We’ve got to hand it to the casting department for “Yellowjackets” — part of the show not only takes place in the ’90s, but the cast for the present-day timeline is stacked with a plethora of ’90s film and TV icons, like Juliette Lewis. Another example is Melanie Lynskey, whose career dates back to 1994. But though a few decades have passed, Lynskey's career is still in its prime. Case in point: She’s nominated at this year's Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Shauna in “Yellowjackets” — a role for which she also garnered an Emmy nod in 2022.
Regardless of whether Lynskey takes home the gold statue when the Emmy Awards air on FOX on Jan. 15, we recommend checking out the below projects from her extensive body of work, including another show that led Lynskey to a second Emmy nomination this year.
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@cordcutting.com With the #emmys2024 approaching, we want to give some love to #yellowjackets star and #emmynominee, Melanie Lynskey 😍 #awardshows #primetimeemmys #awardseason2024 ♬ original sound – CordCutting.com
‘The Last of Us’ (2023 to Present)
In addition to being nominated for lead actress for her role in “Yellowjackets,” Lynskey was also up for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series at this month's Emmys thanks to her guest spot on “The Last Of Us” (The honor was ultimately awarded to her co-star, Storm Reid, at the Creative Arts Emmys on Jan. 6.). Interestingly, while Lynskey's “Yellowjackets” character is terrifying in its own way, her part in “The Last of Us” is a true villain.
In this post-apocalyptic series based on a popular video game, Lynskey’s Kathleen is hell-bent on vengeance after her brother is killed. She serves as the leader of a revolutionary movement in Kansas City, and she doesn’t shy away from using violence to get what she wants. Lynskey appears in two episodes of the series, which were enough to capture attention. “The Last of Us” can be streamed exclusively on Max.
If you're a fan of true crime in any fashion, “Candy” will be right up your alley. Set in Texas in the late 1970s and early 1980s, “Candy” tells the real-life story of a love triangle of sorts involving two housewives named Candy Montgomery and Betty Gore, played by Jessica Biel and Lynskey, respectively. After an affair with Betty's husband, Candy is accused of murdering her with an ax.
As depicted in the five-episode limited series, Lynskey’s Betty is a deeply lonely woman, seemingly uninterested in her own marriage. Her portrayal of Betty feels real and heartfelt, making her end all the more tragic. The part also scored Lynskey a Critics' Choice nomination.
While the show is dark, here's a fun fact: Both Biel and Lynskey's respective husbands — Justin Timberlake and Jason Ritter — appear in the series too. Watch “Candy” on Hulu.
‘Don’t Look Up’ (2021)
If you enjoy some quality satire, the next pick on our list will certainly appeal to you. The 2021 film “Don’t Look Up,” directed by Adam McKay, is a satirical sci-fi film that follows two astronomers who discover a world-ending comet headed straight for Earth. Littered with a talented cast, “Don’t Look Up” highlights the shortcomings within our government when it comes to topics such as climate change.
Lynskey portrays Leonardo DiCaprio’s character's wife, June Mindy. Though her role in the film isn’t large, it's more than impactful, with her hurling a bottle of prescription medication DiCaprio’s way after (spoiler alert!) catching his character cheating. With DiCaprio and Lynskey joined by the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Timothée Chalamet, Jonah Hill, and Tyler Perry, “Don’t Look Up” was nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture at the SAG Awards. The movie is available to stream exclusively on Netflix.
‘Castle Rock’ (2018 to 2019)
If you’re in the market for something on the spookier side, the psychological-thriller anthology series, “Castle Rock,” may catch your attention as it did ours. The two-season show, which premiered in 2018, centers on the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine. In the first season, an attorney by the name of Henry Deaver (Andre Holland) returns to the town under mysterious circumstances after years away.
Lynskey portrays a woman named Molly Strand. Molly is a local real estate agent in Castle Rock who possesses special psychic abilities that seem to connect her to Henry in some way. With 10 episodes in the first season, the twists and turns bring viewers deep into the Stephen King universe. “Castle Rock” is available to stream on Hulu.
‘I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore’ (2017)
“Yellowjackets” isn’t the first time Lynksey and Elijah Wood have worked on the same project. The 2017 film “I Don’t Feel at Home In This World Anymore” brought them together in a dark comedy centered on Lynksey’s character, Ruth. She is met with one misfortune after another, and things kick off when Ruth's home is burglarized. She enlists her neighbor, Tony, played by Wood, on her quest to retrieve her stolen belongings, and the two face off against a trio of violent criminals.
Both Lynskey and Wood shine bright in the film, and the actress has even said this is her favorite project she's ever worked on. Her chemistry on-screen with Wood is delightful, and we're hoping to see them together in Season 3 of “Yellowjackets.” In the meantime, “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore” is available to stream on Netflix.
‘Togetherness’ (2015 to 2016)
Although this show lasted only two seasons, HBO’s “Togetherness” is a fan-favorite among Lynksey's supporters. Created by the Duplass brothers, with Mark Duplass also starring on the show, “Togetherness” gives us a peek into the lives of two California couples who share a home together. Lynskey portrays Michelle, who is married to Duplass’ Brett. The couple faces conflict in their marriage and monotonous everyday lives, along with the struggles that come with raising two children in today’s world.
Over the course of the two seasons, “Togetherness” puts on full display the realities that come with being an adult. The show explores the idea of finding happiness in everyday life while managing the challenges faced along the way. Lynskey, who received a Critics' Choice nomination for her role, has spoken at length since the show’s cancellation about being on board for a Season 3 should the show ever be revived. You can watch the existing episodes on Max, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.
‘Two and a Half Men’ (2003 to 2015), ‘Hello I Must Be Going’ (2012), ‘Ever After: A Cinderella Story’ (1998), 'Heavenly Creatures' (1994)
Lynskey’s filmography covers a range of projects, but the CBS sitcom “Two and a Half Men” is one of her most well-known series. Lynskey’s role as off-the-wall neighbor Rose throughout the show's 12 seasons brought her into the spotlight in a new way. Her character obsesses over Charlie Sheen’s lead character, also named Charlie, but we won't reveal how things end between them. “Two and a Half Men” is available to stream on Peacock.
While much of Lynskey's career has involved supporting roles, she truly takes center stage in “Hello I Must Be Going,” where she’s present in every single scene. The 2012 film tells the story of a 35-year-old woman who is forced to move back in with her parents after a divorce. A secret relationship with a 19-year-old boy gives her a necessary boost of self-confidence. Director Todd Louiso revealed in interviews that Lynskey was the only actress he wanted for the lead role. You can stream “Hello I Must Be Going” on Hulu and Paramount+.
Everyone loves a good fairytale, and the 1998 film “Ever After” reimagines the Cinderella classic we all know and love. Drew Barrymore stars as the lead, Danielle, who essentially becomes her stepmother’s servant after her father passes away. Lynskey is Jacqueline, Danielle’s “nice” stepsister. When Barrymore’s character marries the Prince at the end of the movie, Jacqueline is spared from punishment because of her kindness to Danielle. “Ever After” is available to stream on Hulu and Disney+.
The last entry on our list is what initially put Lynksey on the map. Based on a true story from the 1950s, “Heavenly Creatures” tells the tale of two teenage girls — played by Lynskey and Kate Winslet — who come up with a deadly plan. Not wanting to be separated by a move, the two scheme to kill one of their mothers. “Heavenly Creatures,” directed by Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame, received critical acclaim after its 1994 release and garnered Lynskey a Best Actress win at the New Zealand Film and Television Awards. See why by streaming “Heavenly Creatures” on Hulu or Netflix.
What's your favorite Melanie Lynskey project? Tell us in the comments below!