The actor refused to lose weight for her role and her co-stars had her back
Melanie Lynskey is having a moment. After years of character acting and supporting roles, she’s the star of a hit new television show (“Yellowjackets”) that everyone is talking about — and she’s getting all of the praise that she’s deserved after decades of hard work and killer roles.
But she’s also still fighting, on and off set, to be accepted exactly for what she looks like, for how old she is, and for how she wants to present herself to the world.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, the actor shared that even at this point in her career, and after the Me Too movement, she received pressure on set to lose weight before filming began on the hit Showtime drama.
“They were asking me, ‘What do you plan to do? I’m sure the producers will get you a trainer. They’d love to help you with this,’ ” she told the magazine.
Not only did Lynskey refuse, but, she says, her three co-stars — Tawny Cypress, Christina Ricci, and Juliette Lewis — all completely had her back, with Ricci even writing a letter to the producers about the incident.
Lynskey explained that her character’s body and size was extremely important to her — that audiences see people who look like them on screen, and that someone of her size can be confident and comfortable.
“It was really important to me for [Shauna] to not ever comment on my body, to not have me putting a dress on and being like, ‘I wish I looked a bit better,’ ” she said. “I did find it important that this character is just comfortable and sexual and not thinking or talking about it, because I want women to be able to watch it and be like, ‘Wow, she looks like me and nobody’s saying she’s the fat one.’ That representation is important.”
She also said she’s shocked that some people watching the show criticized the plot point that her character has an affair with a hot artist — as if a 40-something year-old woman couldn’t catch his interest sexually.
“I’m just like, ‘Wow, really? That’s where people’s heads are at, that the most important thing is being thin or young?’ ” she said.
Before Lynskey found this comfort and confidence in her body, just exactly the way it is, she struggled with disordered eating and body image issues.
“I was very unwell for a long time,” she told People in 2016. “I had eating issues and at a certain point I was like, ‘I’m not going to survive’ — not like I was on death’s door or anything, but I was so unhappy and my hair was falling out.”
The experience led her to her staunch position now: to not only be herself, but to fight for representation on screen.
“I was like, ‘I just need to look the way I’m supposed to look’ and have faith that people are going to want to put someone in a film or on a show who looks like this,” she says. “I did have to truly become comfortable with myself, because you can’t fake it.”
And it’s paying off. “Yellowjackets” is a hit, and Lynskey’s performance is something that millions of people are rooting for and identifying with — for her honestly inside and out.