Melanie Lynskey talks Candy, Awards Season

Candy -- “Happy Wife, Happy Life” - Episode 102 -- Betty (Melanie Lynskey), shown. (Photo by: Tina Rowden/Hulu)

Melanie Lynskey spoke with Solzy at the Movies about the new Hulu limited series, Candy, and staying grounded during awards season.

Alongside the actress, Candy stars Jessica Biel, Timothy Simons, Pablo Schreiber, and Raúl Esparza. Hulu will launch the limited series on May 9 with new episodes releasing every day through May 13.

Melanie, it’s so good to see you again.

Melanie Lynskey: Good to see you, too. How are you?

Not too bad.

Melanie Lynskey: Good.

What was it about the script that drew you to the role?

Melanie Lynskey: I think the thing was, it was so well written. I really love the narrative structure of it. It’s one of those stories that kind of jumps around in time but it did it in a way that felt very fresh to me. I related to Betty. I’m kind of a shy person and a bit of an awkward person. I don’t have an easy time approaching people—being sort of gregarious, I’m filled with anxiety at all times, socially. So that aspect of her, I found really interesting—I haven’t really played anybody like that so I just felt it. I just understood her.

Were you familiar with Candy Montgomery and Betty Gore’s story before signing on?

Melanie Lynskey: I was a little bit familiar, yeah, I had read the Texas Monthly article, a great long article about it, which I’d found really fascinating. This kind of came out of the blue, this offer to do the show. I was so excited when I read it to see how they had chosen to tell the story. I just thought it was beautiful.

How was it getting to work with Jessica Biel and the rest of the cast?

Melanie Lynskey: Honestly, Jessica’s one of the best actors I’ve ever worked with. She’s so present, she’s so open. She’s willing to go anywhere, the same leads—there are some actors who are very sort of stuck in their performance and they want to give the same performance no matter what. She’s very open to working with you. It feels very exciting to work with her. I didn’t have a lot to do with Tim but it was super fun, the little moments that we had. Pablo is so great. He’s a really kind person, such a good actor. Even though most of our scenes were very sad and depressing, we had a lot of fun with each other, which always makes it easier.

Jason also has a role in the series.

Melanie Lynskey: I know! Yeah. I mean, I didn’t get to work with him because his character only shows up after I’m already deceased. But it was really fun. It was fun that he got to do a little thing. It also makes it easier that he’s not having to travel and go work on a different production. If we both can be in the same place doing the same thing, it makes life easier.

Does that make family life easier especially with having a kid?

Melanie Lynskey: Yeah. It’s really hard when one of us has to be away. It’s hard logistically and it’s hard for whoever’s away and it’s hard for whoever’s there. It’s just a million times more difficult.

What sort of work did you do to prepare for the role?

Melanie Lynskey: Well, the greatest resource, I guess, that we had was this book, Evidence of Love, that was written by John Bloom and Jim Atkinson. It’s such a detailed book, there’s so much. They interviewed everybody you could possibly have wanted to be interviewed and there just was so much in there. Jess and I also got to have a Zoom with Jim, one of the writers. He answered every single question that was just—it was a couple of hours and it was very comprehensive. I felt after that—there’s a little bit of accent work to get the kind of Midwestern accent and putting on all those costumes. Once you put those costumes on, you sort of feel a bit dowdier and a bit more depressed.

How long did it take to get the dialect right?

Melanie Lynskey: It actually wasn’t too bad because about a year before, I had done Don’t Look Up and I worked very extensively on a Midwestern accent for that—the kind of flat As and all that kind of thing were already kind of in there. We had a great dialect coach who was on set with us every day.

It still amazes me that you’re from New Zealand because I would have never guessed it from watching your work in the past with all these American accents!

Melanie Lynskey: That’s good! It would be terrible if you’re like, I always had a feeling (laughs) you were from New Zealand.

Did you have any kind of training when it came to handling the ax?

Melanie Lynskey: No. Because we were working with a prop ax that was very light and safe, the most important thing was our prop guy, Mario, who was amazing, was always kind of reminding us. He’d bring the real axe so we could remember how heavy it was because it’s very, very heavy. Our stunt person, Gaëlle, and our director, Michael, also were very concerned with making it look like we really were swinging an axe. Your body moves differently—when you lift it above your head, your body kind of acts backwards in a way that it doesn’t with a rubber ax—you can just easily go like that. Everybody was kind of helping us remember that we were working with something that was heavy, sharp, and dangerous, not just these little rubber things that we were throwing around.

Watching the screeners the other day, that ax looked so realistic.

Melanie Lynskey: Isn’t it amazing? The prop department on the show is so good. The detail inside the house was so perfect and just everything. The axes were so good.

Melanie Lynskey in Yellowjackets
Melanie Lynskey as Shauna in YELLOWJACKETS. Photo credit: Brendan Meadows/SHOWTIME.

You’ve had quite the last few months with Yellowjackets, Don’t Look Up, and now Candy. How honored were you to take home a pair of Critics Choice Awards for Yellowjackets?

Melanie Lynskey: Oh my gosh. I mean, it was so overwhelming. That whole night is just kind of a blur. It was—I mean, you know me—you know what a fan I am of critics, film writers, and TV writers and people who do what you do for a living. I have such respect for it and such a deep love for it, genuinely. So to get an award from a group of people who I respect so much, it’s the most meaningful thing that could have happened. It really felt like it was for the whole show. The love for the show has been so wonderful when—just to be in the middle of like giving my speech and look over and see the table full of my Yellowjackets castmates and how excited they were, how loving and supportive that whole cast is with each other and with me. It was a very emotional, real once-in-a-lifetime kind of night was amazing.

How do you manage to stay grounded during awards season?

Melanie Lynskey: I’ve never really been involved in award season so this is all very new to me. I remember I saw Kate Winslet right after she won her Oscar and she was talking to me about how much work the campaign was, how hard she was working for it. It basically becomes like a job. I was sort of like, oh my gosh, I can’t even imagine being in that world. To be honest, it’s nice to be in my mid-40s and be part of a project that people are responding to in this way. I just feel so grateful for every opportunity. Every person wants to talk about Yellowjackets or Candy and it’s just a lot of gratitude.

Don't Look Up
Clockwise from top: Rob Morgan as Dr. Clayton “Teddy” Oglethorp, Robert Hurst Radochia as Evan Mindy, Conor Sweeney as Marshall Mindy, Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy, Melanie Lynskey as June Mindy, Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky, and Timothée Chalamet as Yule in Don’t Look Up. Photo credit: Niko Tavernise / Netflix. © 2021.

Since you mentioned Kate, what was it like getting to work opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Don’t Look Up.

Melanie Lynskey: Honestly, it was one of the best experiences. I was such a fan of his as an actor. I’ve always really loved his work since he was a kid. I just think he’s so brilliant and then to get to witness the generosity that he has as an actor. He just gives so much off camera and he’s very spontaneous. He improvises—he’s a great improviser in a way that only adds to the moments and makes it feel fresh and real. He’s also just fun. It’s just really fun and nice .The whole time we were shooting that movie, I was like something has to go wrong (laughs) because this experience just beginning to end has been too perfect. It just stayed perfect. I don’t know. It was just great.

If you could go back in time and offer advice to your younger self at the start of your acting career, what would it be?

Melanie Lynskey: I think my advice would be to just realize that I’m okay as I am. I started out and I was so aware of everything that made me different. I was looking around me like, oh, gosh, all these other girls are so much thinner than me and they’re so much prettier than me and a lot of them are blonde. All these things that I thought were detrimental were my strengths. I just I wish I could have understood sooner that the things about me that were not like everyone else were the things that were going to help me.

Hulu will stream new episodes of Candy on May 9-13, 2022.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.