After 30 years of critical acclaim, the actor has finally found mainstream success at 44. She talks about Hollywood’s dangerous beauty standards, turning down misogynistic scripts – and why her TV show about possible teenage cannibals is so much fun

It would not surprise me if Melanie Lynskey had deliberately matched her pale blouse to the pale curtains behind her, and her pale complexion, the better to blend into the background. After 30 years of critical acclaim, but not mainstream fame, Lynskey is getting noticed and it feels very, very strange to her. Her show, Yellowjackets, has steadily become a hit. Lynskey is not quite the lead in this ensemble piece, but near enough, as one of four fortysomething women who survived a plane crash as teenagers, and went through some savage stuff, involving murder and almost certainly cannibalism.

Likened to a mix of Lord of the Flies, Lost and Mean Girls, with a pleasing amount of 90s nostalgia, it has become one of the most talked-about shows of the moment. “It’s funny to be on something that people are watching,” Lynskey says with a laugh. “It’s a different experience.”

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