Over the course of her last two projects — Hulu’s CANDY and Showtime’s YELLOWJACKETS, the cultural phenomenon that earned her first lead actress Emmy nomination — Melanie Lynskey ushered in a new era of leading lady. In this feature, Lynskey sits down with her dear friend and former co-star Danielle Brooks to talk stepping into the limelight in a whole new way.
On the success of Yellowjackets: “This sounds so crazy, but I talked to a psychic, who I love, and she told me this was gonna happen,” she tells me on Zoom in July, in the liminal space between when Emmy votes are cast and nominations come out. “It had been months and months since we shot the [Yellowjackets] pilot, and she said, ‘That show’s gonna get picked up and it’s gonna be really big, and you’re gonna enter into a time in your career that you thought, if this didn’t happen when you were 25, it was never going to happen. It’s about to happen.'” Lynskey explains she was almost incredulous, “I was like, I just don’t think that’s possible. Thank you so much, like, she can’t always be right.”
On her friendship with Brittany Murphy and the pressure of acting: “I was friends with Brittany Murphy, and the way she viewed her self was always really heartbreaking to me — the things she felt she had to change to be a successful actor,” Lynskey says. “She was perfect just as she was, but people were trying to cast her as, like, ‘the fat one,’ because when she was a very young teenager, her cheeks were a little bit round. People tell you that you’re a particular thing, and it’s very hard to fight back against.”
On her partner Jason Ritter: “Sometimes, my husband will tweet things about thinking I look hot or whatever and a lot of people like it, and I said to him, ‘Isn’t it funny that if I was a Victoria’s Secret model and you tweeted the exact same thing, people would not respond the way that they do?'” she says. “People get excited because I look like I look, and my husband, he’s like a cute, young actor, but I am aware that some of the responses to him are like, ‘Good for you.’ It’s like, well, he got together with me because he found me attractive. It’s not like he’s throwing himself on the sword for the rest of mankind,” she says. “And also — he had competition.”
On a crew member suggesting she lose weight for her role in Yellowjackets: “It’s such a struggle, always. I feel like I have two voices in my head. One of them is coming from my heart and my soul and what I know is right, and it’s telling me, You’re perfectly fine. And then the other voice is just this little voice that’s always been there that’s like, What are you thinking? Thinking your body’s OK. It’s not OK. You have to change it, like, What are you thinking, doing a love scene? What are you thinking, being one of the leads of a show? It’s just reinforced so much culturally that there’s a different kind of body that is, you know, popular. And so it’s a struggle within myself to just say, I feel beautiful. My husband thinks I’m beautiful. And also we look like the majority of women in the world. We’re healthy, you know? I think there’s this weird shaming of anybody who’s not, like, a size 2, and I’m just over it.”
On moving into her main character moment: “I did my first movie when I was 15 and I’m 45 now. I think I’ve just kind of been under-the-radar, like, it’s a bit nerve-wracking for me to be more public now. I’ve never done so much sustained publicity and interviews, so it feels like a very new arena and I just feel like people are going to get sick of me because [laughs] if anything, I’ve just been kind of under-the-radar enough to just keep steadily working.
[Photo Credit: Gizelle Hernandez/InStyle Magazine]
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