Melanie Lynskey on Finding Her Feet in Hollywood
New Zealander Melanie Lynskey is the star of Castle Rock, but it’s not in her nature to act like one, so between takes, she hangs out with the extras and crew. The television series, set in the provincial town of Stephen King’s nightmares, is protected by non-disclosure agreements, so there’s not much she can tell Sydney Morning Herald journalist Andrew Purcell, other than that it’s “spooky” and her character, estate agent Molly Strand, is an optimist undeterred by bad tenants from the paranormal realm.
One day on set, after watching her perform an emotional scene, a 12-year-old stand-in asked her: “Is acting, like, your legit job?” She could have said she’s one of Steven Soderbergh’s favourite actors, or that she’s won a major prize at Sundance the last two years running, but that’s not like her either, so she simply told him yes, acting has been her legit job since she was a schoolgirl growing up in New Plymouth.
She says Soderbergh’s The Informant, in which she played the wife of Matt Damon’s untrustworthy whistleblower, is her “favourite finished product”. In The Intervention, directed by her friend Clea Duvall, she won a Sundance jury award as an alcoholic meddling in her friend’s marriage. I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore, about a nurse who seeks revenge when her house is burgled, won the US Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at the same festival this year.
Her latest project is Sunshine, a series following the South Sudanese players of a Melbourne basketball team, as they get in trouble with the law and try to win a state championship. Lynskey plays lawyer Zara Skelton, who must challenge prejudiced assumptions of guilt to keep her clients out of prison and on the court.
She isn’t rich, she says – “do these people think I haven’t got a mortgage?” – but she does enjoy the ultimate luxury for an actor: the ability to pick and choose her roles. If she doesn’t feel a kinship with the character, a physical presence when she reads the script, it goes on the reject pile. “I want something to be awakened,” she says, “like ‘this is something that I have to do’.”
Original article by Andrew Purcell, The Sydney Morning Herald, October 13, 2017.