The arrival of Hollywood on Netflix marks a new era for uber-producer Ryan Murphy. It's the first series created under Murphy's much-heralded nine-figure deal with the streamer. Set in 1947-1948, this fantasy of a what-could-have-been is an ensemble piece where the fictional Ace Studios decides to greenlight a groundbreaking film with an African-American female lead, Meg. The cast brings together Murphy regulars like Darren Criss to new faces to his brand like Samara Weaving. As the daughter of Ace Amberg, the head of the studio, Samara Weaving says her Hollywood character, Claire Wood, undergoes a real journey to discover who she is inside.
According to Weaving, landing a role on Murphy's first Netflix project under his new contract was as filled with sturm and drang as one might expect.
"It was a very interesting journey. I got a very mysterious audition. It said something like Untitled Project. They sent over some side scenes to read, and they were these scenes from Some Like It Hot. And I was late, and I didn't really know what to do, it was kind of weird... And then I left and then months went by, and I forgot about it. I was working in New Orleans at the time, and I got a call from my manager. He said, 'You have booked a role on a Ryan Murphy show.' And I think he was just as confused as I was."
The role Weaving landed in Hollywood was that of Claire Wood, the daughter of Rob Reiner's Ace Amberg and Patti LuPone's Avis. One of the first things viewers learn about her, other than her parents wishing to keep her out of the business, is that she changed her last name. It's a move she made in hopes of preventing any hint of nepotism on the down-low. It's one of the many details that define her character.
Weaving's description of Claire is of someone who wants to keep from attracting attention until she's ready for it:
"Claire's like a fighter. She can hide and camouflage and she can listen and watch... She wears a lot of red and black, sort of like a spider. She’s got long red nails, and I made her voice a little deeper than mine, and she's got red lipstick, very 1940s. She smokes cigarettes in a very sultry, sort of femme fatale way."
That "spider" description is no accident. Weaving sees Claire in the early episodes as a comparable to Varys from Game of Thrones.
"For me, she realizes she is the studio head’s daughter, and she's ambitious. She's kind of like that guy in Game of Thrones, Varys, whose little sparrows are picking up all the gossip undetected. She uses it to her advantage."
But unlike Varys, her character thankfully doesn't come to a fiery end. Instead, her experience working on Meg helps her discover this isn't who she really wants to be.
"She learns a lot about herself and how naive and selfish she can be through her relationship with Camille and also with her mother. And I think the relationship with Jack is a way for the audience to see that she's becoming vulnerable and letting her guard down a little bit. She's not as intimidating or as confident as she pretends to be, that her authentic self is much less selfish."
From Weaving's character Claire, it seems Hollywood really is magic. The series premieres all seven episodes on Friday, May 1, 2020.