‘Yellowjackets’ star earns Emmy nod while shopping in fridge

At 45, Melanie Lynskey has worked steadily and delivered exceptional performance throughout her three decades with the company. But no one can deny she’s having a moment, coming off two back-to-back TV projects that have viewers talking.

In addition to her role in Hulu’s true-crime drama “Candy,” in which she played Betty Gore, a dissatisfied suburban housewife who is killed by her husband’s mistress, Lynskey is part of the sprawling ensemble. of Showtime’s “Yellowjackets,” playing the adult version of Shauna Sheridan, a woman silently tormented by her trauma as an adult. Between 1996 and the present, “Yellowjackets” follows members of New Jersey State’s champion high school women’s soccer team as they struggle to survive in a remote Canadian wilderness after their plane crashes. crashed en route to a championship game in Seattle.

Her performance as Shauna just landed Lynskey her first Emmy nomination, for Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Following the announcement, The Times spoke with Lynskey about her standout year.

Tell me about your morning.

Honestly, I always thought people were lying when they said they slept through nominations because, for example, if you thought you were going to be nominated, of course you would pay attention. But honestly, I was too nervous. I decided to sleep and thought: Either I’m going to be woken up by a lot of texting or I won’t. So Jason [Ritter, my husband] got up with our daughter and then woke up to a lot of texting.

What did Jason and your daughter have to say?

They were very excited. He made some kind of awkward video when I woke up. He had told our daughter to say, like, “Mom got an Emmy nomination!” She didn’t really understand what she was saying so she said something like “Mama’s Emmy”. It was very cute.

Adorable. So you should be aware that there is a consensus that although you have always been someone to watch, in recent years we have really seen this “Lynskaissance”, as the kids say –

It’s the most awkward name.

It does not roll off the tongue. I will work there. But does this era seem different to you? What do you remember from this chapter of your career?

I’ve always been so grateful to be a working, health-insured, earning actor. I know so many people who are great actors who don’t get the career they deserve. So I always felt like I won the lottery to be in that position. But most of the time I was doing work that I felt really proud of and people didn’t really see – like, “Togetherness” was a show that I really loved and felt really proud of and people didn’t really see not really look at it as much as I felt deserved. And so it’s just very different. Because I know people are watching and paying attention, and that’s really rewarding.

You’ve done a few projects led by women, but have you ever done anything with so many women? And what did this dynamic open up in your performance?

It was very powerful. Really, it was so awesome to read those scripts and realize that every main character is a female character. Not to neglect or disrespect the men on our show, who are wonderful and truly generous and generous; I think a lot of male actors have an ego where they don’t necessarily want to support a group of women, and those men are so up for it. But it’s really nice to read the scripts and everyone is so complex, everyone is so interesting and dynamic. There isn’t just one difficult woman on the show. There are so many.

Melanie Lynskey as Shauna in “Yellowjackets”.

(Kailey Schwerman/Showtime)

“With Yellowjackets” and “Candy”, and even before those two projects, you really brought complexity and depth to the frustrated housewife character genre, really showing how women live in silence with their traumas and their insecurities while trying to project normalcy outward. What has Shauna come to mean to you as you progress through this series?

What I love most about the show is how it explores what happens to trauma and rage if you don’t deal with it. It will always come back; it comes out in different ways for different people. Natalie (Juliette Lewis) reacts differently to Taissa (Tawny Cypress), and she reacts differently to Misty (Christina Ricci), who is just a complete psychopath. And then Shauna is just trying to make it look like everything’s okay. And she is arguably the craziest of them all. The rage she has, and the way she feels suppressed and the life she doesn’t think she has to live. I think a lot of women feel that way.

How did she challenge you? Were you able to draw parallels between you and her?

There are ways I feel like we’re similar. But she has a kind of innate strength and confidence that I don’t have and wish I had. So that way it was quite empowering for me to play it. And honestly, I took a lot from Sophie Nélisse, who played the young Shauna. Sophie has this kind of inner courage, strength and self-confidence that I find truly magnificent. And to me, I feel like Sophie kind of created Shauna, and I just ran with it. I was like, “I like what she’s doing, I’ll try to make my performance more like hers.”

Expect. So what were the similarities you thought you had with Shauna?

All the bad stuff – being reluctant to talk about anything, not being confrontational until you’re about to crack. I try to improve myself in this area, to talk about my feelings and what she suppresses and suppresses.

There are so many moments that reveal something about Shauna — that scene where she stares at a photo of her daughter’s boyfriend while pleasing herself, or how she can kind of casually dismember a body. Was there a moment that particularly revealed to you, that really gave you a glimpse of her state of mind, where she is psychologically?

Both of those moments were important, especially the first one, because it was in the pilot. I thought, “Oh, my God, this is crazy stuff.” I was really interested every time they wrote stuff with Shauna and Adam [Peter Gadiot], because I think initially I was like, “Oh, I want this relationship to be like a real love story. I want it to be deeper. And then I realized, “No, she’s having this kind of teenage year that she never had. She has this completely free moment where she’s not really in love – she has feelings for him and they have a great connection and chemistry, but she just lets herself do something she would have done when she was 20, and four months later, they were said to be like “Nice to meet you” and moving on with their lives. That’s not how this relationship ended. All that stuff was so interesting to me, to see how much she longs to get that time back and how much she wants to have real youth.

Speaking of youthful nostalgia, there were several shows this year that really tapped into the ’90s era, including “Yellowjackets.” Are there things you miss about that time, that period of your life? What do you remember of who you were at that time?

It’s going to be a bit of a disappointing answer, but, you know, just thinking about the recent Supreme Court decision. I just feel like there’s less freedom now. There is more judgment on women, there is more control, there are more restrictions. And I remember when I was a teenager in the 90s, the people I loved, the people I obsessed over, were, like, PJ Harvey and Courtney Love and Kim Deal. And Naomi Wolf. I read “The Beauty Myth” and I was like “Yes!!” And I just felt like we were taking back the power, there was this new wave of feminism that I really felt part of. I felt empowered to be an interesting person, a sexual person, and a messy person and like I could be myself fully. I’m just afraid things will go backwards. I see my little girl as such a free spirit and want her to feel the same freedom I felt when she became a teenager.

It seems trivial, but shows like “Yellow Vests” help to galvanize women. You won Best Actress in a Drama at the Critics Choice Awards and the young cast gave you a standing ovation. Did it make you emotional? Describe the bond that has formed between the elders and the younger ones.

[Her voice breaks] I feel so supported by all of them, there’s no kind of that should be me kind of feeling. Just the joy in that moment of looking at them and seeing them all standing there and holding each other, the joy that they had for me, in that moment, I felt really honest and genuine and they are like that with each other. If one of them has a tricky scene, the others will stay even if they don’t turn to watch on the monitor and say, “You did a good job; it was beautiful.” I’m so glad our casting directors got nominated, and I’m so glad the show got recognition and we could all be there together and celebrate. I mean, I voted for all of them, I’m not going to lie.

I feel like the cast is too big to have a decent group text thread; you should probably have separate ones.

Old ladies have one – they hate it when I call us “old ladies”. It’s the truth. So the old ladies have one and then the younger ones have one. And they all reach out individually, which is cute. I have such a candy [message] by Sophie and Ella [Purnell, who plays Jackie] and, like, you know, their mode of expression is Instagram stories. I haven’t watched them all yet. But I saw in my notifications like “Samantha mentioned you”…that’s so cute.

So how are you going to celebrate?

Tonight I made a plan with my friend Maggie Lawson because I needed a plan that I would be happy to do whether I was nominated for an Emmy or not. She’s one of my best friends, so it’ll be fun to hang out with her and have a glass of wine. Before that, Jason and I are going to buy a fridge. So it’s a very big day.

Hope you get a good deal.

I’m so excited, honestly.

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