The Cast of 'Yellowjackets': Everything to Know

From their previous roles to their off-screen dating lives, here's what to know about the cast of Showtime's Yellowjackets

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ;
Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ;

Everyone's buzzing about Yellowjackets.

The Showtime thriller follows a New Jersey high school girls' soccer team involved in a deadly plane crash on their way to a tournament — and it's coming back for its highly anticipated season 2 on March 24. In addition to series regulars Melanie Lynskey, Tawny Cypress, Juliette Lewis and Christina Ricci, this season will debut a whole bunch of new players to mess with the team's heads.

Chronicling four women who are forever bonded by the 19 months they spent stranded in the brutal Canadian wilderness, Yellowjackets flashes back and forth in time between 1996 and 2021. The series focuses on the '90s characters who are stranded after crash, while the adult characters in 2021 are plagued by an anonymous blackmailer threatening to reveal what they had to do to survive. The series nabbed seven Emmy nominations after it first premiered in November 2021.

According to Lynskey, the cast felt confident about the project, but they were still shocked by the outpouring of support — and rampant fan theories.

"I was honestly surprised at what a phenomenon Yellowjackets became," she admitted to PEOPLE in 2022. "I never had the expectations. I've been doing this for 30 years. I felt like it was good, I felt really good about it. And I was like, 'I hope people like it,' but the expansiveness of the response really was amazing to me."

From their previous roles to their off-screen dating lives, here's everything to know about the cast of Yellowjackets.

Melanie Lynskey as Shauna

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Kevin Mazur/Getty
Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Kevin Mazur/Getty

Hollywood veteran Melanie Lynskey stars as the series' main character Shauna, a woman trying to move past the horrific crash and subsequent stint in the wilderness that her high school soccer team survived 25 years prior. Now married to the prom king (and teammate Jackie's high school boyfriend), the complex housewife is looking to reclaim her agency while keeping the team's morbid secrets safe.

As the series' lead, Lynskey revealed that she was a bit particular about how the series came together.

"The first season, I was a bit nitpicky about continuity and different things like that," she told PEOPLE in 2022. "And, 'Well, how about this thing happened before, so shouldn't this thing happen now?' And people were a little bit annoyed with me."

Given the hype around the series, Lynskey, who received an Emmy nomination for outstanding lead actress in a drama series for her portrayal of Shauna, added that she was glad she was a stickler for the details. "I feel justified because the fans are paying that much attention," she added. "Now I'm like, 'Listen, it's going to be all over Reddit if we don't do this.' "

Unfortunately, it wasn't a wholly positive experience on set. In 2022, Lynskey told Rolling Stone that she had been body-shamed by someone on the series' production team, who offered to get her a trainer before filming. Lynskey's costars reportedly banded together to support her after the incident; Lewis even wrote a letter to producers of the show about the incident on Lynskey's behalf.

"It was really important to me for [Shauna] to not ever comment on my body, to not have me putting a dress on and being like, 'I wish I looked a bit better,' " Lynskey told the outlet. "I did find it important that this character is just comfortable and sexual and not thinking or talking about it, because I want women to be able to watch it and be like, 'Wow, she looks like me and nobody's saying she's the fat one.' That representation is important."

The New Zealander's acting debut came when she was 16 years old starring opposite Kate Winslet in 1994's Heavenly Creatures. She later appeared in a number of high-profile productions, including Ever After, But I'm a Cheerleader, Coyote Ugly, Sweet Home Alabama, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and, most recently, Don't Look Up. On the television side, the actress starred as Rose in Two and a Half Men from 2003 to 2015 and as a vengeful revolutionary leader on The Last of Us in 2023.

Lynskey was married to fellow actor Jimmi Simpson, whom she met on the set of Rose Red, from 2007 to 2012. In 2013, Lynskey met Jason Ritter while they were costarring in The Big Ask and began dating shortly after. The couple welcomed a daughter in 2018 and tied the knot in 2020 in a private ceremony on their front porch.

Sophie Nélisse as Teen Shauna

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME
Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

Teenage Shauna, billed only as "one of the 'lucky' few survivors of the crash," is portrayed by Canadian actress Sophie Nélisse. Previously overlooked and extraordinarily complex, Shauna quickly adapts to life in the wilderness and becomes close to Taissa; however, her secrets — including an affair with Jackie's boyfriend Jeff — cause tension in the group.

"Shauna has a little bit of every character," Nélisse told Cosmopolitan in 2022. "I think she has the leadership and the strength of Taissa yet the kindness and sweetness of Laura Lee but also the craziness of Misty. She can lie very well and I think she can be quite unreasonable at times."

Nélisse went on to say that Shauna "definitely has this dark side that she herself is scared to admit is there" — something that'll almost certainly come out in season 2.

Nélisse previously trained as a gymnast, aiming for the 2016 Olympic Games, but gave up the sport when she was cast in 2013's The Book Thief. She is also known for playing Caroline in The Kid Detective and Alice in Monsieur Lazhar, for which she won a Genie Award in 2012.

Tawny Cypress as Taissa

Colin Bentley/SHOWTIME ; Michael Kovac/The Hollywood Reporter/Getty
Colin Bentley/SHOWTIME ; Michael Kovac/The Hollywood Reporter/Getty

Having left behind her past as the Yellowjackets' star player, Taissa, played by Tawny Cypress, is now running for state senate. But the group's shared history — and her continued experiences with her "other half" — threatens to derail her political career before it even starts, which simply won't do.

"Taissa's driving force is perfectionism," Cypress told Awards Daily in 2022. "She needs to be a perfect picture. She's gotten so far with that — beautiful house, beautiful family, successful lawyer. Where else is there to go?"

Previously, Cypress starred in the television hit Heroes as art dealer Simone Deveaux. She's also appeared on House of Cards, Unforgettable and Inez & Doug & Kira.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Cypress was married to Bill Charles from 2000 to 2004. The former couple share one son, Dexter. Cypress has been married to Tom Dillon since 2011.

In the 2022 docuseries Queer for Fear, Cypress revealed she is attracted to women, even sharing that her Yellowjackets castmate Lynskey's 1994 film Heavenly Creatures was involved with her coming out story.

"When I was 18, I moved in with my best friend in New York, and I was in love with her. I was truly in love with her," Cypress shared, according to "And we went to see Heavenly Creatures, and it changed everything. I took the step. I was like, 'I want to be with you, let's just live the way we want to live.' It was life-affirming."

Jasmin Savoy Brown as Teen Taissa

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty
Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

The Yellowjackets' star player, Taissa, played by Jasmin Savoy Brown, can be über-competitive. But everything changes when she starts having disturbing supernatural episodes — despite her reservations about Lottie's supposed abilities.

Naturally, Cypress and Brown bonded over playing Taissa on set, although they made sure not to copy each other's performances. "We very much have the same understanding of the character," Brown explained to the Hollywood Reporter in 2022. "We talked more about the small things. For example, does Taissa pronounce either as 'ee-ther' or does she say 'eye-ther'? Things of that nature."

Brown went on to reveal that, even in real life, she and Cypress are similar — they stayed in the same building in Vancouver, Canada, where Yellowjackets was filmed, and they both brought their tortoiseshell cats there.

"Even as human beings, we're very much the same," she noted. "So I think that speaks to those similarities, because I didn't plan that."

Brown is also known for her roles in the fifth Scream film, HBO's The Leftovers and ABC's For the People. She created, produced and hosted the podcast The Homo Schedule with costar Liv Hewson; the podcast was sold to Netflix before she and Hewson found out their Yellowjackets characters would have a romantic story line.

She's also a singer, having released two songs — "Orange Wine" and "goddamnit" — on YouTube, the latter of which starred Hewson in the music video.

Juliette Lewis as Natalie

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Araya Doheny/Getty
Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Araya Doheny/Getty

Nineties "it" girl Juliette Lewis takes on the role of Natalie, a grown-up punk trying to get sober and still haunted by what went down after the crash. After falling for her coach's son Travis in the wilderness, present-day Natalie attempts to unravel the mystery of what happened to him throughout season 1.

And though she may appear hardheaded, Natalie gets vulnerable when unpacking her trauma with Shauna, Taissa and Misty.

"Natalie is written as that, I guess, toxic strength," Lewis told the New York Times in 2021. "But she completely devolves to where she goes into weakness and propitiation around the girls, and it's strange where she ends up. I didn't see it coming."

Lewis first made her mark in Hollywood as a teenager, starring in films like National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Natural Born Killers and Cape Fear (which earned her Academy Award and Golden Globe nods). Lewis has since starred in films like August: Osage County and Ma before shifting more toward television, appearing in The Act, Queer as Folk and Welcome to Chippendales.

She's also a musical artist, having released two albums as a member of Juliette and the Licks and one as a solo artist.

In 2016, Lewis was in a relationship with Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk, but they've since split. She previously dated Brad Pitt, whom she met on the set of Too Young to Die?, from 1989 to 1993 and Leonardo DiCaprio, whom she met on the set of What's Eating Gilbert Grape, in 1993. She was married to professional skateboarder Steve Berra from 1999 to 2003.

Sophie Thatcher as Teen Natalie

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty
Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Sophie Thatcher takes on playing teenage Natalie, whose troublemaking tendencies and brash personality make her one of the most "unlikely" teammates, according to Showtime — despite her natural soccer talent. In the wilderness, Natalie begins to grow closer and closer to Travis, which has major consequences for the entire group.

And although she's Lewis' younger counterpart, Thatcher's Natalie is distinct from Lewis' — which was done intentionally.

"There's a lot more of a lightness in younger Natalie, and it grows," Thatcher told Teen Vogue in 2022. "She had so much love in her heart, and to see her turn into this almost suicidal wreck, to see how dark she got, I think that makes it more heartbreaking."

Thatcher, who's originally from Chicago, Illinois, is also known for her appearance as a cyborg leader in Disney+'s The Book of Boba Fett. She got her start in theater, starring in productions of The Diary of Anne Frank, A Christmas Carol: The Musical, Oliver! and The Secret Garden.

Christina Ricci as Misty

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Jean-Baptiste LACROIX / AFP
Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Jean-Baptiste LACROIX / AFP

Christina Ricci stars as Misty, the Yellowjackets' former equipment manager who has a passion for online (and in-person) sleuthing. After feeling left out for most of her high school career, the care facility nurse can ruthlessly manipulate others, to the benefit (and sometimes misfortune) of the remaining survivors.

"I mean, she's not somebody that I would choose to be friends with," Ricci, who for this role was nominated for the Emmy for outstanding supporting actress in a drama series, told CNN in 2022. "I really enjoy playing characters that don't follow the sort of normal social constraints that we do. And the freedom of playing someone who's not bound by any sort of morality but her own."

Ricci has been acting since she was a child, having had her breakout performance as Wednesday Addams in 1991's The Addams Family. Subsequently, she starred in the film's sequel, Addams Family Values, as well as several '90s hits like Casper and Now and Then. She has gone on to star in more than a dozen films, including The Opposite of Sex, Sleepy Hollow and Monster.

Most recently, Ricci returned to the Addams Family world in Netflix's Wednesday as house mother Marilyn Thornhill. On television, she also had a leading role in the short-lived ABC series Pan Am and both produced and starred in Lifetime's The Lizzie Borden Chronicles. The California native is also the national spokesperson for the nonprofit RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.

Outside of her career, Ricci is mother to two children: she shares her son Freddie with ex-husband James Heerdegen, and she welcomed daugher Cleopatra with husband Mark Hampton. Ricci and Hampton got married in October 2021.

Samantha Hanratty as Teen Misty

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; David Livingston/Getty
Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; David Livingston/Getty

Samantha Hanratty stars as teenage Misty, the Yellowjackets' equipment manager. While seemingly bubbly and eager to please, her upbeat nature hides a dark side — Misty will do anything to get what she wants. Hanratty has said that she has to tap into a very different side to play her.

"I'm a very emotional person; I'm an empath," she told The Hollywood Reporter in 2022. "I, as Samantha, would have been sobbing. I would have been having a mental breakdown. But Misty takes in things so differently. … I just want to hug her and tell her to go to therapy."

And while she and Ricci didn't coordinate on their approaches to Misty, Hanratty said she went down an internet rabbit hole after she found out she'd be playing a younger Ricci.

"I started looking up pictures of her and looking at pictures of myself," she told the outlet. "I [put] them side to side to be like, 'What is it that we have in common? And what is it that we don't?' "

Before Yellowjackets, Hanratty had stints on hits like Pushing Daisies and Shameless. Her breakout role was Chrissa in An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong. Born in Scottsdale, Arizona, Hanratty is currently engaged to production assistant Christian DeAnda. The two announced their engagement in November 2021 after he proposed during a seaside picnic.

Simone Kessell as Lottie

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Dominik Magdziak/Getty
Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Dominik Magdziak/Getty

Season 2 of the series is sure to introduce a number of new twists and turns — and will certainly address the season 1 cliffhanger that Lottie is actually alive. Simone Kessell will play the adult version of Lottie, who has been up to something suspicious over the past few decades.

"She's come into her life," Kessell said of her character to Vanity Fair in 2023. "She's found her voice, and she's used it in a way to help teach — she sort of brings therapy to people. … She has reinvented herself from the darkness into the light. She leads a group of broken toys. The past 25 years she's reinvented herself as a leader, as a guru, as a healer. And with that, she has created her own world."

And what is this group of "broken toys," exactly? "You could call it a cult," Kessell added.

Kessell recently appeared in on Disney+'s Obi-Wan Kenobi series alongside Ewan McGregor. She's also known for her roles on Our Flag Means Death and Terra Nova.The New Zealand native is married to Australian director Gregor Jordan. They have two children, Jack and Beau.

Courtney Eaton as Teen Lottie

Michael Courtney/SHOWTIME ; Gilbert Flores/Variety/Getty
Michael Courtney/SHOWTIME ; Gilbert Flores/Variety/Getty

Lottie, the team's resident rich girl, is played by Courtney Eaton. But Lottie isn't simply a stereotypical rich kid — after the crash, she runs out of her schizophrenia medication and experiences hallucinations, making predictions that start to impact the rest of the team.

"In episode six, you see her get shut down by her parents and medicated, so her whole life she's been taught that whatever is going on with these thoughts isn't normal and is unnatural," Eaton explained to Vulture. "With her predictions, it's the first time in her life that whatever is going on with her has been labeled a positive thing."

But this isn't the first time the Aussie actress has been in a doomsday scenario — Eaton is best known for her role in Mad Max: Fury Road as Cheedo the Fragile, the youngest of cult leader Immortan Joe's wives. She also starred in the 2013 fantasy action film Gods of Egypt and the 2019 thriller Line of Duty.

Eaton previously dated former Disney Channel star Ross Lynch, her costar in the direct-to-video movie Status Update, from 2015 to 2017. She is currently in a relationship with cinematographer Spencer Goodall.

Lauren Ambrose as Van

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Kristina Bumphrey/Variety/Getty
Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Kristina Bumphrey/Variety/Getty

Lauren Ambrose has been cast as the present-day Vanessa "Van" Palmer for season 2, confirming that the fan favorite did, in fact, make it out of the wilderness. In season 1, the plucky Yellowjackets goalie, played by Liv Hewson, begins a relationship with Taissa after the crash.

In 2023, Ambrose told Entertainment Tonight that she wanted to join the series after watching season 1. "I definitely had the experience of watching the show and being like, 'Well, gee, can I be on this show or what?' " she told the outlet. "Liv created a beautiful character that wasn't even necessarily meant to stick around. And because of Liv's very cool, beautiful performance, I get to be part of it now, too."

Ambrose recently completed her run on M. Night Shyamalan's Apple TV+ thriller series Servant. Originally from Connecticut, the actress is best known for her breakout role as Claire Fisher on HBO's Six Feet Under, which nabbed her two Emmy nominations. In 2018, she received her first Tony nomination for her portrayal of the iconic Eliza Doolittle in the Lincoln Center Theater revival of My Fair Lady.

Ambrose married writer and director Sam Handel in September 2001. The couple share a son, Orson, and a daughter.

Liv Hewson as Teen Van

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; David Livingston/Getty
Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; David Livingston/Getty

The teenage version of Yellowjackets goalie Vanessa "Van" Palmer is brought to life by none other than Australian actor Liv Hewson. According to Showtime, Van's positive attitude makes her the "unofficial mascot of the team" — despite experiencing a vicious accident after the crash.

"Van crops up a lot as a strong comedic voice in the ensemble, which I had a lot of fun with as a performer," Hewson told The Guardian. "I think people respond to that — not just about Van, but the show generally. Yellowjackets is this bleak tragedy and it's all going to end in tears, but there's sharp comedy in it, which I think people respond to. I respond to it. It's my favorite thing about it."

Van is superstitious and an early believer in Lottie's proselytizing, with many fans theorizing that she's involved in the ritual sacrifice that'll soon engulf the team. The character, who begins a relationship with Taissa in the wilderness, has quickly become a fan favorite online — something Hewson has been relishing.

"Being adored by gay people on Twitter is all I've ever wanted in my life," they joked to The Guardian. "So I've been enjoying myself."

Previously, Hewson starred as Abby Hammond on the Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet. They also had key roles in the film Before I Fall and the miniseries Marvel's Inhumans. Hewson, who is non-binary, is also known for their advocacy work: In 2020, they won the Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award for their efforts in uplifting LGBTQ voices in film and theater.

Ella Purnell as Teen Jackie

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Phil Faraone/GA/The Hollywood Reporter/Getty
Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Phil Faraone/GA/The Hollywood Reporter/Getty

Ella Purnell portrays teenage Jackie, the magnetic, popular and sometimes entitled captain of the Yellowjackets. After surviving in the wilderness, her friendship with Shauna disintegrates — with some pretty brutal consequences. But Purnell wanted to make sure Jackie wasn't a typical "Queen Bee."

"I definitely was over playing anything close to stereotypical, so I wanted to make sure that she was vulnerable," Purnell told Vanity Fair. "Maybe she says some things that come off a little insensitive, but that's only because she's insecure."

So far, Jackie has only been seen in the '90s. But if Purnell were to ever have an adult counterpart of her own, she already has someone specific in mind.

"Helena Bonham Carter, if you're out there!" she told Entertainment Tonight at the 2022 Critics Choice Awards. "We're both English, we should be friends!"

After beginning her career as a child actor on the West End, Purnell nabbed roles in films like Maleficent and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. The London native has also starred in series like Ordeal by Innocence, Sweetbitter and Star Trek: Prodigy.

Currently, she's dating musician Max Bennett Kelly, though in the past she's been spotted out with singer James Coates and with Sex Education star (and Miss Peregrine costar) Asa Butterfield.

Kevin Alves as Teen Travis

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty
Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Travis, played by Kevin Alves, is the guarded son of the Yellowjackets' head coach, who perished in the crash. He's determined to protect his little brother Javi and starts up a romance with Natalie as they try to survive in the wilderness.

Alves has said he's comfortable playing an unlikable character like Travis.

"The series' creators, Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, helped me understand that Travis is just a flawed kid like most of us are at that age," Alves told Toronto Life in 2022. "He's 17, stranded in the woods with all these girls around whom he doesn't feel comfortable, and he lost his dad right in front of his eyes. Then you have to take into account the time period — it's the mid-'90s. It's the height of toxic masculinity, and I think he represents that in many ways. He's not supposed to be very likable by 2022 standards."

Born and raised in Canada, Alves is also an internationally-ranked figure skater. Growing up, he juggled figure skating with acting, ultimately reaching two World Figure Skating Championships and being ranked in the top 30 in the world. Aside from Yellowjackets, Alves has had recurring roles on Netflix's Locke and Key as well as Freeform's Shadowhunters series.

Steven Krueger as Ben Scott

Michael Courtney/SHOWTIME ; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty
Michael Courtney/SHOWTIME ; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Steven Krueger portrays the Yellowjackets' assistant coach Ben Scott, who is burdened with being the only surviving adult and losing a leg from the crash. Ben is also saddled with being the object of teenage Misty's affections — while hiding that he's actually gay.

"As the teacher of high school students during that time, you certainly weren't allowed to be openly gay," Krueger explained to TV Insider. "It was a major life decision to keep it hidden and lie to fend her off or tell the truth. … In various episodes through different scenes, we really got to see a lot of those angles and see Ben Scott thinking through all the possibilities of what could possibly happen."

The actor, who grew up in Sarasota, Florida, may be familiar to fans of The CW's Vampire Diaries spin-off, The Originals, on which he played fan favorite Josh.

Warren Kole as Jeff Sadecki

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty
Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Shauna's husband (and Jackie's high school boyfriend) Jeff, played by Warren Kole, is returning for season 2. The former prom king's life didn't exactly turn out as he planned — at the end of season 1, he reveals he was the one attempting to bribe the group of survivors in order to save his furniture business.

Kole, who's best known for his starring role opposite Jennifer Lopez on NBC's Shades of Blue, apparently drew inspiration from his real life to play the New Jersey townie.

"I have friends who I went to school with that are very similar to Jeff Sadecki, in that they peaked in high school, and now they're just surviving, and resigned to sort of a certain mediocrity and a provincial existence," he told AssignmentX in 2021. "So, I had a lot to draw from there, just from my life. Maybe I was a part of that jock class a little bit when I was in high school, too."

Kole also had a recurring role on Paramount+'s Why Women Kill and a guest appearance on Prime Video's The Terminal List.

Elijah Wood as Walter

Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Santiago Felipe/Getty
Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME ; Santiago Felipe/Getty

Elijah Wood will also make his Yellowjackets debut in season 2 as recurring guest star Walter. According to Showtime, Walter is a "very dedicated Citizen Detective who will challenge Misty in ways she won't see coming."

In January 2023, the network released a sneak peek of Walter alongside Misty, writing, "Welcome to the Bureau of Citizen Detectives."

But this isn't the first time Ricci and Wood have shared the screen together — the two were both in Ang Lee's 1997 film The Ice Storm. In addition to his roles in hits like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Wilfred, Wood is best known as Frodo Baggins in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy.

In 2019, Wood and his fiancée, Danish film producer Mette-Marie Kongsved, welcomed their first child together, a boy.

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