It was in the chilly month of February when Paramount wisely began marketing images and posters for the late-May release of Baywatch, a raunchy, R-rated take on the venerable TV series of the same name about a cadre of crime-busting lifeguards.
Among the fleshy avalanche of images was a poster of actress Alexandra Daddario dressed for the beach in an incongruent wintry landscape with the tagline: "Don’t worry. Summer is coming."
It rang appropriate for a couple of reasons. First, Daddario plays a character named Summer Quinn (played by Nicole Eggert in the original series). Second: At the time the posters were coming out, Daddario, 31, was herself working in the wintry landscape of Winnipeg, playing the role of a police detective investigating the crimes of an online predator in the thriller Nomis, opposite Henry Cavill and Sir Ben Kingsley.
"Something like Nomis is really interesting to me because I wanted to work with the people that were involved with it and it was a role I’d never done before," Daddario says from Miami, while doing press for Baywatch. "It’s exciting to be in a place where I can be in something like Baywatch because it enables me to be able to do the kind of things I haven’t done before."
In fact, Daddario’s resumé thus far is admirably diverse. She’s done horror (Texas Chainsaw 3D), fantasy (in two Percy Jackson films, she played the demigod daughter of Athena), romance (The Choice) and horror-comedy (Burying the Ex), not to mention a memorable role in the HBO series True Detective as Woody Harrelson’s mistress. In Baywatch, she plays a lifeguard who works alongside Dwayne Johnson’s rebooted David Hasselhoff character Mitch, a change-up from playing his daughter in the 2015 disaster movie San Andreas.
The TV series Baywatch earned its long-running success with the appeal of beautiful bodies running — in slo-mo — on beautiful beaches, a formula the movie takes to R-rated extremes in transitioning the sexy-melodrama into a flat-out raunchy comedy. Daddario took to the transformation with a cautious sense of fun.
"I read the script and I understood the tone of the film," she says. "The only thing I wasn’t interested in doing was nudity, because I didn’t think it needed it. You have a lot of people who are half-naked the entire time and so you didn’t need that. The body parts you do see make up for those you don’t see."
"But I was willing to push the envelope. I got what they were trying to do and I really wanted to be a part of that," she says. "This is the first time I got to be part of more flat-out goofy comedy and that’s something I’ve been really wanting to do. I want to make people laugh."
She also doesn’t object to subjecting people to suspense, which she’ll do in Nomis.
"It’s a more adult role than I’ve played," she says. "I’m basically in an interrogation room with the bad guy the entire time and the scenes are very dark and very strange.
Nomis is a psychological piece and is unlike anything the actress has ever done before.
"This character is dealing with something that... I’ve never had a character deal with something like this before in a film. It’s fun. I love doing heavy stuff."
Working in Canada in February and March presumably helped her get to a dark place. Daddario was born in New York City and was accustomed to the hot-and-cold extremes of that city’s seasons. But that was a long time ago.
"I’ve lived in Los Angeles now for seven years and for some reason I haven’t been in cold weather for an extended period of time, so it was actually a shock," she says. "I was very excited at first to go and experience a winter but after a week, I was like ‘What? This is terrible!’
"But I loved Winnipeg. You guys have a great film industry in the city."