Melanie Lynskey Q&A: ‘Togetherness’
“I was on my first day of a movie and I got this phone call from ‘Togetherness’ creators Mark and Jay Duplass, and I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry,” says Melanie Lynskey as we chat via webcam (watch above) about her reaction to learning that HBO had not renewed the critically acclaimed dramedy for a third season. And while the story wasn’t fully resolved by the final episode, “I think it worked pretty well as a series finale even though that was not at all what they intended.”
Lynskey played Michelle Pierson, who juggled her marriage and children with her plans to launch a charter school. In season two, she spent much of her time alienated from her husband, Brett (Mark Duplass), but the finale episode finally reunited them and provided her a moment of personal and professional triumph. But as much as Lynskey loves series television, “at the moment I feel like I got my heart broken by someone I’m still in love with.”
Her favorite episode of the entire series came early in season two, when Michelle throws a wrench into her marriage by confessing that she cheated on Brett. “It’s just so heartbreaking to me how they’re finding each other again and have fallen in love and I felt that was exactly the time Michelle would do it. When everything’s going great, she’s like ‘Now I feel safe enough to confess.'”
Another pivotal scene comes near the end of the season when Michelle confronts Brett about his hypocrisy. “There was stuff I could access in my own life that felt pertinent, so I think there was a lot of Michelle rage and a lot of Melanie rage that mixed together,” Lynskey explains about shooting the largely improvised scene. The scene was shot outdoors, so Lynskey had to re-record her dialogue in the studio, and “it was just crazy things that I’d improvised that were so intense, and Jay was in ADR with me and said, ‘Yeah, you said some crazy shit.’ I didn’t have a memory of it … it was a very cathartic moment for me.”
Lynskey earned a Critics’ Choice TV Award nomination for the first season of “Togetherness” last year. While the show might be over, her time on the awards scene isn’t. In January she won a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival for her performance in “The Intervention,” which will be released on August 26 in the US.
“My best friend Clea DuVall wrote and directed that movie,” says Lynskey, “and she wrote that part for me.” DuVall was under pressure to cast a more famous star in Lynskey’s role, “but she stuck by me, said ‘I’m not making it without her.'” It paid off. It’s too early to know what the next awards season will bring, but recent Special Jury winners for acting at Sundance include Oscar-winner Mo’Nique (“Precious,” 2009), Oscar-nominee Amy Adams (“Junebug,” 2005) and the casts of Oscar-nominated films “The Sessions” (2012) and “In the Bedroom” (2001).