CART

Melanie Lynskey, Actress


13 - 12 - 18

With a flowing portfolio of film and television, she maintains a refreshingly grounded and holistic approach to her life and work. Melanie chats with us about the life-long development of her craft and the implications of being on screen.


Melanie Lynskey, Actress

Sans Woman

On the beginning of her acting career:

I started acting in school plays and things like that when I was six. My first professional job happened when I was 15. [Melanie played the award-winning role of Pauline Parker in Peter Jackson's film Heavenly Creatures aged 16.]

On which aspects drew her to the craft:

I was really shy as a child, and didn’t have a lot of friends. 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 was able to become another person for the time I was onstage, and I felt like I could explore different aspects of myself without fear of judgement. As a teenager I discovered improv comedy and fell in love with that too. I was able to be brave in a way that was really hard for me in real life.

On playing different characters and how this has transformed her personally:

Yes, absolutely. Something I’m so grateful for is that my work sometimes affords me the opportunity to work personal stuff out in a way that’s really cathartic. Sometimes a character will be going through something that I have been through, and through playing a scene over and over emotions can be processed in a way that feels very healing. Or sometimes I’ll be playing someone and realise, “wow, this person is a lot like so-and-so”. It’s like literally putting yourself in their shoes. Even though I may have been hurt by that person, walking around thinking about their pain, their history, and their motivations makes it impossible to not have empathy, and it’s helped me move on from situations and find forgiveness.

"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 key figures that have been particularly life changing:

I’ve been lucky to work with a number of women who have inspired me and helped me so much. Gaylene Preston was somebody who helped me shape my life into something that I could firstly, manage, and secondly, be proud of. I have an amazing teacher who works with dreams and the unconscious; her name is Kim Gillingham, and she is invaluable. My agent, Rhonda Price, is so smart and so kind and so tough, and she has great taste, and I adore her. My manager, Susan Smith, has been with me since I was seventeen, and let me live in her home when I was starting out. I love her so much. The writer of Hello I Must Be Going (Sarah Koskoff) became a dear friend, and created and trusted me with a character who I feel immensely grateful to have been able to play…that movie was such a wonderful experience for me. And I have met several actresses in a professional capacity who have been so awe-inspiring and have made me think “okay – I want to be like you.”

On inspiring women:

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. They’re generous with their gifts. Even in challenging conditions, they are gracious. It’s important to them to be authentic. And they’re all just brilliant. 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.

On self-image:

It’s hard, honestly. One thing that helps so much is that I know how grateful and happy I feel when I see an image of a woman who looks like a normal human being. So when I start to feel bad about not being as thin or beautiful or wrinkle-free as some other actresses, I think about how some woman somewhere might see an image of me on TV or in a movie and feel a little better about herself, because there’s an image being reflected back of someone who looks like her. It’s so awful for women if we all look the same, and that means more to me than my own vanity.

On vegetarianism:

Since I was ten, although now I eat fish and have to call myself a pescetarian, which sounds so pretentious. I saw a video at school about the New Zealand lamb industry and I guess I really put it together that I was eating animals, and I couldn’t deal with it. It’s so hard for me to not think about them walking around and, you know, living.

On maintaining health and wellbeing:

When I’m not working, I exercise as much as possible… I get really depressed otherwise. I do SoulCycle three to five times a week, boxing two or three times and Pilates two or three times. It’s so easy to eat healthily in LA – there are great organic restaurants everywhere and farmer’s markets pretty much every day. So I have a pretty healthy base. I rarely go away longer than three weeks, so it’s not really enough time to go totally off the rails. But we do work very very long hours, and hotel gyms are just little sad boxes. It’s so hard for me to motivate myself to do exercise I don’t love. But I bring an ipod to make a treadmill bearable, and healthy snacks and protein bars with me on location. I also bring my favourite candle, which is the Diptyque Maquis candle, because then wherever I’m staying at least smells like home.

On what beauty means:

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.

"...sometimes I’ll be playing someone and realise, “wow, this person is a lot like so-and-so”. It’s like literally putting yourself in their shoes. Even though I may have been hurt by that person, walking around thinking about their pain, their history, and their motivations makes it impossible to not have empathy, and it’s helped me move on from situations and find forgiveness."

Sans Journal

Sustenance

Parmesan & Cracked Pepper Chickpea Socca

I discovered this recipe through the amazing chef Shaun Bennett. When asked what his most memorable meal was, he said Socca..

View recipe

Shopping Cart

Your Products

Total 5 Items

Rotate your phone to view the site.