New Plymouth-raised Melanie Lynskey made her screen debut as Pauline Parker in the Oscar-nominated Heavenly Creatures (1994). Since then she has starred in Kiwi films Snakeskin and Show of Hands, and cultivated a career in Hollywood. Her long stateside CV now includes Two and a Half Men, The Informant! and starring roles in indie movie Hello I Must Be Going and acclaimed cable TV series Togetherness.
I always wanted to be an actress, but to be in Heavenly Creatures at the age of 15 literally changed my life. Melanie Lynskey, in an interview in the Sunday Star-Times
The movie that saw splatter-king Peter Jackson lauded by a whole new audience was born from Fran Walsh's long fascination with the Parker-Hulme case: two teenagers who invented imaginary worlds, wrote under imaginary personas, and in June 1954 murdered Pauline Parker's mother. Walsh and Jackson's kinetic vision of friendship, creativity and tragedy was greeted with Oscar nominations, deals with indie powerhouse Miramax, and rhapsodic acclaim for the film, and newbies Melanie Lynskey and Kate Winslet. Time magazine and 30 other publications named it one of the year's 10 best films.
This star-studded short features Kiwi icon Colin ‘Pinetree’ Meads, plus Melanie Lynskey (Heavenly Creatures), 7 Days comics Dai Henwood and Steve Wrigley, Olympic shot putter Valerie Adams and All Black first five Beauden Barrett. The celebs reflect on a radical reboot of beloved Red Band gumboots by Denise L'Estrange-Corbet, from fashion label World. A deadpan Meads is alarmed by this affront to farming fashion. Co-produced by Millie Lynskey (sister of Melanie), the film took away the Viewer's Choice award at the local arm of short film event Tropfest.
For her first feature, writer/director Gillian Ashurst wanted a “big wide road movie; big skies; big long roads.” Cruising the Canterbury landscapes are small-town dreamers Alice (Heavenly Creature Melanie Lynskey) and Johnny (Dean O’Gorman). But the duo’s adventures go awry after encountering a charming American cowboy. Reviews were generally upbeat: praising the talented cast, plus Ashurst’s ability to mix moods and genres. Snakeskin won five awards at the 2001 NZ Film and TV Awards, including best film and cinematography.
The second feature film directed by writer Anthony McCarten (Ladies' Night) is a small tale with some big themes. Set in a New Plymouth car yard, the film chronicles an endurance contest in which a car will be awarded to the person who manages to keep their hands on it the longest. As night falls, solo mother Jess (Melanie Lynskey) finds herself fending off the attentions of an obstinate competitor (Craig Hall), with a much harsher vision of the world than hers. Inspired by similar real-life contests, McCarten based the film on his novel Endurance.