Alexandra Daddario talks San Andreas

Alexandria DaddarioNew York native Alexandra Daddario has been through a couple of rites of passage in her burgeoning career. She’s played completely nude against a much older (and fully clothed) actor as the adulterous love interest Lisa in True Detective.

She got her start in a soap opera. She played the lead character in a slasher (2013’s Texas Chainsaw 3D). Now the 29-year-old plays the teenage daughter the Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson – who’s only 13 years older than her – in the big disaster film San Andreas.

You might remember her face from the Percy Jackson movies, and she plays an interesting role in the upcoming indie horror comedy Burying the Ex, so this star in the making might break free of convention yet. asked the actress what she liked about being thrown around a flooded building in LA.

What appealed about working on San Andreas?

I was initially drawn to the character. It was really refreshing and wonderful to see a character written in this way where she’s just a real person.

Human beings can be tough and strong and vulnerable all at the same time and I found that in Blake. She’s a leader as well and I think it’s important to portray a young woman on screen in that way, in a position of power.

Then obviously, working with all these wonderful people and being able to go and work in Australia on something this exciting was great. I got to try all these new and different kinds of stunts and work in a water tank. That was incredibly exciting for my own personal adventure. It mimicked the adventure Blake goes on, in a way.

These movies always talk about how important characters and relationships are. Do you think San Andreas gets that right?

I’m in the movie and I know what happens and when I saw it for the first time I still cried about five times. Even though I know exactly what’s going to happen, I cared so much about these people and that’s a testament to how focused we were.

There’s a lot of action, what were some of the fun things you got to do as far as stunts?

I think this big water tank is the biggest in the world and I’d never seen anything like it. It posed a great deal of difficulty for everybody because of how complicated it was, but at the same time it was completely fascinating.

Floors go up and down and suck the water out into a dump tank that they then throw onto actors and stunt people. You’re tied on by a rope and you get pushed back by the weight of the water.

It was challenging but it was amazing how precise and how much fun it was. It helped me with my performance because I could actually go through what she was.

You’ve been impressive on TV, what’s each medium offering you at this stage in your career?

They’re both very similar. Because of the way TV has evolved I think there are ways to tell similar stories in both media. True Detective was quite amazing because it was sort of a movie, just a 10-hour one.

There are no huge differences between the two now except maybe the pace is a bit faster on television. It’s really quite astounding what’s happened with the television world because of Netflix and Amazon. There’s more opportunities for actors and I feel lucky to be here in a time where there’s just more out there.

Does the scale of the project change your performance?

There’s nothing quite like a movie of this scale. No matter what you do, whether it’s another film or a television show, it’s going to be a lot smaller. Sometimes it means you’ll shoot a lot more during the day. Also the food won’t be as good as it was on this movie.

When I booked the first Percy Jackson I’d been in acting class in New York for ten years and nobody has explained to me how to act against a tennis ball [as the stand-in for a CGI effect], you’re always taught how to react to a human being.

On a movie of this size or Percy Jackson you’re learning a whole different skill set when you act against something that might be a bunch of crewmembers walking a giant monster down a hill that’s a cardboard cutout. It’s a strange but really fun skill set to have.