Teressa Liane stars as Nic in The Reef: Stalked, a follow up to Andrew Traucki’s 2010 film, The Reef. We got to sit down with Teressa to talk about the film and what lies beneath its surface.
In The Reef: Stalked, Nic, in an effort to heal after witnessing her sister’s horrific murder, travels to a tropical resort with her friends for a kayaking and diving adventure. Only hours into their expedition, the women are stalked and then attacked by a great white shark. To survive they will need to band together and Nic will have to overcome her post-traumatic stress, face her fears and slay the monster.
Written and directed by Andrew Traucki (Black Water), The Reef: Stalked stars Teressa Liane (“The Vampire Diaries”), Ann Truong (“Cowboy Bebop”), Saskia Archer (Boshack), Kate Lister (“Clickbait”) and Tim Ross (“Wonderland”).
Dive in for our interview with Teressa!
What are people in for when they watch this?
Teressa: I think, possibly, a little more of a story than maybe they were expecting is kind of the feedback that I’ve been getting. It’s this shark genre, and the thrill and the suspense and the jumps are there, but there’s also this really powerful story, I think, of these four women that are just processing and healing through a loss that they share. Yeah, and it’s also about their friendship, I think.
Nic is grieving, and because you read the script, you know why, but what was your reaction to actually being on set, having to walk down that hallway toward Cath?
Teressa: Gosh. Yeah, even with you bringing that up, the emotion is there because I think the preparation that I’ve done was so intense. I’d basically kind of gone through these, not even stories, but basically people’s experiences was what I was kind of researching. And so much of that was just so frightening, I think for any woman. And domestic violence does affect men and women but the story we were telling was about a woman. And I think particularly, on that day, every female cast member or crew member was just, it was a heaviness to them that day and I felt that walking down that corridor. It’s just, it’s too easy to picture that, you know? The emotion was already right there. I remember at the end of that day of shooting, I ended up going outside and just crying my eyes out, like it just had to come out, you know?
And grief hits people randomly, at any moment. What was it like portraying a character that would frequently get hit by grief?
Teressa: Yeah. Well, I think, and probably one of the main reasons I connected with her so easily was because I have experienced loss in my life as well. And it was just, it was very, it’s that thing as you said, it sort of does just come in sort of unexpected waves sometimes. And being the character and the story that she had, I think I was really lucky to be supported by the other cast members as well. We were all just living this story pretty much for the whole shoot. Yeah, it was, I guess, not unexpected, knowing the story we were telling. The emotion was pretty much there every day.
Speaking of your castmates, did you know them prior to filming?
Teressa: No. I mean, the Australian TV and film industry is significantly smaller compared to the States, so I knew all of them. Ann (Truong) I’ve met once, very briefly, we had a coffee together years and years ago because we have the same representation out here in Melbourne. But other than that, we’ve never really hung out. So, that first week that we got together for our training and rehearsals was the first time we really got to sort of get a feel for each other’s energies and personalities. It was crazy. We all just instantly clicked. We’re really sort of different kinds of people, but all had just really warm loving vibes all around. I loved it.
I ask just because, on screen, it seems like you’ve been friends for years.
Teressa: Thank you. Yeah, no, it’s crazy. Honestly, like even during certain scenes, it’s like you’re, you’re, you know, it’s a scene and you’re you’re acting but it’s essentially like looking at someone that you really do have this care for and I think that does translate.
What was it like working with Andrew, who has built such a name with this style of horror?
Teressa: Yeah, it was different, I guess, than anything I’d worked on before because he knows exactly what works. He builds suspense and he’s great at this kind of like thriller genre as well. So he, in his mind, knows exactly how it’s going to go. And so the first meeting I got to have with him he pretty much said like, ‘this is the character that I would essentially entrust to you once you’re cast. I’m trusting that you know what to do with it.’ Other than that, we’d have a couple of script sessions and he was just open to us changing any dialogue that we felt wasn’t quite natural for us. And when we were out there, it was more just him saying this is the shot I want to get, you know, it became very technical post rehearsal.
Was there any bit of dialogue that you had a hand in that you’re most proud of?
Teressa: Oh, I don’t know if I can remember now. No, I’m sorry, but it definitely would have been something with one of the first shock response scenes. I think we all had a bit of a hand in ad-libbing there and it’s like there was real fear going through our bodies.
Are you afraid of sharks?
Teressa: I mean, I wouldn’t want to be in the water with one, probably. No, yeah, there isn’t this kind of overhanging fear of them. For me, I think, you know, after seeing a film like this, I might think twice about staying out in the water for too long, but I don’t think it would stop me. I love the water in the ocean too much.
I don’t know the proper terms for this, but have you gone diving and paddling before?
Teressa: Yeah? Yes, but not to the extent that was required for this film. Like I’ve done it just sort of for fun, really. But this was something else. We were lucky to have that week’s training. They basically just sent us out into the ocean with our guide and it was just like, ‘Okay, go as fast as you can,’ and it’s just powering through the water. Then we were learning how to quickly maneuver because for filming, for certain shots, if they wanted us to get back into position, we had to kind of get ourselves back there. I think the training was so it looks convincing, but also to help them get the shot.
I mean, you look like a pro to me.
Teressa: Thank you for mentioning that. Yeah, that was one of my proudest moments.
What do you think makes shark attack movies so popular?
Teressa: I mean, for me, there isn’t this kind of overarching- I mean, horror always has that sort of attraction as well, but there’s always this additional thing that comes with it, almost like the psychology of something like that. Whereas I think for this, it’s just, it’s so primal. And so it is this kind of, you know, fear and anxiety but then it builds this thriller kind of suspense. I think the jumpy moments and them not needing to be super sinister, is maybe part of it, but yeah, I love shark films as well just for that. It’s an easy watch. And you don’t walk away feeling like, you know, how some horrors may leave you feeling.
What are you most excited for people to see when they watch this?
Teressa: I’m really proud of what us girls were able to build as the friendship and just those stories. I would hope that people see a group of young women able to be strong and capable through this and working together. Yeah, I think that it’s the story for me that I was really proud of as well as that fight, I guess, specifically for my character. I like that she’s just continuously fighting even through this pain that she has.