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'Obliterated' star Shelley Hennig reveals she almost lost her shot at Netflix show

The "Teen Wolf" star talks about the "fun challenges" on the show, including filming an action series when her character is going commando

'Obliterated' star Shelley Hennig reveals she almost lost her shot to be on Netflix show (Ursula Coyote/Netflix)
'Obliterated' star Shelley Hennig reveals she almost lost her shot to be on Netflix show (Ursula Coyote/Netflix)

Cobra Kai creators Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg and Josh Heald have gone back to their R-rated comedy days with the Netflix show Obliterated, starring Shelley Hennig, Nick Zano, Terrence Terrell, Kimi Rutledge and Paola Lázaro.

While Obliterated has been among the most popular shows on the streamer for the past week, Hennig, who plays Ava Winters, almost missed out on the opportunity to be part of the series.

Watch Obliterated on Netflix

As the actor explained to Yahoo Canada, she originally got the audition email while she was doing night shoots in Atlanta for Teen Wolf: The Movie, reprising her role of Malia Tate from the TV series. It happened to be a week where she got multiple auditions, which made her choose to just stick to three, to accommodate her busy schedule.

Initially reading the breakdown for Ava, Hennig saw "CIA agent" and she wasn't particularly interested, because she assumed it was a drama and she had her eyes on doing a comedy for her next project.

"I just didn't read enough, I guess," Hennig said. "Very unlike me, but we'll blame the night shoots."

Months after she passed, Hennig was having dinner with a friend and he brought up the script for Obliterated.

"He was like, 'did you not read the script Obliterated? The character's like you. It's so you," Hennig recalled. "[I] opened my phone, I was like, 'Oh my gosh I passed on it!"

But Hennig still had a chance when her friend told her that they hadn't cast the role of Ava yet.

"I put in a tape two days later, and the rest is history," Hennig said. "But can you believe I almost missed being part of this show? It’s so good!"

"In my head, she is mine. ... That would have been really tough for me to scroll through Netflix like, 'Oh, this looks interesting,' and then see it and put it together."

Shelley Hennig attends a screening of the new Sony Pictures Television and Netflix series Obliterated on November 29, 2023 in Culver City, California (Christopher Polk/Sony Pictures)
Shelley Hennig attends a screening of the new Sony Pictures Television and Netflix series Obliterated on November 29, 2023 in Culver City, California (Christopher Polk/Sony Pictures)

‘Going commando’ came with filming challenges

Once that was sorted, the premise of the show really hooked Hennig.

"I mean The Hangover meets 24. ... you got comedy, you got action, and the fact that it takes place over 24 hours, I thought that was a really fun thing, and ... a fun challenge," she said.

"Fun challenges" were in abundance for Obliterated, the premise being that a team of special forces, which includes CIA agent Ava and Navy Seal Chad McKnight (Nick Zano), thought they thwarted a bomb threat in Las Vegas, partying with drugs and alcohol to celebrate.

But it turns out, that initial threat was just a distraction, which Ava finds out just has she's getting intimate with Chad. They need to get back in action immediately to save Las Vegas, and they only have until 9 a.m. to do so.

Watch Obliterated on Netflix

There was one particular obstacle that had to be worked around. We find out in the first episode, when Ava is with Chad, that she's going commando. With only hours to try to stop the real threat, she doesn't have time to change into some underwear.

"They wrote that Ava goes commando, in more ways than one, and we established that in the first episode," Hennig said. "I can't run into an underwear shop, so she's commando the entire shoot, which meant that I wore nude Spanx every day … because I'm doing action stuff."

"They didn't do that on purpose, ... but this came to be our reality. ... So that was a challenge to film around. You couldn't do a shot underneath me because she's commando. It was hilarious that that was a challenge."

(L to R) Shelley Hennig as Ava Winters, Executive Producer Jon Hurwitz, Nick Zano as Chad McKnight, Executive Producer Hayden Schlossberg, Terrence Terrell as Trunk, Co-Executive Producer Joe Piarulli, Co-Executive Producer Bob Dearden, Executive Producer/Director Josh Heald, Kimi Rutledge as Maya Lerner in Obliterated. (Ursula Coyote/Netflix)
(L to R) Shelley Hennig as Ava Winters, Executive Producer Jon Hurwitz, Nick Zano as Chad McKnight, Executive Producer Hayden Schlossberg, Terrence Terrell as Trunk, Co-Executive Producer Joe Piarulli, Co-Executive Producer Bob Dearden, Executive Producer/Director Josh Heald, Kimi Rutledge as Maya Lerner in Obliterated. (Ursula Coyote/Netflix)

'American Reunion' audition that taught Shelley Hennig to not 'hold back'

Speaking about her experience on Obliterated, Hennig praised how collaborative Hurwitz, Schlossberg and Heald were on the project.

"In the past, I feel like I was comfortable just reading it, going in and doing my thing, and no one really ever told me to change something," she said. "In recent years, and maybe it's because the roles I'm playing now, they're more adult, ... I think these roles are just maturing and getting older, and finding my voice as a woman, which can be difficult in this industry at times.”

"I had such a point of view for this that I felt so safe with them, that they really cared about what we thought. I honestly think, at times, Jon, Josh, Hayden cared more about what we thought than us worrying about what they thought of us. That just shows how much they care and how big collaborators they are."

One example is how they worked with Hennig for the character of Ava, knowing that the actor wanted to do more comedy.

"It was important to them that they expressed to me that they promised that I was going to be able to have some fun on this as Ava Winters, even though she's very responsible," Hennig said. "They threw in so much fun for me and I really appreciated that, and they cared about that as much as I did, which was really cool."

But this isn't the first time she's met some of the show's creators. She first met Hurwitz and Schlossberg when she was 20, auditioning for American Reunion, which was an interesting turning point in her career.

"I tested for a role with Chris Klein, in front of Jon and Hayden, my character is on molly and I remember them being very lovely and they were like, 'Go for it, the room is yours. Do anything you feel comfortable doing,'" Hennig recalled. "So I humped a chair."

"That was really important for my career, weirdly. I know it's a weird backstory, but I just learned, don't hold back. That really works for their tone and what they need us to do to make this show work"