- Melvin Gregg plays Ben on “Nine Perfect Strangers” opposite Samara Weaving’s Jessica.
- His costar’s daily transformation was so drastic that her normal appearance caught him off guard.
- “I saw Jessica more than I saw Sam,” he told Insider.
When Melvin Gregg saw his “Nine Perfect Strangers” costar Samara Weaving out of costume, he was taken aback.
The 32-year-old, who plays Ben Chandler, had grown accustomed to seeing the Australian actress as his on-screen spouse Jessica Chandler, a role for which she covered her body in fake tanner, wore artificial teeth, and tightened the skin on her face using a wire.
Without the heavy makeup and prosthetics, Weaving looked like an entirely different person.
“The shock came for me after seeing Jessica every day, and then seeing Sam,” Gregg told Insider.
He added, “I saw Jessica more than I saw Sam.”
On David E. Kelley’s eight-episode adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s 2018 novel, the costars play two young lottery winners whose reality proves to be incongruous with the rags-to-riches fairy tale they imagined.
Ben is a former catering truck driver that lacks purpose after gaining the $22 million fortune overnight, and Jessica is an aspiring influencer with body dysmorphia and an all-consuming preoccupation with strangers’ perceptions of her.
In an effort to save their marriage, they check into a high-end wellness retreat called Tranquillum House for couples therapy.
Before production on “Nine Perfect Strangers” commenced in Byron Bay in early 2020, the costars met up for lunch several times to get to know each other and to dig into their characters’ backstories.
They joined the rest of the cast to film the large group scenes first, so Gregg said he and Weaving got comfortable playing off of each other before moving onto scenes focusing on their characters’ relationship.
“I kind of built Ben around who Jessica was, so it definitely helped to see her take on Jessica,” he said, adding, “We had a chance to get to know one another throughout the process before shooting a lot of couple stuff.”
But because Weaving was heavily made up from the first day on set, where the actors spent the majority of their time, Gregg quickly grew used to seeing his on-screen counterpart as Jessica — fake teeth, nails, tan, and all.
“Once we started filming, I would see her every day as Jessica and everybody would clean up before whatever, whether it be lunch or game night. She would show up as Sam and I’d be like, ‘Wait, hold on,'” Gregg recalled.
To him, she looked like a “completely different person.”
The other “Nine Perfect Strangers” cast members reportedly had the opposite reaction. When Weaving walked on to the set the first time as Jessica, some of them had no idea who she was.
“No one recognized me. My phone wouldn’t open when it saw my face,” Weaving told Digital Spy. “Regina [Hall] didn’t recognize me at all. She was like, ‘Who’s that?'”
Dressing up as Jessica turned out to be an experiment of sorts for Weaving, who detected a difference in the way people acted towards her when she was in costume versus out of costume.
“Everyone’s reaction and their behavior shifted based on how I looked, even though they knew I wasn’t Jessica,” she said. “That definitely helped me because it was so interesting seeing how other people perceived her and using that, you feel on display.”
The actress continued, “And just imagining that’s how everyone would behave was really fascinating and made me think: ‘Do we judge people based on their looks a lot more than I thought?'”
“Nine Perfect Strangers” is available to stream on
, with new episodes released weekly.