After talking to actress Melanie Lynskey on the phone, it’s hard to believe how well the New Zealand-bred actress feigns an American accent. Lynskey stars in Mark and Jay Duplass’ hit HBO show, Togetherness, as Michelle Pierson, a stay-at-home mom wrestling with marital issues. In the midst of filming season 2 (for release in January 2016), Melanie took some time to chat with me about her favorite wineries in New Zealand, all-time favorite meals, and what to expect next season on Togetherness.
Your Twitter bio reads, “Constant portrayer of morose and dispirited types.” Do you think that people who can play darker roles on the contrast have a more comedic side?
Yes, I’d like to think so! All of my favorite comedians have that ability to be dark, like Kristin Wiig and Jonah Hill. In order to play that sort of role you have to be able to feel the extremities of all emotions. But that one liner was actually a quote I took from a writer that wrote that about me, which I found so funny. Way to pigeonhole.
And I thought you were being serious! How is the filming of the second season of Togetherness going?
It’s going well! Today is actually my day off. It’s really exciting because of the new script, and there’s new characters. Jay and Mark Duplass (the creators of Togetherness) both work on other shows, so we have to schedule around that. I’m just hoping it is as good as the first season! I always get scared that it won’t be the same, but it’s just been a big reunion and so nice to see everyone. There’s definitely a lot of character development, without giving anything away.
Did you need to have a drink before filming your nude scene?
I’m actually not one to drink when I’m feeling uncomfortable, I sort of just play into the emotion raw. I would rather experience it so I know what it felt like. I’m also nervous to add alcohol to any sort of nerve wracking situation. But I know that’s disappointing! Everyone was like oh maybe you should have some tequila.
So, you’re from New Zealand. Let me tell you, you mask that American accent quite well on TV. Where would you tell a visitor to go eat and drink if they visited?
Now I usually rely on my friends who live there! But I absolutely love Otago, which is a wine region in New Zealand. The Pinot Noir from there is super delicious, and really earthy. Also there is a region called Hawkes Bay, which is probably my favorite for wine-making. They have really amazing Chardonnay and Merlot.
Sounds lovely. I’m Brooklyn-based, but I have a thing for LA. What are some of your favorite bars there?
I love Brooklyn! I can’t imagine how anyone would want to live in Manhattan. When my boyfriend was filming there, I spent a lot of time in Brooklyn; there’s so many great bars and restaurants. Although I also love LA. There’s this great bar in LA called Covell, where you go and explain to the staff what you seek in a wine, and they pour you three different tastes based on what you describe. Then you choose one, or more! The staff there is so knowledgeable and friendly, it’s a really fun experience. I actually discovered my favorite wine there, Negrette, and its from the south of France. The winery is called Chateau Flotis.
Nice. So, let’s imagine you can eat whatever you want today. What’s your dream meal?
This is the greatest question I’ve ever been asked! I really love bread and cheese. I’d definitely start with a cheese plate and some olives. If I’m at a fancy restaurant, I’ll go for fish and a salad. On some occasions I’ll go to Osteria Mozza in LA, or Otto in New York for that Mario-Batali-rich-Italian-food. And for dessert, have you heard of the Pie Hole in New York? It’s downtown, and everyday they make amazing pies, and they always have a seasonal cheesecake. It’s the only dessert I’ve ever encountered where I have absolutely no control! I’m not big on sweets, but those pies are crazy.
I must check it out then! Lastly, what’s your favorite part about being an actress?
My favorite thing about acting is getting to experience something transformative. Sometimes you go through a tough experience, and when you can use that emotion in your work, it can help you get to a new place with what is going on with you. The greatest part is when people can relate; when those who have been through difficult times watch your work and it helps them. When someone has told me I made them laugh when they were sad, or something my character did helped them through something, it always means the most.