Melanie Lynskey is a prolific actress, who is known for her television and movie work, including a stint as ‘Rose’ on the hit CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men.
Lynskey was born in New Plymouth, New Zealand on May 16, 1977. Her mother, Kay Lynskey, is a real estate agent and her father, Tim Lynskey, is an orthopedic surgeon. She is the oldest of five children.
She attended New Plymouth Girls’ High School and became involved in their drama department. For college, Lynskey attended Victoria University in Wellington.
At sixteen years old, Lynskey received her first acting credit when she played Pauline Parker opposite Kate Winslet in Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures in 1994. Five hundred girls had been considered for the part of Pauline before Lynskey landed the role after a casting director visited her high school.
Lynskey’s performance was praised by critics. Richard Corliss stated in his review for Time Magazine, “The film’s serendipitous stroke was to find Winslet and, especially, Lynskey, a first-time actress. They are perfect, fearless in embodying teenage hysteria.”
In 1998, Lynskey was cast as Cinderella’s stepsister in Ever After: A Cinderella Story, a reimagining of the classic tale. The film starred Drew Barrymore as Cinderella and Angelica Houston as her wicked stepmother.
The film was met with commercial success upon its release.
Detroit Rock City
Lynskey was cast as Beth Bumstein in the teen comedy film Detroit Rock City in 1999. The film is about four teenage boys who go to great lengths to see their idols, Kiss, play a concert in Detroit.
In 2000, Lynskey played Gloria in the film Coyote Ugly. Her character was the best friend of Violet Sanford, played by Piper Perabo, who takes a job at the infamous NYC bar Coyote Ugly.
In 2022, Lynskey recounted being pressured by the costume and makeup department on the set of Coyote Ugly to lose weight. She told the Hollywood Reporter, “All the girls had this regimen they had to go on. It was ridiculous…” she continued “I was already starving myself and as thin as I could possibly be for this body, and I was still a [size] four."
Sweet Home Alabama
In 2002, she was cast as Lurlynn, a childhood friend of Melanie, played by Reese Witherspoon, in the romantic comedy film Sweet Home Alabama. This would be her second time working with director Andy Tennant, who also directed Ever After: A Cinderella Story.
Even though the film had a record-breaking opening weekend in North America, the film was met with mixed reviews from critics and audiences.
Two and a Half Men
In 2003, Lynskey landed a role on the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men. For Seasons 1 through 3, her character, Rose, was recurring, but later her character became part of the regular cast. She appeared in 63 episodes in total.
She was one of the many recurring guest on the show along with April Bowlby, Jennifer Taylor, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Brooke D’Orsay, Kelly Stables, Emmanuelle Vaugier, and Jodi Lyn O’Keefe.
Rose and Charlie, played by Charlie Sheen, had a one-night stand and then she becomes obsessed with him and later moves into his neighborhood.
Her character is intelligent but manipulative. She is obsessive and both loves and hates Charlie. Some of the characters describe her as “crazy.”
Why did she leave Two and a Half Men?
In 2005, Lynskey stepped away from Two and a Half Men. She cited the amount she was being paid and the show interfering with her doing other projects as the reasons for her departure.
In interviews, she stated, “It was nice to be getting a paycheck. It wasn’t huge; it was literally the least they could possibly pay me, according to SAG… I did one season, and I thought, ‘Oh, this is not for me.’ It felt very hard knowing that most of my year was gonna be this.”
She worked it out with creator Chuck Lorre where she would have more flexibility to work on other projects, despite Lorre’s attempts to get her to stay on as a regular on the show.
“They really tried to talk me out of it. Finally, we came to an agreement where I could come and go. A couple of people were like, ‘You could be a millionaire.’ I get it. We’re going into the third season, and that’s the time you can ask for a raise. But it didn’t matter."
Up in the Air
In the film Up in the Air, Lynskey played Julie Bingham, the younger sister of George Clooney’s character, Ryan. The film also starred Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman, and Vera Farmiga, but centered around Ryan, who travels around the country firing people when a new love interest threatens his career and lifestyle.
The film received several nominations and awards from the Academy and Golden Globes.
In 2016, Clea DuVall wrote and directed the film The Intervention, in which Lynskey starred as Annie. The film is about four couples who take a trip together when one of the couples realizes that the entire trip was planned as an intervention for their marriage.
Annie is an alcoholic who was the mastermind of the intervention.
Lynskey starred as Michelle Pierson in the HBO comedy-drama Togetherness. The series focused on marriage and friendship and starred Amanda Peet and Mark Duplass.
The show premiered in 2015 but was canceled in 2016 after two seasons.
In 2020, Lynskey played Rosemary Thomson, a conservative activist, in the FX historical miniseries Mrs. America.
The series tells the story of the unsuccessful political movement to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. It starred Cate Blanchett, Uzo Aduba, Elizabeth Banks, and Sarah Paulson.
The miniseries garnered critical acclaim and received ten nominations at the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards.
Executive produced by Stephen King and J.J. Abrams, Castle Rock was a television series on Hulu that compiled characters, settings, and themes from Stephen King’s stories.
Lynskey was cast in a main role as Molly Strand, a woman who possesses telepathic and empathetic abilities.
Despite generally positive reviews during its two season run, Hulu canceled the series in 2020.
Don’t Look Up
In 2021, Lynskey starred alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, and Jonah Hill in the Netflix film Don’t Look Up. Lynskey played June Mindy, the wife of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Dr. Mindy.
The political satire was the most watched English language film on Netflix during the final week of December in 2021.
What is Melanie Lynskey doing now?
Melanie is still very active as an actress and has not let off the gas pedal on her career.
In 2021, Lynskey starred in the Showtime thriller drama Yellowjackets. The show is about a group of teenagers involved in a plane crash that leaves them stranded in the woods for over a year. Lynskey plays the adult Shauna Shipman while Sophie Nelisse plays the teenage version of the same character.
While the series was a hit amongst viewers and critics, Lynskey found that fans and even the Yellowjacket production team were critical of her weight. In RollingStone, she said, “They were asking me, ‘What do you plan to do? I’m sure the producers will get you a trainer. They’d love to help you with this.”
After her character has a relationship with Adam, played by Adam Peter Gadiot, fans questioned how Adam could honestly be attracted to Shauna. In Glamour, when discussing her disappointment with comments made about her online from fans of the show, Lynskey said, “Skinny does not always equal healthy.”
Lynskey said her co-stars, Christina Ricci, Juliette Lewis, and Tawny Cypress, supported her and Lewis even wrote a letter to the Yellowjackets producers about how Lynskey was being treated by production.
In 2022, Lynskey played Betty Gore in the limited series Candy on Hulu. The series revolves around Candy Montgomery, who is accused of murdering Betty Gore after she has an affair with Candy’s husband in 1980.
The series also starred Jessica Biel and Pablo Schreiber.
The Last of Us
Lynskey is cast to make a guest appearance as Kathleen in the much-anticipated HBO series The Last of Us. The Last of Us is based on the 2013 video game of the same name. The show is set to premiere sometime in 2023.
Recovery from an eating disorder
In 2022, Lynskey spoke openly about how her ex-boyfriend, Andrew Howard, helped her to overcome her eating disorder.
In People, Lynskey recounted, "I met a boyfriend, Andrew Howard, who helped me so much with my eating disorder on the set of The Cherry Orchard.
The closest thing I’ve had to an intervention was when I was living with him, and he got really intense about my eating issues. He tried to stop me from monitoring my own eating and talked to me about how thin I was. Of course, in my mind, I thought he was nuts."
When discussing the severity of her eating disorder, she described restricting herself to just eight-hundred calories a day and she would force herself to throw up if she exceeded that amount.
After realizing how unhappy she was and her health was in jeopardy, she decided to accept how she looks– “I was like, ‘I just need to look the way I’m supposed to look’ and have faith that people are going to want to put someone in a film or on a show who looks like this…”
Lynskey married American actor Jimmi Simpson in 2007 after they met while filming Rose Red. Simpson has starred in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, House of Cards, and Westworld. Lynskey filed for divorce in 2012 and the divorce was finalized in 2014.
In 2017, Lynskey got engaged to actor Jason Ritter after dating for four years. Ritter has acted in The Intervention, Girls, and Candy. He is also the son of the late actor John Ritter.
Lynskey and Ritter were married in 2020. While Lynskey and Ritter were engaged, they welcomed a daughter in 2019.