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'YellowJackets' star Melanie Lynskey dives into the show's intensity and weirdness


Don't call it "Lost," but "Yellowjackets," a new series on Showtime, does involve a plane crash and mysteries and possibly the supernatural. The show is about a high school girls soccer team that crashes in the wilderness on the way to nationals in 1996, where they remained for 19 months.


MELANIE LYNSKEY: (As Shauna) We agreed, say no more than we have to. And the truth is, the plane crashed. A bunch of my friends died. And then the rest of us starved and scavenged and prayed until they finally found us.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) I think we both know there's more to it than that.

RASCOE: "Yellowjackets" focuses on what happened in 1996 and what's happening with the survivors, adult women 25 years later. One of the stars of the show, Melanie Lynskey, joins us now. Welcome.

LYNSKEY: Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited.

RASCOE: First of all, I should say I am obsessed, really obsessed, with this show. The characters don't fit into neat little boxes. So tell us about your character, Shauna.

LYNSKEY: I mean, that was the thing, honestly, that really appealed to me about the show. My character is an interesting person. She's a very complex person. All of the four adult survivors that Season 1 focuses on are going through different versions of trauma, and I really related to the fact that she's somebody who's just trying to pretend everything's fine when it really, really isn't. She's sort of leading this kind of mundane existence, but, in her heart, looking for something else and just over the course of the season makes a series of poor decisions.

RASCOE: Well, that's one thing about adult Shauna, is that she can kill and skin a rabbit to cook for her family. But she's, like, weirdly naive about the world and it seems like about possible threats. Like, where does that come from?

LYNSKEY: I don't know if she's naive, in as much as she doesn't want to face reality. I think she's smart. I think she's savvy. I mean, you know, early on a reporter comes to ask her some questions, and she immediately does all the digging she needs, and she's like, that's not what's going on here.

RASCOE: Yeah, there's a lot of discussion online about whether there is actually something supernatural going on in the show. Or is it that the situations they're in are so extreme that they seem otherworldly?

LYNSKEY: Within the show, I think it's a question that comes up. I'm loving seeing that response from the audience where people are like, what's happening here? You know, and people are like, what's happening? Some people are excited. I've been very into all the different little pieces like that that are coming in because I think also it's so rooted in reality, and so much of the story is very, very truthful. And the relationships are so real and grounded that I think those elements coming in make it really exciting.

RASCOE: It seems like the show - it's really about, like, trauma and how it affects people and relationships and how it can break relationships but also, like, forge them for good or bad. Have you learned anything about yourself in this role and how maybe you've responded to traumatic situations in your own life?

LYNSKEY: I have actually because there's - you know, I've had some stuff happen in my life. It hasn't always been the easiest. And I think I've responded to that by trying to be a super safe space for everybody around me and just trying to be very open. And I'm not great at taking care of myself. I'm just sort of worried about everybody else. And it's interesting to have played Shauna because of the fact that she's quite cold, and she's very much looking out for herself, and she can be very intense with her boundaries. And it's been kind of liberating for me in those moments to access that part of myself that initially didn't feel very authentic.

RASCOE: The season finale is coming up, and I'm very excited about it. But I've read some quotes from the cast, and they say it's going to be very emotional. I think someone said it's going to make people cry. I know you can't, like, give anything away, but will we get answers about what happened in the woods and, like, who is hounding these women as adults?

LYNSKEY: The last two episodes of the season, there are a lot of answers to the central mysteries of this season. I think the story of exactly what happened in the woods is a longer story because, you know, it's, like, a group of teenage girls. They don't just instantly turn into savages.

RASCOE: Yes. No.

LYNSKEY: It takes some time. And I think the way the show is having those things happen is really real and beautiful. Like, you're getting very invested in every character and in the relationships. And I think when it starts to turn into that, it's going to be very meaningful.

RASCOE: That's Melanie Lynskey, one of the stars of "Yellowjackets" on Showtime. The first season wraps up next week. Thank you so much for being with us.

LYNSKEY: Oh, thanks for having me. It was so fun. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.