” movies to a monster-in-the-making in “Texas Chainsaw 3D” and recently, a mature turn as Woody Harrelson’s after-hours squeeze on TVs “True Detective”, the actress seems determined to keep us guessing.
In splashy big-studio disaster epic “San Andreas”, the New Yorker plays Blake Gaines, the estranged daughter of a gallant search-and-rescue helicopter pilot (Dwayne Johnson), who learns she’s got more than her good looks in common with her dad. When an earthquake hits Los Angeles, the resourceful and quick-thinking 20-year-old proves herself to a worthy ally for her human pals, managing to keep everyone out of Mother Nature’s wicked ways.. for the most part.
Part of what appealed to Daddario about “San Andreas” was getting to work with Dwayne Johnson, not only one of the biggest movie stars in the world but widely regarded to be one of the most gracious and down-to-earth actors to work with.
“He’s incredibly professional and incredibly nice – I’ve worked with so many great people, and they’ve all got good reputations, but Dwayne Johnson’s reputation is remarkable. Everyone across the board says the most amazing things about him – just glowing reviews. I’ve found that to be entirely true.”
Daddario, who got “got here [in Australia], quite early, to get me in shape and learns stuff that would be required for the film”, says the most challenging aspect of “San Andreas” isn’t so much the training or physicality required for the role but likely making a movie where you’re sharing the screen with a mound of special and visual effects.
“Having said that, I’ve done a lot of this, having worked on horror movies and the Percy Jackson movies – where you do a lot of acting opposite tennis balls or looking into the camera being scared, and part of my early training as an actor was learning how to deal with green screen and this stuff, and blocking everything else out, and though it’s always an interesting challenge – because it’s nothing you’ve learnt in acting class – I think having done so much of it has really helped me here.”
As Daddario explains, the crew of “San Andreas” always make sure someone’s there to help you with your performance during those effects-heavy scenes – even if that person is pretending to be a shaky building or wobbly bridge.
“Brad [Peyton, the director] wants the performances to be as genuine and as real as possible, so he makes sure you’re not always working with just a red dot or a tennis ball.”
In the film, Daddario’s character proves real handy in the Earthquake – having picked up some things from her Dad – and the actress hopes she’d be just as prepared.
“I was doing so much research for this film, reading everything I could get my hands on, and one day I called my roommate and said ‘We have to go to the supermarket and we have to get eight jugs of water, and we have to make sure we have lots of backup, and knives..’ and she was like ‘You’ve lost your mind'”, she laughs. “The more you read about it, the more it makes you nervous. If something did happen, it would be pretty terrifying. But I can be a bit of an alarmist, too.”