Melanie Lynskey Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (2)  | Trivia (29)  | Personal Quotes (28)

Overview (4)

Born in New Plymouth, New Zealand
Birth NameMelanie Jayne Lynskey
Nickname Mel
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (1)

At 16 years of age, Melanie Lynskey captivated audiences with her astonishing debut in Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures (1994). Her portrayal of Pauline - an outcast teenager whose relationship with her best friend (Kate Winslet) spirals dangerously out of control - was described as "perfect" by Richard Corliss of TIME magazine, and earned Lynskey a Best Actress prize at the New Zealand Film Awards.

Following a three-year hiatus spent studying at university and re-locating to Los Angeles, Lynskey made a welcome return to the silver screen when she was cast opposite Drew Barrymore in Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998). Parts in Detroit Rock City (1999), But I'm a Cheerleader (1999), Coyote Ugly (2000), Snakeskin (2001), Abandon (2002), Sweet Home Alabama (2002), Shattered Glass (2003), and Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers (2006) came next.

In recent years, Lynskey has emerged as one of the industry's most celebrated character actors, gaining plaudits for her performances in Sam Mendes's Away We Go (2009), Jason Reitman's Up in the Air (2009), Steven Soderbergh's The Informant! (2009), Win Win (2011), and The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012).

Prolific supporting roles - opposite the likes of George Clooney, Edward Norton and Matt Damon - aside, headline parts in Hello I Must Be Going (2012), Happy Christmas (2014), The Intervention (2016) - for which she received a Special Jury Award at Sundance - and I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore. (2017) have proved that she is also a dynamite leading lady.

On television, Lynskey has worked her scene-stealing magic in a variety of projects, such as the hugely popular Two and a Half Men (2003), where she appeared for twelve years as Rose; the acclaimed HBO dramedy Togetherness (2015), for which she earned a Critics' Choice Award nomination for her portrayal of Michelle Pearson; the psychological horror series Castle Rock (2018), where she starred as Molly Strand; and the critically lauded miniseries Mrs. America (2020).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Nate

Family (2)

Spouse Jason Ritter (2018 - present)  (1 child)
Jimmi Simpson (14 April 2007 - 22 May 2014)  (divorced)
Parents Lynskey, Kay
Lynskey, Tim

Trivia (29)

She attended New Plymouth Girls' High School, and later studied at Victoria University of Wellington, NZ.
Named one of E! Online's "Sizzlin' Sixteen" in 2003.
Auditioned for roles in The Crucible (1996), Scream (1996) and Cousin Bette (1998).
She was discovered by Fran Walsh during an exhaustive search for a teenage actress to play Pauline Parker in Heavenly Creatures (1994), just two weeks before filming was due to commence.
Almost landed the role of Valerie (played by Patricia Arquette) in Little Nicky (2000), and was considered for Cameron Diaz's role in Gangs of New York (2002).
Frequently works with past co-stars.
Friends with Clea DuVall and Natasha Lyonne, both of whom she worked with in But I'm a Cheerleader (1999).
She has a dog called Mouse, a chihuahua-dachshund mix, which she named after her character in Abandon (2002).
Received coaching from co-star Sarah Peirse for her debut in Heavenly Creatures (1994).
Was the first person to kiss Kate Winslet in a film (Heavenly Creatures (1994)).
Close friend Emily Deschanel was a bridesmaid at her wedding.
Friends with Joss Whedon.
She had just turned 18 when she made a cameo appearance in The Frighteners (1996), which was her second collaboration with Peter Jackson (the first being Heavenly Creatures (1994)).
Supporter of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and HSUS (The Humane Society of the United States).
(September 25, 2012) Filed for divorce from her husband of five years, Jimmi Simpson, after five months of separation.
(1999-2000) Lived in London with Andrew Howard, whom she met during the filming of The Cherry Orchard (1999).
One of her best friends is Michael Weston, whom she met during the making of Coyote Ugly (2000) (he played her husband in the film). Twelve years later, Weston's real-life father - John Rubinstein - played her character's dad in Hello I Must Be Going (2012).
Showgirls (1995) is one of her favorite movies, along with Blue Velvet (1986), Kicking and Screaming (1995), Naked (1993) and Wet Hot American Summer (2001).
Has appeared in three films (to date) with her friend Gillian Jacobs; Helena from the Wedding (2010), Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012) and The Big Ask (2013).
The directors she'd most like to work with are Noah Baumbach, Jane Campion, Michael Haneke and Nicole Holofcener.
Turned down a role in Mansfield Park (1999) for fear of typecasting - she'd already played a similar part in Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998).
Her father is an orthopedic surgeon and her mother is a real estate agent.
Her favorite authors are Margaret Atwood and Milan Kundera.
Her surname, "Lynskey", is Irish.
Announced to Hollywood Today Live on Thursday, February 16, 2017, that she is engaged to her boyfriend of four years, actor Jason Ritter. They later married sometime before December 2018.
Filmed her first topless scene at the age of 16 opposite Kate Winslet, who was 19, while filming Heavenly Creatures.
Has a daughter (b. December 2018) with her husband Jason Ritter.
Received nominations for Best New Zealand Actress in a Film (The Informant! (2009)) and Best New Zealand Export at the inaugural Visa Entertainment Screen Awards, which took place in Auckland, New Zealand in December 2010.
Starred in a production of Jean Genet's 1947 play "The Maids" at BATS Theatre (Wellington, New Zealand) between 9-15 March, 1997.

Personal Quotes (28)

[on life after Heavenly Creatures (1994)] I think the hardest thing was to go back to school. It's a pretty catty environment at an all-girls school and things happened. For example, 60 Minutes (1993) came to do a story on me and followed me around for a day. At school you just don't need that. And then I would have to go to New York or Sydney for a week and take time out. And while they were amazing experiences, it was hard because I had these two completely separate lives. I think a lot of people resented that. It put me outside of them a bit.
I don't think I'll ever be a movie star.
You always see those movies that have amazing casts, and it's funny to be in one of them. It's a list of all these fantastic people--and, oh, me as well.
If I ever have time off and don't know what's coming up next, I get really nervous and think, 'Oh well, it's probably over.'
I always thought I'd be in New Zealand doing theater. Everything I've done is greater than my greatest dreams.
[on the success of Two and a Half Men (2003)] It seems funny to me that it's all worked so well. I have so much respect for the people who do this. It's so hard to keep the energy up and to make people laugh.
[on working with Charlie Sheen] We get on terribly. I can't stand him. No, he's great. He's really quiet and shy and sweet.
[on Charlie Sheen's reaction to her New Zealand accent] He turned around and said, "What's this, uh, voice? What are you doing?" I said, "I'm just talking." Then he said, "Hmmm. Is that some kind of actor-y thing?"
[on Rose Red (2002)] I wasn't allowed to do anything quirky, or to have an interesting accent. So the challenge lay in making [the character] as interesting as I could without making her unusual. And that was hard!
The first audition I ever did, the casting director said, "I don't know why you're here. You're never going to work in America. You don't look right. You don't have the right kind of personality. I don't even know if you can do an American accent. Maybe you can try England." Other people were nice, but that's the first thing I ever heard when I came here. It made me more determined.
[...] in Montreal, this girl came up to me and said, "Has anyone ever told you that you look like Melanie Lynskey?" Some [people] come up and say that they were in school with me, or that I'm a friend of someone they know.
I feel so grateful when I see a movie and there's a woman who looks somewhat like me. I'm like, "Thank you, Samantha Morton!" You know, a woman who feels like a human being. That means so much to me. If I can be that person for someone, that's a much more powerful thing than me trying to starve myself or shrink myself and become something that I'm not.
I feel like every job I get is kind of a fight. It's jumping through hoops and convincing people I can do it, trying to get people who are financing things to take the chance on somebody who's not famous.
[on working with Steven Soderbergh] It was the greatest experience... If Steven called me up tomorrow and said, "Will you come bring Matt Damon a cup of tea in this scene?" I would say "Yes, absolutely."
[on Hello I Must Be Going (2012)] I assumed they were giving [the part] to Michelle Williams or Maggie Gyllenhaal... It felt like such a gift.
The female actors I have been most inspired by are all very sure of who they are as human beings and as artists. They're solid, good, kind people. They trust their instincts, and are focused on making honest work that moves people. They're kind to the crew, to fellow actors, and to women in general... Even in challenging conditions, they are gracious... The main women who come to mind who have inspired me most having seen them in action are Anjelica Huston, Katrin Cartlidge, Tina Holmes, Jessica Hecht, Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham, Amy Ryan, Catherine O'Hara, and Kathy Najimy.
The most beautiful people to me are those who seem at peace within themselves and give of themselves generously. Also I think eyeliner is magic.
[on her ability to perfect an American accent] When I first came [to Los Angeles] I stayed with Joss Whedon and his wife... He had this insane video collection, and I'd just sit and watch all these films and try to imitate every accent I heard. I remember watching Juliette Lewis and trying to do her white trash accent. I would just talk back to all these movies--they were my dialect coach.
I know a lot of actors have all these expectations and believe that one thing should lead to another thing and that's probably the right way to build a career. I don't know what's wrong with me--I just don't think like that!
I like to play the grey areas in life - that's the most uncomfortable place to be. Nobody likes to be in that in-between state where they don't know what's going to happen. There's a lot of tension in that, and a lot of stuff to play with - where it's uncomfortable and awkward and sad and scary.
[on the idea of a "perfect role"] I feel grateful to be working... I don't have a dream of playing a one-legged Scottish drug addict.
I want to be like Julianne Moore and get to do things that scare me--and keep on doing them until I'm very old.
[on working with Kate Winslet] She had incredible ambition and drive and such a huge belief in herself. And of course, she should have had that belief because she's a fucking genius!
[on Short Cuts (1993)] This movie was a big one for me. I saw it when I was sixteen and [thought] "Yep, that's the dream." I loved the idea of doing a film like that. Still, to this day, this is the movie I most wish I could insert myself into.
When I was doing The Informant! (2009), Matt Damon said something to me that I really have lived by ever since... "At the end of your career, when someone looks over your filmography, all they remember is if the movie was good or not." They're not saying, "Oh, he got to play that crazy character!" or, "Oh, all those people were in that movie"... so, if you consistently choose good scripts - whether you're in three scenes or every scene - you're going to build a very strong résumé. At the end of your life, you'll be in a lot of movies that you can feel proud of, and it's such a nice feeling to be a part of something that you really believe in. So even if it's just a couple of scenes, if I think the movie is good, I'll do it.
[on directors] Everybody has a different style. Clint Eastwood is a great, great director - but he barely says anything. The magical thing about the way he works is that he creates an environment that feels like a church, kind of - it feels so sacred and comfortable - and everybody's just relaxed, doing the best work they can do. It's weird, there's not a lot of talking or communicating... And then there are some directors who talk and talk and talk and talk, like Sam Mendes; you talk about everything and go over everything. So everybody's very different, and I've done movies with first-time directors who are just on it, and amazing. Then, sometimes, I've done movies with people who have directed a few movies, and you're like, "I don't know how to communicate with you; don't know what you're asking me to do right now." It's like a relationship.
The thing that I really, really don't like is when [a director] is overly specific, when you walk into a rehearsal and someone says: "Now you walk over here, and you open the cupboard, and you take this out. Then you stand here and you deliver this line." And they give you line readings. I don't like feeling like somebody doesn't trust me to bring what I'm going to bring to it... I get really claustrophobic when somebody's trying to control it, because then I'm like, "Why? You should have gotten another actor!"
I was really shy as a child. I walked around with a constant fear that I'd say something stupid and be laughed at, or that people were looking at me and thinking I wasn't pretty enough, interesting enough, smart enough. When I discovered acting, I felt an immense freedom. I felt like I could explore different aspects of myself without fear of judgement. I was able to be brave in a way that was really hard for me in real life.

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