Nicky Whelan is a native of Australia and made her mark in the soap, Neighbours as Pepper Steiger.
In MANEATER, she portrays Jessie Quilan, a sympathetic and determined pre-med graduate who was recently left at the altar by her fiancee.
While this film opens up as a typical shark or college horror movie, the best part of it has to be hands down the gorgeous ocean cinematography. Rather than just show you what happens above the water, the audience can also see what happens below the waves and under the surface as well.
The dialogue and a few stereotypical character types leave a lot to be desired, but this is a visually stunning movie that is very reminiscent of 2002’s Blue Crush which was also filmed in Hawaii. The standouts in this film are definitely Whelan and West’s characters (Jessie and Will respectively), as the final two and the most emotional scene of the movie.
KATIE HARDEN: WAS THIS MOVIE BASED ON THE VIDEO GAME OF THE SAME NAME?
NICKY WHELAN: Funny you should say that! I did not know about that until the other day!
NW: I saw the video game and was like, Damn, it looks like the movie. No, I don’t think so. I don’t think it has anything to do with it, but it honestly could! So, don’t quote me on that!
NW: It’s really funny because of how cool I thought it was and today we both learned something new.
KH: WHAT WAS THE AUDITION PROCESS LIKE FOR THIS FILM?
NW: You know, this one. For me. I was very fortunate. I didn’t have to audition for this! I thank God for that because it would have been a lot of screaming and yelling for casting!
NW: The script came to me and I’ve worked with these guys before.
NW: They asked me if I liked the character and I said–
NW: You know what? I’m going to be a part of this shark movie! Absolutely. I love how Jessie is this broken girl that loses everything and eventually goes up against it all to face her fears. I relate to that. It’s a badass journey for me and I just kind of loved it. It’s fun to be in the midst of it all!
KH: Right? You’re the final girl. And you don’t really see that very often, especially in shark movies in particular. Jessie didn’t need a man to exist as a three-dimensional character. She does it all on her own.
NW: I love that you saw that. I think it’s really important to note that a lot of these movies that are being made now are women saying ‘no, we can do this.’ We can take this on. We’ve got this independence. This strength. And I did feel that, trust me! When I went to bed at night, I was exhausted!
NW: Hell yeah! I’m putting in my time and this movie really kicked my ass on a physical and emotional level.
NW: We made this movie in a very short period of time and on a very small budget, but it challenged all of us! The vibes were positive and amazing.
KH: WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST DAY ON SET LIKE?
NW: On my first day we shot the last scene of the movie! You don’t know where the journey is going to take you from the very beginning, but the setup was amazing because I got to do the finale with Trace (Adkins). I felt like a badass! He is unbelievable and so cool.
NW: We have to look like we’ve been through hell and show that on the first day. It’s very weird. When we first met, Trace stepped down, sat next to me, shook my hand, and then we went straight into the scene!
NW: Sure, it was weird. But we both connected and we made it work and we at least weren’t in the water that day. It made it easier.
NW: We’ve developed the sort of father-daughter kind of connection by the end of the movie, and were able to do that without not yet doing the rest of the movie!
KH: WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING WITH SHANE WEST? WE ALL HAD A CRUSH ON HIM BECAUSE OF A WALK TO REMEMBER.
NW: Shane is a stud, I’ve known him for years. And he’s just such a cool guy to work with. He’s such a pro!
NW: He knows what he’s doing and is super professional. He bought me through real tears in that scene. I don’t know if we were able to capture it to the real (though fictional) conditions we experienced on set, but I really was in tears!
NW: That scene where he has been gobbled up and fatally wounded on the beach. He’s a great actor, and he’s a wonderful friend.
NW: That’s the thing about working with guys like him, you know, you know, you’re gonna get a good performance and someone to bounce off really good. I’m a huge fan of Shane.
About the author: Katie Harden is a professionally repped New York-based/bi-coastal musical theater, entertainment journalist, and indie film actress. She is proudly part of the Actor’s Equity Association and frequently interviews colleagues, friends, and celebrities, along with reviewing television and movies. Find her at the bottom of a can of Arizona sweet tea or in the ocean! @KHardenOfficial