The failed audition that changed Melanie Lynskey’s life

Actor wrote a letter to the director of the movie to thank him, even though she didn’t get the part

Ellie Harrison
Friday 28 April 2023 12:58 BST
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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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Melanie Lynskey has reflected on the first film role that made her feel seen – even though she ended up losing out on the part to another actor.

Speaking to The Independent in a new interview, out on Saturday 29 April, the Yellowjackets star discussed her audition for the role of sexually adventurous college student Giselle in the 2003 romance Mona Lisa Smile.

The actor had initially been up for the part of Connie Baker, a straight-laced young woman much like many of the other characters she had played up until that point. But director Mike Newell saw her in a different light, and suggested she read for Giselle instead.

“Nobody had ever taken the time with me to stop and say, ‘Hang on a minute, who is this person internally?’” Lynskey said.

She didn’t get the part in the end (it went to Maggie Gyllenhaal) but Lynskey wrote Newell a thank you note after her encounter with him. “It was just nice to have a good experience,” she said. “Sometimes that’s enough.”

Newell is an English filmmaker who won a Bafta for his work on Four Weddings and a Funeral, and also directed movies from Donnie Brasco to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Elsewhere in the interview, Lynskey discussed her career resurgence, her relationship with Jason Ritter and her status as a queer icon.

Yellowjackets, in which Lynskey plays plane crash survivor Shauna, returned for a second season last month. Read The Independent’s three-star review here.

Maggie Gyllenhaal in ‘Mona Lisa Smile’
Maggie Gyllenhaal in ‘Mona Lisa Smile’ (Sony)

Lynskey also won plaudits for her role as a ruthless commander in HBO’s video game adaptation,The Last of Us.

Read about the controversies surrounding the forthcoming second season of that show, here.

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