Melanie Lynskey

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Melanie Lynskey
Melanie Lynskey at the premiere of The Meddler, 2015 Toronto Film Festival -a (cropped).jpg
Born (1977-05-16) 16 May 1977 (age 43)
NationalityNew Zealand
Alma materVictoria University of Wellington
OccupationActress, voice actress
Years active1994–present
Works
Full list
Spouse(s)
(m. 2007; div. 2014)
Partner(s)Jason Ritter (2013–)
Children1
AwardsFull list

Melanie Jayne Lynskey (born 16 May 1977) is a New Zealand actress and voice actress. She is the recipient of several accolades, including a New Zealand Film Award, a Hollywood Film Award, and a Sundance Special Jury Award, as well as Critics' Choice Award, Gotham Award and Golden Nymph Award nominations.

Lynskey made her film debut at age 17, starring as a teenage murderer in Heavenly Creatures (1994). After moving to the United States, she built a career playing supporting parts in films such as Ever After (1998), Detroit Rock City, But I'm a Cheerleader (both 1999), Coyote Ugly (2000), Abandon, Sweet Home Alabama (both 2002), Shattered Glass (2003), Flags of Our Fathers (2006), Away We Go, Up in the Air, The Informant!, Leaves of Grass (all 2009), Win Win (2011), Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and The Perks of Being a Wallflower (both 2012).

Lynskey received critical praise for her performance in Hello I Must Be Going (2012), which proved to be a turning point in her career.[1] Subsequent lead roles in Happy Christmas, We'll Never Have Paris, Goodbye to All That (all 2014), The Intervention, Rainbow Time, Little Boxes (all 2016), I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore, And Then I Go (both 2017) and Sadie (2018) have established her as a prominent figure in the American independent film community.[2]

Outside of film, Lynskey achieved fame with her portrayal of Rose on the sitcom Two and a Half Men (2003–2015). From 2015 to 2016, she starred as Michelle Pierson on the HBO series Togetherness, for which she earned a nomination for the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She provided the voices of Beatrice for Cartoon Network's Over the Garden Wall (2014) and Megan for Disney XD's Future-Worm! (2016–2018). She also starred as Molly Strand on Hulu's Castle Rock (2018) and played Rosemary Thomson in the miniseries Mrs. America (2020). Lynskey is engaged to actor Jason Ritter; they have one child.

Early life[edit]

Lynskey was born in New Plymouth, New Zealand, to Kay Lynskey, a former nurse, and Tim Lynskey, an orthopedic surgeon.[3] She is the oldest of five children, and has three brothers and one sister.[3] Her surname is Irish.[3]

During her childhood, Lynskey's family moved to England for one year before returning to New Zealand.[3] She attended New Plymouth Girls' High School, where she was involved in the drama department and school plays.[3] After high school, Lynskey studied at Victoria University of Wellington.[4]

Career[edit]

1994–2002: Film debut and early work[edit]

Peter Jackson gave Lynskey her first film role in Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Lynskey made her professional acting debut at age 17, starring in Heavenly Creatures, a psychological drama based on the Parker–Hulme murder case. Lynskey played Pauline Parker, a teenager who carries out a brutal crime with the assistance of her best friend (played by Kate Winslet). She auditioned for the role when a casting director visited her high school;[5] prior to this, 500 girls had been considered for the part of Pauline, but "none were right".[6] Fran Walsh—the film's co-writer—admired Lynskey's "quiet intensity", and said, "we knew immediately that she was right for the role".[6] The film, which was directed by Peter Jackson, was met with critical acclaim upon its release in 1994.[7][8] Roger Ebert praised Jackson for casting "the right two actresses", noting that "there is a way Lynskey has of looking up from beneath glowering eyebrows that lets you know her insides are churning".[9] Writing for Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman described Lynskey as "extraordinary",[10] while Richard Corliss wrote in his review for Time, "The film's serendipitous stroke was to find Winslet and, especially, Lynskey, a first-time actress. They are perfect, fearless in embodying teenage hysteria".[11]

Heavenly Creatures is recognized as a landmark in New Zealand cinema.[12][13][14] It was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the 67th Academy Awards,[15] while Lynskey was named Best Actress at the 1995 New Zealand Film and Television Awards.[1] She regards working with Jackson and Winslet as an important learning experience.[16][17] During the making of the film she grew particularly close to Winslet, who later said, "Mel is like the left side of my body. [We] had the exact relationship in terms of communication and love that Pauline and Juliet had. From the minute we saw each other".[18]

Following a two-year gap—during which she attended university and auditioned for a part in The Crucible (1996)[17]—Lynskey secured a leading role in the independent drama Foreign Correspondents, which was filmed in Los Angeles in 1997 and gained attention for its use of crowdfunding, a strategy that was considered a "genuine breakthrough" at the time.[19] That same year, she was cast as Drew Barrymore's "charming and funny" stepsister in Ever After,[20] an epic re-imagining of the Cinderella story. The film was a commercial and critical success upon its release in 1998.[21][22]

In 1999, Lynskey appeared in four features: teen comedy Detroit Rock City, an adaptation of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, British gangster drama Shooters, and cult hit romantic comedy But I'm a Cheerleader, which is often referred to as one of the best LGBT films ever made.[23][24] Next, she adopted a New Jersey accent[25] for a key role in Coyote Ugly (2000) and starred as an adventurous drifter in the award-winning[26] Snakeskin (2001), which screened at the Cannes Film Festival.[27] For the latter, she received strong reviews[28][27] and a nomination for Best Actress at the Nokia New Zealand Film Awards.[26]

In 2002, Lynskey re-teamed with director Andy Tennant—whom she previously worked with on Ever After—to play a childhood acquaintance of Reese Witherspoon in the romantic comedy Sweet Home Alabama, which had a record-breaking opening weekend in North America.[29] In recent years, the scene in which Lynskey's character (Lurlynn) nurses her baby in a crowded bar has been noted for its cultural relevance.[30] Next, she appeared alongside Katie Holmes in psychological thriller Abandon, the directorial debut of Stephen Gaghan. The film received negative reviews from critics, but Lynskey's performance was considered to be one of its strong points, with Todd McCarthy of Variety pointing out that she "does some self-conscious scene stealing".[31] That same year, she made her television debut in Rose Red, a miniseries written by Stephen King. The series was a ratings hit with an average of 18.5 million viewers over three consecutive nights.[32]

2003–2011: Supporting film roles and Two and a Half Men[edit]

In 2003, Lynskey played a writer for The New Republic in Shattered Glass, a film based on the career of former journalist Stephen Glass. Jeff Otto of IGN called it "a tension-filled drama with great performances".[33] Later that year, she landed the part of Rose, the devious but lovable neighbor of Charlie Harper (played by Charlie Sheen) on the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men. After initially appearing in the pilot episode as a guest character, Lynskey was invited to become a series regular and went on to appear frequently throughout the show's first two seasons.[34] Despite leaving the main cast in 2005 to concentrate on film work,[35] she continued to make guest appearances on the show up until its final episode, which aired in February 2015.[36]

Honestly, doing three or four episodes a year enabled me to pay my mortgage and do independent films. I had this double life: I had this whole indie side of my career, and people in that world didn't know I was on this huge sitcom. Then, people would recognize me from Two and a Half Men and think that I never had another job. But I couldn't have done one without the other.

— Lynskey, November 2016[37]

In 2006, Lynskey appeared as the wife of Rene Gagnon in the Clint Eastwood-directed war film Flags of Our Fathers. Writing for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Burl Burlingame called it "the richest testament Hollywood has yet made about the paroxysm of World War II ... an astounding movie on every level".[38] The following year, she played one of the principal characters—a woman desperate to get away from her abusive husband—on the short-lived television series Drive, which was cancelled by FOX midway through its first season run.[39] In her review for the Los Angeles Times of the series' first two episodes, Mary McNamara described Lynskey as "especially compelling".[40]

In 2008, Lynskey had a supporting role in the three-part Western miniseries Comanche Moon, which aired on CBS. The series received mixed reviews from critics, but People commented that Lynskey's performance was among the "best" in the cast.[41] Later that year, she returned to New Zealand to star in the romantic drama Show of Hands, for which she earned a nomination for Best Actress at the Qantas Film and Television Awards.[42]

Lynskey received strong reviews in 2009 for Away We Go, a comedy-drama directed by Sam Mendes in which she played a woman who has suffered a series of miscarriages. Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe called it "the best performance in the movie".[43] Next, she co-starred as Matt Damon's wife, Ginger, in Steven Soderbergh's dark comedy The Informant!. The film—which is based on real events—was described as "devilish fun" by Rolling Stone,[44] while Geoffrey Macnab said that Lynskey provided "sterling support" in his review for The Independent.[45] Soderbergh told the Los Angeles Times, "She is so watchable. You never quite know what you're going to get, you just know it's going to be good. Her rhythms are really unusual, like her cadence and her reaction times to things, and the way she sort of lays out a sentence. It's just really, really interesting".[46] While making the film, Soderbergh discouraged Lynskey from contacting the real person on which her character was based, as he wanted her to reach her own conclusion about whether Ginger had been involved in her husband's crimes. "I decided she had no idea what was going on", she later said. "She was trusting, she was the kind of wife who thinks her job is to stay in the house and take care of the kids ... even though some things didn't necessarily add up ... She wasn't asking too many questions".[47] Lynskey counts her time working on The Informant! as one of her favorite experiences.[48]

Lynskey promoting Up in the Air (2009) at the Toronto International Film Festival

Matt Damon said something to me that I really have lived by ever since ... “At the end of your career, when someone looks over your filmography, all they remember is if the movie was good or not. They’re not saying, ‘Oh, he [played] that crazy character!’ [or] ‘Oh, all those people were in that movie’ ... all people know is if the movie was good or not” ... so, if you consistently choose good scripts ... you’re going to build a very strong résumé.

— Lynskey, September 2012[49]

Also in 2009, she appeared as Edward Norton's pregnant fiancée in Tim Blake Nelson's Leaves of Grass and as George Clooney's younger sister in Up in the Air. The latter, which was directed by Jason Reitman, was nominated in six categories—including Best Picture—at the 82nd Academy Awards.[50] Reitman had never before cast a foreigner to play an American character in one of his films,[46] but Lynskey said that she "tricked" him into giving her the part by not speaking to him during her audition, therefore concealing her native accent. Reitman said he was "thrilled" by this.[51] In October 2009, Lynskey was presented with a Spotlight Award at the Hollywood Film Festival.[52]

In 2010, Lynskey had a starring role in Helena from the Wedding, which Jon Frosch of The Hollywood Reporter called a "wise, luminous low-budget comedy", adding, "The actors form a seamless ensemble, but [the film] belongs to ... Lynskey".[53] The following year, she received praise for her portrayal of Cindy—a recovering drug addict—in Win Win,[54][55] where she co-starred with Paul Giamatti. In his review for The Hollywood Reporter, David Rooney commended the film's director (Tom McCarthy) for his "unerring touch with minor-key character-based comedy and emotionally honest drama", while noting that Lynskey "brings welcome soft shadings to the story's disruptive element".[56] Meanwhile, Mary Pols said in her review for Time that "[Lynskey] has become one of the most reliably intriguing supporting actresses in film ... she had [parts in] Away We Go, The Informant! and Up in the Air ... she was wonderful in all three. In [this] she gives a very different kind of performance and is even better".[57]

2012–2016: Transition to lead roles and greater success[edit]

In 2012, Lynskey appeared alongside Steve Carell in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and had a key role in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, playing the mentally troubled Aunt Helen.[58] Due to the nature of the character, Lynskey said it had been a difficult decision to take the part.[59] Also that year, she starred in the romantic comedy Putzel, with Mark Hinson of the Tallahassee Democrat writing that her performance "steals the show ... [the film] sparks to life whenever the charming Lynskey arrives on the screen".[60]

Lynskey's portrayal of Amy—a divorcee who finds herself having to move back in with her parents—in Hello I Must Be Going (2012) was particularly well received by critics.[61][62] For the first time in her career, Lynskey appeared in every scene throughout the film; she described the experience as "a lot of pressure", and said that she initially assumed the part would be given to somebody like Michelle Williams or Maggie Gyllenhaal.[63] Speaking of his decision to cast Lynskey, director Todd Louiso said, "I knew if I cast her, the film had the potential to resonate on a thousand different levels".[63] In his review for the Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turan wrote, "If you know the name Melanie Lynskey, you're already planning to see her in Hello I Must Be Going. If you don't, this film will have you making up for lost time. That's how good an actress she is".[64] USA Today praised the film for being "funny, well-written, involving and emotionally honest", while noting that "Lynskey brings dimension and intelligence" and a "sympathetic blend of humor, dignity and naturalness to the role".[65] The performance earned her a nomination for the Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Actor.[66] In 2015, Screen Rant placed Lynskey's portrayal of Amy at #6 on their list of the '20 Best Acting Performances of The Last 5 Years'.[67]

In 2013, Lynskey had a starring role in The Big Ask, an independent comedy-drama. The film received a mixed reception from critics, but Lynskey's portrayal of Hannah was roundly praised.[68][69][70] In April the following year, she was named an Emerging Master honoree at the RiverRun International Film Festival.[71] Her next role was in Happy Christmas (2014), where she played Kelly, an aspiring novelist whose passion for writing is rekindled when her sister-in-law (played by Anna Kendrick) comes to visit. The film drew attention for being almost entirely improvised.[72] Stephen Holden of The New York Times commented, "The performances in Happy Christmas are so natural that the actors melt into their characters",[73] while other critics singled out Lynskey as a highlight.[74][75] Later that year, she appeared as Amy Poehler's best friend in David Wain's They Came Together, and played the female leads in We'll Never Have Paris and Goodbye to All That. In his review of the latter, Bilge Ebiri described Lynskey as "fantastic".[76] Next, she provided the voice of Beatrice, an ill-tempered bluebird, for the Cartoon Network miniseries Over the Garden Wall. Kevin Johnson of The A.V. Club noted, "Lynskey steals the show with her amazing putdowns and passive-aggressiveness, smartly avoiding overdone sass or sarcasm".[77] The series went on to receive three Creative Arts Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Animated Program.[78]

From 2015 to 2016, Lynskey played Michelle Pierson on the HBO series Togetherness, which focused on the lives of two couples living under the same roof. The show—which was created by the Duplass brothers—ran for two seasons, and was praised for its intimate storytelling and the performances of its cast.[79][80] Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "[Lynskey] is all deep waters and live wires; soft and steely, trying on new personas for size, her Michelle becomes the series' gravitational center. You can feel her feeling".[81] The performance earned Lynskey a nomination for the 2015 Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.[82] Despite missing out on a Primetime Emmy Award nomination in 2016, she was singled out as a worthy candidate in the run-up to that year's ceremony.[83][84][85] In March 2016, it was announced that HBO had decided not to renew Togetherness for a third season.[86] Lynskey later compared this to having her "heart broken by someone I'm still in love with".[87]

For her role in The Intervention (2016), Lynskey received the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Individual Performance at the Sundance Film Festival.[88] In his review for IndieWire, Russ Fischer pointed out Lynskey's "tremendously good comic timing",[89] while Ethan Anderton of /Film noted, "Lynskey is the standout, delivering a performance that is genuine, funny and touching all at the same time".[90] The film was the directorial debut of actress Clea DuVall, who wrote the character of Annie, an uptight alcoholic, specifically for Lynskey.[91] She attended therapy before the film went into production to prepare herself for working with DuVall, her close friend of several years: "I didn't want anything to happen to our friendship and a big challenge was being able to stick up for myself and my perspective in regard to the script and this character".[91] Also that year, she starred opposite Robert Webb in the BBC Two comedy pilot Our Ex-Wife[92] and played leading roles in the independent features Rainbow Time, Little Boxes, and The Great & The Small. Joe Leydon of Variety described her performance in the latter as "quietly devastating".[93]

2017–present: Continued success[edit]

Lynskey accepting her Special Jury Award for The Intervention (2016) at the Sundance Film Festival

Lynskey's performance in the crime thriller I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017) was roundly praised by critics.[94][95][96] The film's director (Macon Blair) wrote the character of Ruth, a downtrodden vigilante who teams up with her neighbor (played by Elijah Wood) to track down a burglar, specifically with Lynskey in mind.[97] The role proved to be physically challenging for her, as it involved a number of stunts and the use of prosthetics.[97][98] Peter Debruge of Variety felt that Lynskey delivered her "best work yet",[99] while Time Out described her as "seething and magnetic".[100] The film was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance,[101] while Lynskey received a nomination for the Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Actress.[102] That same year, she starred as the parent of a troubled teenager in the controversial drama And Then I Go;[103] as a defense lawyer in the Australian miniseries Sunshine, for which she received a Golden Nymph Award nomination;[104] as the mother of a girl with supernatural powers in The Changeover; and in the horror film XX, in which her character frantically tries to hide her husband's body after finding him dead. In her review of the latter, Stephanie Zacharek of Time wrote, "The picture has a wry, comic charge, and Lynskey, terrific as always, brings a grace note of pathos to the wicked proceedings".[105]

Lynskey had a starring role in the independent drama Sadie in 2018, playing a woman struggling to raise her daughter while her husband is on a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Variety described the film as "quietly absorbing", adding that Lynskey's work was "strong" and "compelling";[106] while Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "It's no surprise that Lynskey, who has quietly [been] establishing herself as one of indie cinema's finest actors, is once again superb in her emotionally complex turn".[107] Next, she appeared as Molly Strand on the first season of Castle Rock,[108] a psychological horror series based on characters and settings from the novels of Stephen King. The series premiered on Hulu in July 2018 and garnered positive reviews, particularly for the cast; Paste referred to Lynskey as "delicately complex",[109] while Alan Sepinwall of Rolling Stone felt the show was "the latest example of how much humanity and grounding [Lynskey] can bring to the most surreal and macabre of stories ... a tradition that goes back to when she was a teenager in Heavenly Creatures".[110] The series was later renewed for a second season;[111] however, due to the anthological nature of the narrative, it featured a different set of actors.[112]

Between April and May 2020, Lynskey co-starred with Cate Blanchett in the nine-part miniseries Mrs. America,[113] a political drama centred on the career of conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly. The series ran on FX on Hulu and was widely acclaimed by critics, with James Poniewozik of The New York Times calling it "breathtaking ... a meticulously created and observed mural that finds the germ of contemporary America in the striving of righteously mad women".[114] Lynskey's portrayal of the real-life Rosemary Thomson, a staunch supporter of Schlafly's, was described as "delightful"[115] and a "standout" among the cast.[116] She later referred to working with Blanchett as "one of the great experiences of my life".[117]

Upcoming projects[edit]

Lynskey will play the principal role of Hannah—described as a "slacker-stoner"[118]—in Lady of the Manor, the directorial debut of actor Justin Long. The film co-stars Long, Judy Greer and Ryan Phillippe. Principal photography began in January 2020.[119] She will also star as Shauna Sheridan, a plane crash survivor, on the upcoming Showtime drama series Yellowjackets.[120] The ensemble cast includes Christina Ricci and Juliette Lewis.[121] No release dates have been announced for either project as yet.

Acting style[edit]

Lynskey describes herself as a character actress.[63] "Even when I'm reading a script where I'm supposed to be looking at the lead role, I'll find myself gravitating toward some small weirdo in a few scenes instead".[122]

Regarding her acting technique, Lynskey has said, "I don't have any training ... so the only thing I have to go on is my own instinct. So if a director gives me a note that doesn't feel like it's in line with my instinct, it's very hard for me to do something that sort of feels like a lie. So, I'll argue it, and I can get kind of feisty because I feel it in my body, I know what is right".[123]

Asked by a journalist in 2012 about how she felt being cast—up to that point in her career—as a supporting player rather than a lead, Lynskey said it was something she had thought about a lot, and that the "meaty" parts are mostly written for men, or actresses like Meryl Streep.[63] "For a while, I was only being sent fat-girl parts", she said. "Seriously? Sometimes I feel like I'm making some kind of radical statement because I'm a size 6".[63] She has subsequently taken on leading roles in numerous independent films and has been labelled an "indie queen".[124][125][126][127]

Speaking in 2017 about taking risks in her film work, she said, "I want to tell stories about women who are interesting and complicated and not like people you've seen before ... There aren't that many opportunities [to do that] except in the independent film world. I've made films that have cost $50,000 for the entire film. If you're willing to work like that, you get chances to do really creative, interesting stuff".[2]

Lynskey is often complimented on her ability to perform an American accent.[128][129][130][131] She attributes this to staying with Joss Whedon when she first moved to Los Angeles. "When I came here, I stayed in his guest bedroom ... I watched movie after movie and learned American accents".[132]

Other work[edit]

In 2012, Lynskey voiced an animated version of herself in an airline safety video for Air New Zealand.[133]

In February 2013, she participated in a Live Read performance of the 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross. The read-through was directed by Jason Reitman, who assembled a cast of women to read the all-male script; Lynskey portrayed the role of George Aaronow (originally played by Alan Arkin).[134][135]

Lynskey appeared on several occasions as part of The Thrilling Adventure Hour, a staged production and podcast in the style of old-time radio that was held monthly in Los Angeles. The show ran from March 2005 to April 2015.[136]

In 2015, she featured in the music video for the song "Waiting on Love" by Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers.[137]

In 2016, it was reported that she was attached to star in a television series written by Pamela Ribon.[138][139] Lynskey described it as a "dream" part,[138] however the project has yet to materialize.

In June 2018, Lynskey was invited to become a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[140]

Personal life[edit]

In 2001, Lynskey met American actor Jimmi Simpson during the filming of Rose Red, in which they both appeared.[141] They became engaged in 2005 and married on 14 April 2007, in a chapel on Lake Hayes, near Queenstown, New Zealand.[142] Lynskey filed for divorce from Simpson on 25 September 2012, citing irreconcilable differences.[143] The divorce was finalized on 23 May 2014.[144] In February 2017, she became engaged to actor Jason Ritter after four years of dating.[145] Lynskey had her first child, a daughter, in December 2018.[146][147]

Lynskey lives in Los Angeles.[148] She is best friends with Clea DuVall, whom she met when they appeared together in But I'm a Cheerleader.[138] Lynskey became a vegetarian at age 10 after learning about sheep farming.[149] As of 2018, she identifies as a pescetarian.[149] She suffers from misophonia.[16][150]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role(s) Director(s) Notes
1994 Heavenly Creatures Pauline Parker Peter Jackson
1996 The Frighteners Deputy Peter Jackson
1998 Ever After Jacqueline Andy Tennant
1999 Foreign Correspondents Melody Mark Tapio Kines
Detroit Rock City Beth Adam Rifkin
But I'm a Cheerleader Hilary Jamie Babbit
The Cherry Orchard Dunyasha Michael Cacoyannis
Measureless to Man Adam Larkin Short film
2000 Coyote Ugly Gloria David McNally
2001 Snakeskin Alice Gillian Ashurst
2002 Shooters Marie Colin Teague
Glenn Durfort
Abandon Mousy Julie Stephen Gaghan Credited as Melanie Jayne Lynskey
Sweet Home Alabama Lurlynn Andy Tennant
2003 Claustrophobia Lauren Mark Tapio Kines
Shattered Glass Amy Brand Billy Ray
2004 The Nearly Unadventurous Life of Zoe Cadwaulder Zoe Cadwaulder Buboo Kakati Short film
2005 Say Uncle Susan Peter Paige
2006 Flags of Our Fathers Pauline Harnois Clint Eastwood
2007 Park Sheryl Kurt Voelker
Itty Bitty Titty Committee Plastic Surgery Lady Jamie Babbit Uncredited
2008 Show of Hands Jess Anthony McCarten
A Quiet Little Marriage Monique Mo Perkins
2009 Away We Go Munch Sam Mendes
Up in the Air Julie Bingham Jason Reitman
The Informant! Ginger Whitacre Steven Soderbergh
Leaves of Grass Colleen Tim Blake Nelson
2010 Helena from the Wedding Alice Joseph Infantolino
2011 Win Win Cindy Tom McCarthy
Touchback Macy Don Handfield
2012 Hello I Must Be Going Amy Todd Louiso
Eye of the Hurricane Amelia Kyte Jesse Wolfe
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Karen Lorene Scafaria
The Perks of Being a Wallflower Aunt Helen Stephen Chbosky
Putzel Sally Jason Chaet
2013 The Big Ask Hannah Thomas Beatty
Rebecca Fishman
2014 Happy Christmas Kelly Joe Swanberg
They Came Together Brenda David Wain
Chu and Blossom Miss Shoemaker Charles Chu
Gavin Kelly
We'll Never Have Paris Devon Simon Helberg
Jocelyn Towne
Goodbye to All That Annie Wall Angus MacLachlan
2015 Digging for Fire Squiggy Joe Swanberg
2016 The Intervention Annie Clea DuVall
Rainbow Time Lindsay Linas Phillips
The Great & The Small Margaret Dusty Bias
Little Boxes Gina McNulty-Burns Rob Meyer
Folk Hero & Funny Guy Becky Jeff Grace
2017 I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore Ruth Macon Blair
XX Mary Jovanka Vuckovic
Annie Clark
Roxanne Benjamin
Karyn Kusama
Segment: "The Birthday Party"
1 Mile to You Coach Rowan Leif Tilden
And Then I Go Janice Vincent Grashaw
The Changeover Kate Chant Stuart McKenzie
Miranda Harcourt
2018 Sadie Rae Megan Griffiths
TBA Lady of the Manor Hannah Justin Long
Christian Long
Post-production

Television[edit]

Year Title Role(s) Notes
2002 Rose Red Rachel Wheaton 3 episodes
2003 The Shield Marcy 2 episodes
2003–2015 Two and a Half Men Rose 63 episodes
2007 Drive Wendy Patrakas 6 episodes
2008 Comanche Moon Pearl Coleman 3 episodes
2008 Psych Emily Bloom Episode: "Black and Tan: A Crime of Fashion"
2008 The L Word Clea Mason 2 episodes
2009 It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Kate Episode: "The Gang Exploits the Mortgage Crisis"
2010 Memphis Beat Annaliese Jones Episode: "Polk Salad Annie"
2010–2012 The Life & Times of Tim Becky (voice) 6 episodes
2012 House Natalie Tavares Episode: "Better Half"
2014 Over the Garden Wall Beatrice (voice) 8 episodes
2014–2015 Jake and the Never Land Pirates Pearl (voice) 2 episodes
2015–2016 Togetherness Michelle Pierson 16 episodes
2015 Key & Peele Fiance Episode: "The Job Interview"
2016–2018 Future-Worm! Megan / Madeline Madison (voices) 13 episodes
2016 Animals. Linda (voice) Episode: "Squirrels"
2016 Our Ex-Wife Sara Pilot
2017 American Dad! Sharon (voice) Episode: "A Whole Slotta Love"
2017 Girlboss Gail 3 episodes
2017 Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later Laura 2 episodes
2017 Sunshine Zara Skelton 4 episodes
2018 Summer Camp Island Sun (voice) 3 episodes
2018 Castle Rock Molly Strand 10 episodes
2019 Easy Beth Episode: "Blank Pages"
2020 Mrs. America Rosemary Thomson 9 episodes

Awards and nominations[edit]

Film[edit]

Awards Circuit Community Awards
Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2009 Up in the Air Best Cast Ensemble (shared with the cast) Runner-up [151]
2012 The Perks of Being a Wallflower Best Cast Ensemble (shared with the cast) Nominated [152]
Central Ohio Film Critics Association
Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2010 Up in the Air Best Ensemble (shared with the cast) Nominated [153]
Chicago Alt.Film Fest
Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
1999 Foreign Correspondents Best Actress Nominated [153]
CinEuphoria Awards
Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2011 Away We Go Best Supporting Actress - International Competition Won [153]
Denver Film Critics Society
Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2010 Up in the Air Best Acting Ensemble (shared with the cast) Nominated [154]
Fargo Film Festival
Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2014 Putzel Best Actress Nominated [153]
Gold Derby Awards
Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2010 Up in the Air Ensemble Cast (shared with the cast) Nominated [155]
Gotham Independent Film Awards
Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2012 Hello I Must Be Going Breakthrough Actor Nominated [66]
2017 I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore Best Actress Nominated [102]
Hollywood Film Awards
Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2009 Melanie Lynskey Spotlight Award Won [52]
New Zealand Film and Television Awards
Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
1995 Heavenly Creatures Best Actress Won [1]
2001 Snakeskin Best Actress Nominated [26]
2009 Show of Hands Best Lead Actress in a Feature Film Nominated [42]
RiverRun International Film Festival
Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2014 Melanie Lynskey Emerging Master Won [71]
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards
Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2012 The Perks of Being a Wallflower Best Performance by an Ensemble (shared with the cast) Won [153]
Sundance Film Festival
Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2016 The Intervention U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Individual Performance Won [88]
Visa Entertainment Screen Awards
Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2010 The Informant! Best Actress Nominated [156]
Melanie Lynskey Best New Zealand Export Nominated [156]
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards
Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2009 Up in the Air Best Ensemble (shared with the cast) Nominated [153]

Television[edit]

Behind the Voice Actors Awards
Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2014 Over the Garden Wall Best Vocal Ensemble in a New Television Series (People's Choice) (shared with the cast) Won [157]
Over the Garden Wall Best Female Lead Vocal Performance in a Television Series - Comedy/Musical Nominated [157]
Critics' Choice Television Awards
Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2015 Togetherness Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Nominated [82]
Monte-Carlo Television Festival
Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2018 Sunshine Golden Nymph Award for Outstanding Actress (Long Fiction Program) Nominated [104]

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External links[edit]