Melanie Lynskey interview: ‘Yellowjackets,’ ‘Candy’
Melanie Lynskey is having a moment. The actress has two plum roles this TV season — plane crash survivor Shauna in Showtime’s “Yellowjackets,” for which she won a Critics Choice Award, and real-life ax-murder victim Betty Gore in Hulu’s “Candy.” She landed a “Variety” cover story and made her very first late-night appearance in her career as a guest on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” “It’s funny to be having this many first moments at 45 years old,” says Lynskey in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. “It’s not something I ever expected.” Watch the full video chat above.
While Lynskey did not get the deepest sense of who Shauna was when reading the pilot to “Yellowjackets,” she was intrigued by the energy she brought. As presented in the beginning, Shauna is a housewife who has reintegrated back into modern society after surviving a plane crash and living in the wilderness as a teenager. She may seem on the surface like an ordinary woman, but her darkness comes through. “You sort of see an undercurrent of danger and people being kind of afraid of her, and I was just like, ‘What’s this about?'” the actress recalls. “She got back from the wilderness and there’s a certain amount of wearing a costume that she decided to do, like putting on the sort of housewife outfit.”
Lynskey also has the benefit of getting to see the foundation of her character with the concurrent ’90s storyline that runs through the season, with Sophie Nelisse playing the younger version of Shauna as she tries to survive in the forest. While the younger cast members studied their adult counterparts, it was Lynskey who studied her younger portrayer. “A huge part of my own character development was watching what Sophie was doing,” she reveals. “Especially in moments when Shauna is being a bit more intimidating, I tried to sort of channel Sophie.” The star praises the “Yellowjackets” casting directors, Libby Goldstein and Junie Lowry-Johnson, for finding the perfect actresses for each storyline.
Meanwhile, “Candy” took Lynskey to a darker place, though one that she found relatable in some ways. As depicted in the limited series, Gore was awkward and had difficulty making friends in a community of nosy, outgoing housewives who largely ostracized her. “I related to that very deeply,” the actress admits. “When I moved to Los Angeles, I was like, ‘Wait a minute, what the hell…’ I just didn’t fit in.” While Candy Montgomery was the one put on trial and got to share her side of the story, Lynskey notes that Gore didn’t have the benefit of being able to defend herself. “That aspect of the story really like broke my heart.”
“Yellowjackets” and “Candy” may share similar DNA, centering stories about women that happen to involve affairs and murder, but Lynskey experienced each show differently. While Shauna’s confidence is more fun to inhabit, the actress admittedly feels more aligned with Gore and the melancholy she experiences in her everyday life. “It was fun to go from one to the other,” she adds. “It felt like getting a lot of different things out of my system.”