Melanie Lynskey Came THIS Close to Not Playing Shauna

Can you imagine Yellowjackets without Melanie Lynskey? Me neither! And the good thing is, we don’t have to, but during an episode of Collider Ladies Night, Lynskey did reveal that she didn’t want to work at the time the Yellowjackets offer came in.

The Showtime series begins in 1996 with a high school girls soccer team gearing up to participate in nationals. However, on the way there, their plane crashes and they’re forced to do whatever it takes to survive out in the wilderness for 19 months. On top of covering the events in the woods in the 90s, Yellowjackets also follows what happens to the survivors in 2021 as they try to move on with their lives while their past threatens to swallow them whole at every turn.

That’s where we get Lynskey’s work as Shauna. She’s the 2021 counterpart to Sophie Nélisse’s 1996 version of the character, and the pairing is downright divine. And the same is true of all the 1996/2021 combos for that matter. Yellowjackets is just one of those shows where you can’t imagine a single role in the ensemble being played by any other actor, so hearing that there was even the slightest chance that Lynskey could have missed out on the opportunity was shocking.

During our 45-minute chat, we got to talking about the casting process and Lynskey explained that she received the opportunity in the form of an offer and never had to audition:

“Honestly, I haven’t auditioned for a while, which is lucky because I’m very bad at them. I get nervous and don’t like auditioning, so I’m very grateful that I haven’t had to do it for a while. [Laughs] I mean, I would if it was something where I needed to. I don’t have an ego about it, but this just was an offer, which was nice. I’m sure they offered it to 12 people before me. Usually the case is that somebody’s passed on it, so thank you to that person who didn’t see how great it was. But usually that’s the case. I’m not usually first on the list.”

One, yes, thank you to anyone who may have passed on Shauna so Lynskey could get the role, but two, get it together Hollywood! The more casting lists with Lynskey’s name at the top of them, the better.

From there, Lynskey explained why she wasn’t planning to take on any work around the time the Yellowjackets script came her way:

“But it just came to me, I was doing Mrs. America, I had a newborn child, I was exhausted and I had to say to my agent, ‘I don’t want to work. I can’t. It’s too hard. I’m feeling like I’m going crazy.’ And she said, ‘Well, an offer just came in for a pilot. Just read it and I’ll respectfully pass.’ And then I read it and I was like, ‘Well, shit. Well, now I have to do it.’ And she was like, ‘Are you sure? You just told me you don’t want to do anything.’ And I said, ‘No, I am sure. Let me have a talk to them. If they sound like psychopaths then I’ll say no.’ But they were awesome. I talked to Ashley [Lyle] and Bart [Nickerson], the creators of the show, and Karyn Kusama who directed the pilot and Drew [Comins], one of the producers, and they just were all so great.”

Eager to hear more about Lynskey’s experience working on Yellowjackets? Stay tuned! We’ll have her episode of Collider Ladies Night for you shortly after the Yellowjackets Season 1 finale airs on Showtime on Sunday, January 16th at 10pm.

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Perri Nemiroff (2811 Articles Published)

Perri Nemiroff has been part of the Collider team since 2012. She co-hosts Collider FYC, The Witching Hour and hosts the interview series, Collider Ladies Night. Perri's a proud graduate of Columbia University's Film MFA program and member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Perri splits her time between Los Angeles and New York, but devotes every waking hour to her cat, Deputy Dewey.

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