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Melanie Lynskey has held a number of remarkable roles over the years, but the actress recently admitted that her time in Hollywood has not always been pleasant.
Lynskey, who is now 44, became an international artistic sensation with her debut in the 1994 thriller co-starring Kate Winslet, Heavenly Creatures. She quickly went on to hold acts in a variety of TV series and movies throughout the early 2000s, and has maintained her place on the big screen since—most recently, opposite Jessica Biel in Candy and as Shauna on Showtime's Yellowjackets.
But the New Zealand-born star told The Hollywood Reporter that her experience on set hasn't always been a positive one. Lynskey described instances of body shaming, subtle cruelty, and the industry's unhealthy obsessions with actresses' bodies.
"I remember I got cast in a movie when I was like 21, and the description of the character before I auditioned was 'blah, blah, blah, the beautiful girl who sits next to him in school,'" she recalled. "Then, at the table read, it had been changed to 'blah, blah, blah, cute and quirky.' I was like, 'You don’t need to change it. Just keep it …' They’re like, 'We better change this description or people will be like, wrong actress.' So, sometimes it feels … I don’t know. I never liked that word, 'quirky.'"
Quirky, which is defined by Merriam-Webster as "unusual in especially an interesting or appealing way," became casting directors' way of sidelining the actress for not meeting their sexist beauty standards.
After reflecting, Lynskey believed the comments were damaging to her expectations as an up-and-coming Hollywood talent.
"I started calling myself a 'character actor' in interviews when I was really young because I think it was reclaiming the term or something. I think I just was like, 'That’s what I am.' My agents had all that kind of intensity around it, too."
"People were talking about her body, talking about her appearance, focusing on what she was eating. All the girls had this regimen they had to go on. It was ridiculous. I was already starving myself and as thin as I could possibly be for this body, and I was still a [size] four."
A few other instances she recalled as "really intense feedback," stood out to the Critics Choice Award winner.
“Nobody told me there would be girls like you,” she remembered an unnamed costume designer telling her in a fitting room. (Lynskey later clarified in a statement made on Twitter that the costume designer credited in Coyote Ugly was not the designer who made this rude comment).
She also recalled makeup artists belittling her with snide remarks over the years.
"People doing my makeup and being like, 'I’m just going to help you out by giving you a bit more of a jawline and stuff.' Just the feedback was constantly like, 'You’re not beautiful. You’re not beautiful.'"
Lynskey admitted that the industry's issues with her physical appearance took a toll on her at the time.
"In your early 20s, so much of it is about beauty, and how people respond to you, and do people want to f*** you? Do people think you’re their best friend? Even the best friend thing, I started to be like, 'I don’t want to do that too many times.'"
Lynskey, quick to shut down any rumors about who should be held accountable for the disrespectful behavior, later shared a statement on Twitter.
In part, she said: "if I ever talk about a bad experience I’ve had I’m pretty careful about people not being able to identify who did those things as I am not in the business of publicly shaming people. I’ll talk about my experience without including that."
You can read Melanie Lynskey's full statement addressing the interview below: