Women In Cinema: Melanie Lynskey


This past week I’ve been quite blocked on who to write about for this column, so I went around asking who should be this week’s topic of conversation. I got numerous amounts of names but only one stuck out; I had to look this actress up because I didn’t know her by name. So, I pick this actress because I don’t want anybody who considers them self a film enthusiast making the mistake I did; not recognizing an actress by name, having seen 90% of their work. This week’s lady of choice is Melanie Lynskey.

The underrated but perfect supporting actress, Melanie Lynskey was born May 16, 1977 in New Plymouth, New Zealand. Lynskey was in High School when Peter Jackson’s wife, Frances Walsh, discovered her and cast her as the teenager murderess in Heavenly Creatures (1994). Following the film’s success Lynskey moved to Los Angeles, but like many aspiring actresses she faced a lot of rejection, but not for her acting; looks and body physique were to blame.

Lynskey spent six weeks getting rejected and eventually moved back to New Zealand where she spent 18 months studying film, theater and English at Victoria University. Two years following her debut role in Heavenly Creatures, Peter Jackson cast her yet again in his film, The Frighteners (1996).

After being featured in two films, Lynskey, with the help from her friend and director Gaylene Preston, changed her approach to acting and was advised to become a stronger person to handle the rejection of Hollywood. The changed helped as Lynskey earned a role in her first blockbuster film, Ever After (1998). She co-starred alongside Angelica Huston and Drew Barrymore as the not so evil step sister to the Cinderella like character.

Her role in Ever After gained Lynskey a lot of recognition and appeared in many films the following year. She had supporting roles in Foreign Correspondents (1999), Detroit Rock City (1999), But, I’m a Cheerleader (1999) and The Cherry Orchard (1999). Following these films, she costarred in a very well known film, Coyote Ugly (2000).

In 2002, Lynskey played her first television role in Stephen King’s miniseries, Rose Red. Continuing on the path of television, she also appeared on The Shield for two episodes. She can also be seen guest starring in television shows such as Drive, The L Word, Psych and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. That same year she appeared in such films as Abandon alongside Katie Holmes and Sweet Home Alabama supporting Reese Witherspoon.

2003 was a huge year for Lynskey, not because she won an award but won a role on one of the most popular sitcoms today, Two and Half Men. She was cast as Rose, Charlie Sheen’s sweet intelligent neighbor who is also an ex-fling but Charlie’s stalker. Lynskey fits in perfectly with the cast as she brings so much fun and humor to the character of Rose. Everything she says is funny and the way she presents it is even funnier. Her character on the show is a character I love seeing and wait to see in every episode. In 2007, Lynskey left the show but will still make guest appearances when it’s necessary. Also in 2003, she costarred alongside Hayden Christensen and Peter Sarsgaard in Shattered Glass.

Since becoming better known by joining the cast of Two and Half Men, Lynskey has had to opportunity to work with some of the best in the business. She costarred in Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers (2006), Sam Mendes’s Away We Go (2009), Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant! (2009), Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air (2009) costarred alongside Edward Norton in Leaves of Grass, and most recently Thomas McCarthy’s Win Win (2011).

I have always enjoyed Melanie Lynskey in almost everything she is in and I’m extremely disappointed at myself for not knowing her by name. I am always pleasantly surprised when I’m watching a film and she just pops up out of nowhere. She adds that extra something to the movie because she seems so real on screen; when a character she is playing gives out advice, she makes you feel like she’s talking to you. It seems as though her method of acting makes it easy for someone in the audience to relate to her. She always seems to play the comic relief character or the person there to give you advice and face you in the right direction, sometimes with just a look.

I know that I have focused a lot on award winning actresses in my series of Women in Cinema and this seems out of the ordinary but we have an actress here who gives more to a film in 10 minutes than a lot of actors do in a full movie. She may never be Hollywood’s leading lady but to me she is the perfect supporting feel good actress. In my opinion, it seems as though she chooses fun characters that always seem to send a message. She’s always so much fun to watch and I wish for her to have so much more success in her career because she has a talent that is destined for more.

So, someone tell me that I’m not the only person who just learned a lot more about an actress that is very enjoyable to watch.