Melanie Lynskey, despite being best known at the moment for her role on TV’s Two and a Half Men, has amassed an impressive list of acting credits since first appearing in Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures at 16. She also has appeared in the Oscar-nominated Flags of Out Fathers and Up in the Air and independent films like Win Win and Hello, I Must Be Going, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Lynskey talks about how she built her career to Interview Magazine.
While Lynskey had the ambition to be an actor and admits it wasn’t difficult getting his first role in Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures, she does explain that it was difficult landing future roles, saying, “I always wanted to be an actor, but I had this whole plan to go to a good drama school and do it that way. I wasn’t trying to get into movies; someone came to my high school and auditioned some girls, so it was a complete accident. I lived in a pretty small, provincial town in New Zealand; there weren’t agents or anything like that, so I just had no way of going about it. I just thought ‘All right, I’ll carry on with that plan that I had to go to drama school.’ So yeah, there was a good straight year where I wasn’t working as an actor but it didn’t seem like such a crazy thing, I didn’t really have a fear of not being able to make it happen, because it seemed so impossible anyway.”
Luckily, Lynskey found an agent who went out of her way to nurture the young actress. She explains, “I got an agent in LA, but I didn’t know how [to move to LA or]what the procedure was and was said, ‘You can come stay with me.’ So she let me come stay with her and I started to go on auditions and eventually I got a movie, I was 19, named Ever After. It was a big-budget sort of Hollywood movie and I’d never done auditions before, so people like Drew Barrymore and Anjelica Huston were so kind and helpful, giving me advice and giving me support. That was how I got back into my acting life”
Still, Lynskey admits that the whirlwind way she ended up an actress was ultimately beneficial, pointing out, “I kind of had the best start possible you could have to your career. I learnt everything on that job, and I feel like if I could go back and tell myself anything it would be to give myself a break; [laughs] just that I can do it and not have so much stress. I spent a lot of time sort of going, ‘Oh, I don’t know if I’m good enough,’ And I feel a lot better about myself now, so that’s the only thing I would change.”
It appears Lynskey would like to continue acting in independent films like Hello, I Must Be Going, mainly because she enjoys the mutual drive held by the cast and crew to complete the project. She says her favorite film experiences are “Probably small indie films, where everyone is there because they love it and everyone is in the same situation, there’s no hierarchy where the actors are making a bunch of money, there’s no crazy producer. It’s just a really nice [environment], everyone is staying in the same crappy hotel.”