Libby Goldstein and Junie Lowry-Johnson interview: ‘Yellowjackets’ casting directors
If you’re a fan of “Yellowjackets,” chances are you can’t get over how good the casting is. The Showtime drama follows the lives of four high school soccer teammates surviving in the Canadian wilderness for 19 months after their plane crashes in 1996 in addition to their adult counterparts 25 years later in present day. The dual performances for the main quartet feel so in sync that it has even caught casting directors Libby Goldstein and Junie Lowry-Johnson by surprise.
“The producers and Libby and I feel really good about what we did, but it’s also just fun. You never know how anything is gonna turn out and it turned out really well,” Lowry-Johnson tells Gold Derby at our Meet the Experts: Casting Directors panel (watch the exclusive video interview above). “Everyone says, ‘How’d you do it? Who did you cast first?’ When we started, we knew it was important that the younger ones looked like the older ones, but we weren’t trying to cast lookalikes. And even the final result of it is so much better than even I think any of us thought.”
The adult versions are played by Melanie Lynskey (Shauna), Tawny Cypress (Taissa), Juliette Lewis (Natalie) and Christina Ricci (Misty), while the teen version are portrayed by Sophie Nelisse (Shauna), Jasmin Savoy Brown (Taissa), Sophie Thatcher (Natalie) and Sammi Hanratty (Misty). Lynskey was the very first person cast and Nelisse was the very last one. Goldstein and Lowry-Johnson vouched hard for Nelisse, who does not physically resemble Lynskey (Nelisse dyes her hair brown and wears contacts to match the actress).
SEE ‘Yellowjackets” Christina Ricci on playing a ‘manifestation of rage’
“But she embodies her so well. Like Junie said, we weren’t looking for lookalikes. We were just looking for the same souls,” Goldstein explains. “We lucked out, really, that we have the best actors and they embody both the old and the young, but I think it was really important for them to embody these young girls, the older actresses, because the audience is smart, and you just can’t someone in a wig and dress them up and say that’s her. It shows up so much in the show, it goes back and forth so much, and I just don’t think you can cheat the audience. We got lucky and it was really, really important that you believed that that’s who they were.”
The performances feel so seamless that there are some fans who thought one actor was playing both versions of the same character, in particular Misty, the team’s equipment manager and social outcast who works as a geriatric nurse as an adult. “Someone in our office, their boyfriend thought the whole time it was the same person. That blows my mind!” Goldstein exclaims.
Goldstein and Lowry-Johnson haven’t yet started casting the highly anticipated second season, which is currently being written. The internet is flooded with casting ideas for adult versions of other Yellowjackets survivors, but the pair have not read any at the moment. “I don’t think we take it into account, but after we’re kind of into it, I think we look online and look at it or the younger kids in our office do — well, I haven’t even looked at them so I don’t know who they’re suggesting,” Lowry-Johnson says.
“They might have a good idea. We’re not opposed to it,” Goldstein adds.