“Yellow Vests” Actress Melanie Lynskey Channels Her Teenage Anxiety: NPR

Melanie Lynskey has been nominated for an Emmy for her role as Shauna in the Showtime series yellow jackets.

Kailey Schwerman/Showtime

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Kailey Schwerman/Showtime

Melanie Lynskey has been nominated for an Emmy for her role as Shauna in the Showtime series yellow jackets.

Kailey Schwerman/Showtime

Actress Melanie Lynskey is still intimately connected to her inner awkward teenager.

“I wasn’t a very lighthearted teenager. I was pretty depressed most of the time,” Lynskey said. “If you’ve ever been shy, if you’ve ever been awkward, it’s almost impossible to stop feeling that.”

Lynskey manages to channel some of that teenage angst in new Showtime series Yellow jackets. Inspired by Lord of the flies, yellow vests tells the story of members of a girls’ high school football team who fall into a plane crash in 1996 and must survive in the wilderness for over a year. Lynskey plays one of the characters who, years later, is still dealing with the consequences of the terrible things she did to stay alive.

Lynskey says she was drawn to the series because of its powerful storytelling and character complexity. “None of them are some kind of stereotype,” she says. “It’s not like the smart, the slutty. They’re all interesting people that contain multitudes. And that was pretty rare for me to see in the writing of a bunch of teenage girls.”

Lynskey made her debut in 1994 playing a different – ​​and equally complex – teenager in celestial creatures, a dark film based on the true story of two girls whose obsessive friendship leads them to commit murder. She credits the director of this film, Peter Jackson, with teaching her the technical aspects of acting.

“They gave me a free day where I learned how to hit a mark, not stare at the camera, find your light, just technical things, because they didn’t want to stand around waiting for me. learning all those things,” Lynskey says. “And what a gift. … I feel so lucky to have had this experience. It was pretty amazing.”

Interview Highlights

On yellow jackets be inspired by lord of the flies

I heard [the show’s creators] tell the story to a panel where they read the comments on Deadline or something like that, and people were like, ‘Oh, you can never do a feminine all lord of the flies because what are they going to do? Compromise to death? Like all that stuff about women: about women who aren’t vicious, women who aren’t violent and aren’t willing to do what it takes to survive. And Ashley [Lyle], who is one of the show’s creators, said, “These people have never met a teenage girl!” And then they were inspired to tell this particular story.

Being a Shy Child and Finding Comfort in Play

When I was really little, around 6, I was so painfully shy that I couldn’t hold a conversation. I was so shy. And I remember I did this thing that was completely irrelevant to me, and I auditioned for a play. … I didn’t have a very big role in the play. But while I was doing it, my two little lines, I felt this freedom; I felt this lightness and I said to myself: “Oh my God, I don’t have to be me in these moments! I can do whatever I want. I can be free. I am in the another person’s body. I speak like another person.” And I got a bit addicted to it. And then I did everything. I did church plays, I did school plays, I did local theater, and then when I was a teenager, I started going, “Hey Well, that’s what I want to do in life.” And people thought it was crazy.

On his breakout role in celestial creatures And be in such a dark movie

There were a lot of things going on in my life, in my head. So it was actually an amazing experience to go to work and learn to channel my real emotions into acting and sort of free [myself] of them. It can be very cathartic to go through things in a performance, because your body goes through the emotion, your body feels all the anger, your body releases the tears and it can really help you process things in your own life. And at this point, I wasn’t talking to anyone. There were a lot of things I was clinging to. And so I found that really amazing emotionally. And then also, [it was] so funny. … I remember doing a night shoot in the middle of the night and we’re doing the scene and there’s huge lights set up. And I was like, It’s 3 a.m. and we’re shooting a movie. I just couldn’t believe my luck the whole time. It was amazing.

On the frustrating parts of his early career

It was hard to hear all the things you weren’t – and that changed from job to job, you know. Oh, they’re looking for someone who’s leaner. In the 90s and early 2000s, no one had a problem telling you what was wrong with you physically. And it wasn’t very fun. It was mostly a feeling of being evaluated and failing over and over again that I didn’t like. And then some of the things I was dating were just not difficult, not interesting. Some of the stuff my agents asked me to go audition for was downright offensive, like “the fat friend.” I was like, “I’m not going to do this part. I hate that this part exists. You need to stop sending me scripts where there’s a lonely girl eating a chocolate bar on the outskirts of the group!”

When told she wasn’t thin enough for roles and developed an eating disorder

It was a very common thing in Hollywood, people with eating disorders. Nobody was ever thin enough. It was very frustrating. I worked as hard as possible to be as thin as possible. I ate 800 calories a day, never anything more, writing down everything I ate. If I ate more than that, I would throw it up. Very restrictive. First of all, it’s horrible for your body. It’s horrible for your brain. It’s horrible for your metabolism. Now, as a woman in her 40s, I curse that person who made those choices, with empathy. Like, I understand why I felt the way I felt. But it was very difficult to literally starve and be told, “That’s not enough. That’s not enough. You’re not thin enough.” …

It’s a journey I’m still on. There are still days when I wish I looked different. But having a daughter now, I think it’s a lot easier for me to model positivity, try to be positive with her, and try to never criticize myself in front of her or say anything. I don’t think she’s heard the word “fat”.

On how the industry has improved for women since the 90s and 2000s when it started

I think there is still a long way to go in some respects. …but he’s also come a long way. Like, I feel like the casts are a lot more diverse than they were before. … And I feel like older women … your 40s – when I started it felt like the end of a career. There were so few people working beyond that point. And now there are TV shows and movies focused on women in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and there’s an audience for them. And, you know, the creators of my show are thrilled that I’m an average-sized woman. Nobody pushes me to have a different look. They’re excited about it, and it’s something I didn’t think was possible.

Not starring but having dimension to the character

It’s hard for me to read a script where the character is just kind of a conduit for someone else’s experience and doesn’t really have a personality of their own. I have trouble with these characters because I don’t know what I can bring to them. You find yourself doing stuff and trying to do something interesting when it shouldn’t be. And it’s a frustrating place. …

In Don’t look up, I was technically the woman being cheated on, but I really felt like there was a lot going on in the relationship between my character and Leo. [DiCaprio]’s character had, and there was a lot to the story. And we got to do a lot of really fun scenes together. So I think on the page, if you read the character description, you’ll be like, “Huh?” But then the actual performance of it and the role itself was very, very fun. So yeah, I’m drawn to things that have more than just a surface level.

Lauren Krenzel and Thea Chaloner produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Bridget Bentz, Molly Seavy-Nesper and Natalie Escobar adapted it for the web.

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