Known for movies

Short Info

Net Worth$5 million
Date Of BirthMay 16, 1977
SpouseJimmi Simpson
FactShe was discovered by Fran Walsh during an exhaustive search for a teenage actress to play Pauline Parker in Heavenly Creatures (1994), just two weeks before filming was due to commence.

Melanie Lynskey is a New Zealand actress. She was born in New Plymouth, New Zealand, on May 16, 1977, to parents Kay and John Lynskey. She has two older brothers, Tony and David. Lynskey was educated at New Plymouth Girls’ High School, where she was a member of the school choir. She then attended Victoria University of Wellington, where she studied English literature.

Lynskey’s acting career began when she was cast as a lead in the film Heavenly Creatures (1994). The film was a critical and commercial success, and Lynskey’s performance earned her several awards, including the New Zealand Film and Television Award for Best Actress. She has since appeared in a number of films and television series, including The Informant! (2009), Up in the Air (2009), Two and a Half Men (2003-2015), and I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017).

Lynskey has been married to actor Jimmi Simpson since 2007. The couple have two children together.

Lynskey’s net worth is estimated to be $4 million.

General Info

Full NameMelanie Lynskey
Net Worth$5 million
Date Of BirthMay 16, 1977
Height1.7 m
EducationVictoria University of Wellington
NationalityNew Zealand


SpouseJimmi Simpson
ParentsKay Lynskey, Tim Lynskey


NominationsCritics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Actor, Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Acting Ensemble
MoviesWe'll Never Have Paris, Heavenly Creatures, Hello I Must Be Going, The Intervention, Up in the Air, Happy Christmas, Ever After, The Informant!, Coyote Ugly, Sweet Home Alabama, But I'm a Cheerleader, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Away We Go, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Shattered G...
TV ShowsTogetherness, Two and a Half Men, The Life & Times of Tim, Drive, Rose Red, Comanche Moon

Social profile links


1I was really shy as a child. I walked around with a constant fear that I'd say something stupid and be laughed at, or that people were looking at me and thinking I wasn't pretty enough, interesting enough, smart enough. When I discovered acting, I felt an immense freedom. I felt like I could explore different aspects of myself without fear of judgement. I was able to be brave in a way that was really hard for me in real life.
2The thing that I really, really don't like is when [a director] is overly specific, when you walk into a rehearsal and someone says: "Now you walk over here, and you open the cupboard, and you take this out. Then you stand here and you deliver this line." And they give you line readings. I don't like feeling like somebody doesn't trust me to bring what I'm going to bring to it... I get really claustrophobic when somebody's trying to control it, because then I'm like, "Why? You should have gotten another actor!"
3[on directors] Everybody has a different style. Clint Eastwood is a great, great director - but he barely says anything. The magical thing about the way he works is that he creates an environment that feels like a church, kind of - it feels so sacred and comfortable - and everybody's just relaxed, doing the best work they can do. It's weird, there's not a lot of talking or communicating... And then there are some directors who talk and talk and talk and talk, like Sam Mendes; you talk about everything and go over everything. So everybody's very different, and I've done movies with first-time directors who are just on it, and amazing. Then, sometimes, I've done movies with people who have directed a few movies, and you're like, "I don't know how to communicate with you; don't know what you're asking me to do right now." It's like a relationship.
4When I was doing The Informant! (2009), Matt Damon said something to me that I really have lived by ever since... "At the end of your career, when someone looks over your filmography, all they remember is if the movie was good or not." They're not saying, "Oh, he got to play that crazy character!" or, "Oh, all those people were in that movie"... so, if you consistently choose good scripts - whether you're in three scenes or every scene - you're going to build a very strong résumé. At the end of your life, you'll be in a lot of movies that you can feel proud of, and it's such a nice feeling to be a part of something that you really believe in. So even if it's just a couple of scenes, if I think the movie is good, I'll do it.
5[on Short Cuts (1993)] This movie was a big one for me. I saw it when I was sixteen and [thought] "Yep, that's the dream." I loved the idea of doing a film like that. Still, to this day, this is the movie I most wish I could insert myself into.
6[on working with Kate Winslet] She had incredible ambition and drive and such a huge belief in herself. And of course, she should have had that belief because she's a fucking genius!
7I want to be like Julianne Moore and get to do things that scare me--and keep on doing them until I'm very old.
8[on the idea of a "perfect role"] I feel grateful to be working... I don't have a dream of playing a one-legged Scottish drug addict.
9I like to play the grey areas in life - that's the most uncomfortable place to be. Nobody likes to be in that in-between state where they don't know what's going to happen. There's a lot of tension in that, and a lot of stuff to play with - where it's uncomfortable and awkward and sad and scary.
10I know a lot of actors have all these expectations and believe that one thing should lead to another thing and that's probably the right way to build a career. I don't know what's wrong with me--I just don't think like that!
11[on her ability to perfect an American accent] When I first came [to Los Angeles] I stayed with Joss Whedon and his wife... He had this insane video collection, and I'd just sit and watch all these films and try to imitate every accent I heard. I remember watching Juliette Lewis and trying to do her white trash accent. I would just talk back to all these movies--they were my dialect coach.
12The most beautiful people to me are those who seem at peace within themselves and give of themselves generously. Also I think eyeliner is magic.
13The female actors I have been most inspired by are all very sure of who they are as human beings and as artists. They're solid, good, kind people. They trust their instincts, and are focused on making honest work that moves people. They're kind to the crew, to fellow actors, and to women in general... Even in challenging conditions, they are gracious... The main women who come to mind who have inspired me most having seen them in action are Anjelica Huston, Katrin Cartlidge, Tina Holmes, Jessica Hecht, Amy Poehler, Lena Dunham, Amy Ryan, Catherine O'Hara, and Kathy Najimy.
14[on Hello I Must Be Going (2012)] I assumed they were giving [the part] to Michelle Williams or Maggie Gyllenhaal... It felt like such a gift.
15[on working with Steven Soderbergh] It was the greatest experience... If Steven called me up tomorrow and said, "Will you come bring Matt Damon a cup of tea in this scene?" I would say "Yes, absolutely."
16I feel like every job I get is kind of a fight. It's jumping through hoops and convincing people I can do it, trying to get people who are financing things to take the chance on somebody who's not famous.
17I feel so grateful when I see a movie and there's a woman who looks somewhat like me. I'm like, "Thank you, Samantha Morton!" You know, a woman who feels like a human being. That means so much to me. If I can be that person for someone, that's a much more powerful thing than me trying to starve myself or shrink myself and become something that I'm not.
18[...] in Montreal, this girl came up to me and said, "Has anyone ever told you that you look like Melanie Lynskey?" Some [people] come up and say that they were in school with me, or that I'm a friend of someone they know.
19The first audition I ever did, the casting director said, "I don't know why you're here. You're never going to work in America. You don't look right. You don't have the right kind of personality. I don't even know if you can do an American accent. Maybe you can try England." Other people were nice, but that's the first thing I ever heard when I came here. It made me more determined.
20[on Rose Red (2002)] I wasn't allowed to do anything quirky, or to have an interesting accent. So the challenge lay in making [the character] as interesting as I could without making her unusual. And that was hard!
21[on Charlie Sheen's reaction to her New Zealand accent] He turned around and said, "What's this, uh, voice? What are you doing?" I said, "I'm just talking." Then he said, "Hmmm. Is that some kind of actor-y thing?"
22[on working with Charlie Sheen] We get on terribly. I can't stand him. No, he's great. He's really quiet and shy and sweet.
23[on the success of Two and a Half Men (2003)] It seems funny to me that it's all worked so well. I have so much respect for the people who do this. It's so hard to keep the energy up and to make people laugh.
24I always thought I'd be in New Zealand doing theater. Everything I've done is greater than my greatest dreams.
25If I ever have time off and don't know what's coming up next, I get really nervous and think, 'Oh well, it's probably over.'
26You always see those movies that have amazing casts, and it's funny to be in one of them. It's a list of all these fantastic people--and, oh, me as well.
27I don't think I'll ever be a movie star.
28[on life after Heavenly Creatures (1994)] I think the hardest thing was to go back to school. It's a pretty catty environment at an all-girls school and things happened. For example, 60 Minutes (1993) came to do a story on me and followed me around for a day. At school you just don't need that. And then I would have to go to New York or Sydney for a week and take time out. And while they were amazing experiences, it was hard because I had these two completely separate lives. I think a lot of people resented that. It put me outside of them a bit.


1Her surname, "Lynskey", is Irish.
2Her favorite authors are Margaret Atwood and Milan Kundera.
3Her father is an orthopedic surgeon and her mother is a real estate agent.
4Turned down a role in Mansfield Park (1999) for fear of typecasting - she'd already played a similar part in Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998).
5The directors she'd most like to work with are Noah Baumbach, Jane Campion, Michael Haneke and Nicole Holofcener.
6Has appeared in three films (to date) with her friend Gillian Jacobs; Helena from the Wedding (2010), Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012) and The Big Ask (2013).
7Showgirls (1995) is one of her favorite movies, along with Blue Velvet (1986), Kicking and Screaming (1995), Naked (1993) and Wet Hot American Summer (2001).
8One of her best friends is Michael Weston, whom she met during the making of Coyote Ugly (2000) (he played her husband in the film). Twelve years later, Weston's real-life father - John Rubinstein - played her character's dad in Hello I Must Be Going (2012).
9(1999-2000) Lived in London with Andrew Howard, whom she met during the filming of The Cherry Orchard (1999).
10(September 25, 2012) Filed for divorce from her husband of 5 years, Jimmi Simpson, after 5 months of separation.
11Supporter of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and HSUS (The Humane Society of the United States).
12She had just turned 18 when she made a cameo appearance in The Frighteners (1996), which was her second collaboration with Peter Jackson (the first being Heavenly Creatures (1994)).
13Friends with Joss Whedon.
14Close friend Emily Deschanel was a bridesmaid at her wedding.
15Was the first person to kiss Kate Winslet in a film (Heavenly Creatures (1994)).
16Received coaching from co-star Sarah Peirse for her debut in Heavenly Creatures (1994).
17She has a dog called Mouse, a chihuahua-dachshund mix, which she named after her character in Abandon (2002).
18Friends with Clea DuVall and Natasha Lyonne, both of whom she worked with in But I'm a Cheerleader (1999).
19Frequently works with past co-stars.
20Almost landed the role of Valerie (played by Patricia Arquette) in Little Nicky (2000), and was considered for Cameron Diaz's role in Gangs of New York (2002).
21She was discovered by Fran Walsh during an exhaustive search for a teenage actress to play Pauline Parker in Heavenly Creatures (1994), just two weeks before filming was due to commence.
22Auditioned for roles in The Crucible (1996), Scream (1996) and Cousin Bette (1998).
23Named one of E! Online's "Sizzlin' Sixteen" in 2003.
24She attended New Plymouth Girls' High School, and later studied at Victoria University of Wellington, NZ.
25Has three younger brothers and one younger sister.
26Became a vegetarian at the age of 10. However, she now eats seafood, so has to call herself a 'pescetarian' (which she thinks sounds "pretentious").




And Then I Go2017post-productionJanice
The Changeover2017post-productionKate Chant
I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore2017completedRuth Kimke
Life at These Speeds2016completedCoach Rowan
Future-Worm!2016TV SeriesMegan
Our Ex-Wife2016TV SeriesSara
Folk Hero & Funny Guy2016Becky
Little Boxes2016Gina
Togetherness2015-2016TV SeriesMichelle Pierson
Animals.2016TV SeriesLinda
The Great & The Small2016Margaret
Rainbow Time2016Lindsay
The Intervention2016/IAnnie
Key and Peele2015TV SeriesFiance
Two and a Half Men2003-2015TV SeriesRose
Digging for Fire2015Squiggy
Jake and the Never Land Pirates2014-2015TV SeriesPearl
Over the Garden Wall2014TV Mini-SeriesBeatrice
Goodbye to All That2014Annie Wall
We'll Never Have Paris2014Devon
Chu and Blossom2014Miss Shoemaker
They Came Together2014Brenda
Happy Christmas2014Kelly
The Big Ask2013Hannah
The Perks of Being a Wallflower2012Aunt Helen
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World2012Karen
Eye of the Hurricane2012Amelia Kyte
The Life & Times of Tim2010-2012TV SeriesBecky
House M.D.2012TV SeriesNatalie Tavares
Hello I Must Be Going2012Amy
Win Win2011Cindy
Memphis Beat2010TV SeriesAnnaliese Jones
Helena from the Wedding2010Alice
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia2009TV SeriesKate
Leaves of Grass2009Colleen
The Informant!2009Ginger Whitacre
Up in the Air2009/IJulie Bingham
Away We Go2009Munch
A Quiet Little Marriage2008Monique
Show of Hands2008Jess
The L Word2008TV SeriesClea Mason
Psych2008TV SeriesEmily Bloom
Comanche Moon2008TV Mini-SeriesPearl Coleman
Itty Bitty Titty Committee2007Plastic Surgery Lady (uncredited)
Drive2007TV SeriesWendy Patrakas
Flags of Our Fathers2006Pauline Harnois
Say Uncle2005Susan
The Nearly Unadventurous Life of Zoe Cadwaulder2004ShortZoe Cadwaulder
Shattered Glass2003Amy Brand
The Shield2003TV SeriesMarcy
Sweet Home Alabama2002Lurlynn
Abandon2002Mousy Julie (as Melanie Jayne Lynskey)
Rose Red2002TV Mini-SeriesRachel Wheaton
Coyote Ugly2000Gloria
Measureless to Man1999Short
The Cherry Orchard1999Dunyasha
But I'm a Cheerleader1999Hilary
Detroit Rock City1999Beth
Foreign Correspondents1999Melody
Ever After: A Cinderella Story1998Jacqueline
The Frighteners1996Deputy
Heavenly Creatures1994Pauline Parker


The Making of 'Away We Go'2009Video documentary short special thanks


Made in Hollywood2016TV SeriesHerself
The 5th Annual Critics' Choice Television Awards2015TV SpecialHerself
Celebrity Name Game2014-2015TV SeriesHerself
A Kiwi Legend2013ShortHerself
The Talk2012TV SeriesHerself - Guest
The Jeff Probst Show2012TV SeriesHerself - Guest
Big Morning Buzz Live2012TV SeriesHerself - Guest
The High Bar2012TV SeriesHerself - Guest
Tavis Smiley2012TV SeriesHerself - Guest
15th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards2010TV SpecialHerself
The 33rd Annual People's Choice Awards2007TV Special documentaryHerself
The 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards2006TV SpecialHerself
50 Films to See Before You Die2006TV Movie documentaryHerself
Big Brother2005TV SeriesHerself
The 30th Annual People's Choice Awards2004TV SpecialHerself

Archive Footage

Cinema of Unease: A Personal Journey by Sam Neill1995DocumentaryPauline Parker


Won Awards

2016Special Jury PrizeSundance Film FestivalDramaticThe Intervention (2016)
2015BTVA People's Choice Voice Acting AwardBehind the Voice Actors AwardsBest Vocal Ensemble in a New Television SeriesOver the Garden Wall (2014)
2014Emerging MasterRiverRun International Film Festival
2012SDFCS AwardSan Diego Film Critics Society AwardsBest Ensemble PerformanceThe Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
2011CinEuphoriaCinEuphoria AwardsBest Supporting Actress - International CompetitionAway We Go (2009)
2009Spotlight AwardHollywood Film Awards
1995Film AwardNew Zealand Film and TV Awards (I)Best ActressHeavenly Creatures (1994)

Nominated Awards

2015BTVA Television Voice Acting AwardBehind the Voice Actors AwardsBest Female Lead Vocal Performance in a Television Series - Comedy/MusicalOver the Garden Wall (2014)
2015BTVA Television Voice Acting AwardBehind the Voice Actors AwardsBest Vocal Ensemble in a New Television SeriesOver the Garden Wall (2014)
2015Critics' Choice TV AwardCritics Choice Television AwardsBest Supporting Actress in a Comedy SeriesTogetherness (2015)
2014Best ActressFargo Film FestivalPutzel (2012)
2012ACCAAwards Circuit Community AwardsBest Cast EnsembleThe Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
2012Gotham Independent Film AwardGotham AwardsBreakthrough ActorHello I Must Be Going (2012)
2010Gold Derby AwardGold Derby AwardsEnsemble CastUp in the Air (2009)
2009DFCS AwardDenver Film Critics SocietyBest Acting EnsembleUp in the Air (2009)
2009Film AwardNew Zealand Film and TV Awards (II)Best Lead Actress in a Feature FilmShow of Hands (2008)
2009WAFCA AwardWashington DC Area Film Critics Association AwardsBest EnsembleUp in the Air (2009)
2001Film AwardNew Zealand Film and TV Awards (I)Best ActressSnakeskin (2001)
1999Acting AwardChicago Alt.Film FestBest ActressForeign Correspondents (1999)

2nd Place Awards

2010COFCA AwardCentral Ohio Film Critics AssociationBest EnsembleUp in the Air (2009)
2009ACCAAwards Circuit Community AwardsBest Cast EnsembleUp in the Air (2009)

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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