Melanie Lynskey said that her starring role in Showtime’s edgy new drama “Yellowjackets” is one that she would have been “overjoyed” to play when she was 26.
“I sort of came into this industry with people telling me in explicit and subtle ways that if you are over a particular size, then this is the only kind of character you can play. And if you’re over a particular age, you’re done,” Lynskey, 44, told The Post.
“I’m a pretty normal-sized woman, and I’m 44 years old, and here I am playing somebody who’s complex and interesting and has a love life and a history and is the one of the focuses of the show. And, it’s a show about four middle-aged women and also their younger counterparts and history. A major network is willing to make this show. I’m getting opportunities now that I would have been overjoyed to have when I was [younger]. It feels wonderful.”
Premiering Sunday, November 14 (at 10 p.m.), “Yellowjackets” is part survival story, part coming-of-age drama and part thriller with two different timelines.
In the first, a girl’s high school soccer team in the 1990s becomes stranded in the wilderness after a plane crash, where they dissolve into a “Lord of the Flies” scenario of savage cannibalistic clans (the details of how this happened are slowly revealed to the audience). In the present-day timeline, it’s 25 years later and four of these now-adult former soccer players try to rebuild their lives and keep the past buried, as their secrets threaten to come out.
There’s Shauna (Lynskey), a seemingly regular suburban mom and wife who’s slightly too good with knives; Taissa (Tawny Cypress), who has political aspirations; Misty (Christina Ricci), who works in a nursing home; and Natalie (Juliette Lewis), who’s had a troubled life involving stints in rehab and has never adjusted to “the real world” after the girls were rescued from the wilderness.
Lynskey, who’s from New Zealand — but lives in LA with her husband Jason Ritter and their daughter — rose to fame as a teen starring opposite Kate Winslet in the 1994 film “Heavenly Creatures” before appearing in shows like “Two and a Half Men” and movies such as “Sweet Home Alabama.” Since her co-stars are also industry veterans, she said that “Yellowjackets” gave them the chance to form a friendship.
“I had never met Tawney and I met Julia once years ago. Christina, I knew socially a little bit, but I hadn’t worked with any of them,” she said. “I thought it was important that Juliette and Tawney and Christina and I had some sense of being people who knew each other. We didn’t have that many scenes together until near the end of the season, but we all started a Marco Polo [group chat] and we got to know each other on a very deep level. We had conversations about everything. I’m terrified that somebody is going to hack our phones — we literally talked about every single aspect of our lives, good and bad.”
Lynskey said that she talked to Sophie Nélisse, the actress who plays the teenage version of Shauna, in order to agree on her personality traits.
“Shauna has a lot of sexual confidence. She’s a person who’s been underrated because there are people who are flashier, more sort of striking at first look and people who are more popular and outgoing and stuff like that,” she said. “But she carries herself with a lot of confidence. And I thought that was a really interesting thing; it was nice to know that [Sophie and I] were both playing her.
“She’s somebody who doesn’t have a lot of doubt about themselves as a worthy person.”