Melanie Lynskey on Her 'Yellowjackets' Emmy Nom and Getting Into Trouble Over Spoilers (Exclusive)

Melanie Lynskey
Getty Images

Melanie Lynskey talks to ET about the recognition she's received for the series and how husband Jason Ritter reacted to the Emmy news.

Thanks to Yellowjackets, Melanie Lynskey is having the biggest year of her career. The role of Shauna, one of the adult survivors of a plane crash that left her and her teammates stranded in the Canadian Rockies 25 years prior, has garnered the actress multiple awards this past year culminating in her first-ever Emmy nomination. 

On Tuesday, it was revealed that Lynskey was nominated in the Lead Actress category while the Showtime series received a total of seven nominations, including one for Outstanding Drama Series and another acting nod for her co-star Christina Ricci.  

“I’m not used to this. This is my first nomination. I’m not used to having these mornings where people are like, ‘Congratulations.’ So, it’s really, really lovely,” Lynskey says by phone.

While she is deservingly getting praise from friends and co-stars, the actress says she “burst into tears” when she saw that Ricci was also nominated this morning. “I texted her right away. I was just so thrilled,” Lynskey says. “She’s amazing in that role.” 

Of course, the excitement didn’t stop there. While speaking to ET, Lynskey shares how her husband Jason Ritter reacted to the Emmy news, what all the recognition means to her, and how she got in trouble for leaking spoilers for season 2. 

ET: I feel like your husband has been your biggest cheerleader all awards season. So, I was curious how he reacted and how he took in the news of your Emmy nomination. 

Melanie Lynskey: He’s so excited. We had a little cry… I mean, it’s really sweet. He made some toast for me while I was in the middle of talking to people. He made some toast that he cut into the shape of the word “Emmy,” which took a lot of time I think. And it was really cute. So yeah, he’s really happy. And it’s nice he’s not the only Emmy nominee in the house anymore. 

Considering how great it was to see you both on Candy earlier this year, I think fans are now hoping that we can somehow get Jason on Yellowjackets. Do you think that’s possible or what that be too weird to have him on the show? 

First of all, we love working at the same time, in the same place, which is kind of why he did Candy. Because then he didn’t have to travel to go somewhere else for work. We like to be able to keep the family together if we can. I think he’s so talented. I would love for him to be on Yellowjackets. But also, I want the creative team to do exactly what they want to do ‘cause I trust them. So, they know what’s best, always. 

This role has garnered so much awards attention and now an Emmy nomination. What is about Shauna or the series that you think has resonated so much with fans and critics alike? 

I think it’s just so well written. I think that they’ve created these characters who are all complex and difficult and messy, and I think people can see themselves in all of these women. As crazy as these women are, they’re also relatable and they’re recognizable. And I think that there’s an element of the show that’s really channeling the rage that a lot of women feel, especially at this moment in time, and it’s satisfying to see that, to see women who are angry and who are feeling a lot of things. And I just love that it’s resonated in the way it has.

One of my favorite things about talking to you and reading your other interviews is how much trust and faith you seem to have in the creators of the show. I feel like not many actors are fully on board with not knowing where things are going. And so, I just love the way that you are just so invested in what they’re doing with the series.

It takes a long time for me to trust people. But once I do, like, once you’ve earned my trust, you have it. Like, they answered all my questions in season 1. They had a plan and they executed their plan in a way that I thought was brilliant. And I just trust that I know that they know what they’re doing, and it’s a really lovely position to be in. My job is just showing up and saying these words, which is pretty amazing.


When it comes to season 2, have you had that huddle yet? Are you planning to have another huddle to kind of dig into what’s coming? 

I would like to. I want to do it when they’re ready. I don’t wanna push anybody. I can’t imagine the pressure that’s on them. Like, imagine writing the show and having it get the response it has gotten and then having to write another season. What a nightmare. I would be so stressed out. So, I think the last thing they need is some actor who’s like, “Guys, what’s happening?” I just want them to have some breathing room.

With filming coming up at the end of the summer, how are you preparing for season 2 and getting back into the role of Shauna? 

You know, the good thing about the show is it felt like it was within me from the moment I read the pilot. It felt like I knew her. And then, I think over the course of the season I really built this character with Sophie Nélisse, who plays young Shauna, and I was so inspired by her and her performance and what she was bringing to it. And so, that’s the main thing I wanna do when we get back to Vancouver is sit down with Sophie after we’ve read the first script and have a talk and just, you know, do it the way we’ve been doing it ‘cause I felt like it worked. 

What are you most looking forward to when it comes to playing Shauna in season 2?

Honestly, in season 1, every scene that I got I would be like, “Oh fun.” Like, I get to work with Juliette Lewis, I get to work with Tawny Cypress, I get to work with Christina Ricci, I get to work with Warren Kole and Sarah Desjardins, I get to work with Peter Gadiot. Like, everyone was fun. I just loved that everyone was so different. People’s approaches are so different and it just was a very, very creatively fulfilling time. So, I just hope that I get to have scenes with all of them again. Well, not Peter because he died. RIP. But everybody else, I just love working with all these people. So, I’m just excited for all of it.  

Earlier this year, you teased to ET that the show is adding new adult survivors. And I was just curious, given the tight-knit group that you created with the women in season 1, are you looking forward to expanding that group and bringing on some new cast members?  

Well, first of all, I said that because I thought that somebody had said that in an interview. I was like, “Didn’t [executive producer] Jonathan Lisco say that?” And they were like, “No, Jonathan Lisco did not say that in an interview.” So, I don’t actually know if there’s gonna be… [Laughs] I’m so embarrassed. You’re getting the scoop that I don’t know what I’m talking about. I really thought that he had said that in an interview. So, that was based on absolutely nothing. So, I don’t know if there’s gonna be older survivors or what there’s gonna be. But I don’t envy anybody coming into our group. We’re all kind of tough in our own ways. And we feel very lucky that we like each other so much, the four of us old ladies. I think if there are new people, we’ll be welcoming but none of us are especially easy. So, we’ll see. 

It’s too early to tell what the Emmy nom will do for your career, but how has Yellowjackets changed the game for you, especially with all the recognition and accolades, and where things are headed moving forward? 

I don’t really know. With my career, I already felt very lucky to be in the position I was in. So, I don’t know if anything’s gonna be different. I’ve never really had to worry about, like, carving time out for publicity. I’ve always done, like, two-day junkets for whatever independent movie I was in and that’s been it. So, a new thing for me is magazines and publicity and stuff like that. I feel very lucky I like my publicist so much ‘cause I’m communicating with them a lot. Other than that, I am just excited that we get to make more and hopefully more seasons of Yellowjackets.

Well, at least in season 1, you had such a positive reaction with the fandom. And I know you’ve talked about engaging with them to a point on certain platforms. But it seems like everybody is truly behind you in all of this.

I think inevitably somebody’s gonna be disappointed about whatever happens in season 2 ‘cause people are so invested in the story and people have created their own stories. From what I could see when I was still looking at Reddit, it seemed like people had all kinds of ideas about where they wanted it to go. I hope that the majority of people are happy. I think our writers are so brilliant and I think that wherever they take the story is gonna be the best place for the story to go. I trust that completely. So, what I hope is that the fans are just willing to go along for the ride and just see what happens and have fun.

The 74th Primetime Emmy Awards will be handed out live Monday, Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on NBC and Peacock.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.