Juliette Lewis (‘Yellowjackets’) on how her character Natalie is ‘like a grifter’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

Juliette Lewis was struck by the unexpected nature of the “Yellowjackets” pilot script. The actress stars with Melanie Lynskey, Tawny Cypress and Christina Ricci as a quartet of women who survived a plane crash back when they were soccer teammates in high school, ultimately resorting to drastic measures to live in the wilderness. Lewis plays the adult version of Natalie, who is recovering from substance abuse and ultimately reconnects with the three other women. “The pitch meeting and this script said that Natalie was imbued with mystery,” says Lewis in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. “She has a world of angst and danger and all this stuff.” Watch the video webchat above.

When Lewis was coming to understand Natalie, she found that her character was “like a grifter,” surviving from day to day by any means necessary. We first see adult Natalie leaving rehab, grabbing her car and her shotgun as she tries to get to the bottom of who sent her a mysterious postcard related to her time in the wilderness. While propelled by her mission and hoping to reconnect with her past boyfriend, Travis, who was also stranded with her as a teen, she must eventually deal with the unbearable pain of losing him when he turns up dead. “We’re seeing a person unravel,” explains Lewis. 

Lewis also collaborated with Sophie Thatcher, who plays the teenage version of Natalie back in the 1990s. The duo had quality conversations about their shared character, bonding over music and how Natalie came to be the person she is. “She reminded me of aspects of myself at 19,” adds Lewis. “Very insular, and even the lower register of her voice, I thought that was interesting, because we both speak lower.” Thatcher, who Lewis describes as immediately “captivating,” studied her adult counterpart extensively to match her mannerisms and vocal infections  “She’s very organic and natural and I think we share some commonalities, common ground,” recalls Lewis. “It’s a testament to the brilliant casting of this show.”

While “Yellowjackets” has inspired a passionate fanbase online, who enjoy dissecting the various mysteries throughout, Lewis prefers the real-world conversations she has with fans in person. Still, she recognizes how the show has resonated in the zeitgeist. “People light up,” she states, of her in-person interactions with fans. The actress is eager to dive into Season 2, which will allow the writers to dive even further into the show’s twisted world. “I feel like they’re going to take even more chances and be even more adventurous and leaping in their imagination,” hopes Lewis, “and they already were, so I am very excited.”

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