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Melanie Lynskey

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Also Known As: Melanie Jayne Lynskey Died:
Born: May 16, 1977 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New Zealand Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A character actor who often stole scenes from her top-billed co-stars, Melanie Lynskey was one of Hollywood's most familiar faces on television and in film. After her explosive feature film debut as a teenage murderess in "Heavenly Creatures" (1994), Lynskey was often relegated to supportive roles, like playing a sweet stepsister in "Ever After: A Cinderella Story" (1998), a vaguely trashy best friend in "Sweet Home Alabama" (2002), or a doe-eyed housewife in "The Informant!" (2009). She worked steadily on television, with memorable roles on hit shows like "Two and a Half Men" (CBS, 2003- ), as a loveable but deranged stalker neighbor. A natural comedic actress, she also impressed in dramatic roles, most notably in "Away We Go" (2009) and in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" (2012). After years taking a backseat to others, Lynskey finally took top billing in the bittersweet romantic comedy "Hello I Must Be Going" (2012). As an out-of-work divorcée whose spiritless life gets a much-needed lift when she has an affair with a teenager, Lynskey's performance in "Hello I Must Be Going" was her long-overdue chance to not only shed her plain Jane image, but to also claim her well-deserved spot as a true...

A character actor who often stole scenes from her top-billed co-stars, Melanie Lynskey was one of Hollywood's most familiar faces on television and in film. After her explosive feature film debut as a teenage murderess in "Heavenly Creatures" (1994), Lynskey was often relegated to supportive roles, like playing a sweet stepsister in "Ever After: A Cinderella Story" (1998), a vaguely trashy best friend in "Sweet Home Alabama" (2002), or a doe-eyed housewife in "The Informant!" (2009). She worked steadily on television, with memorable roles on hit shows like "Two and a Half Men" (CBS, 2003- ), as a loveable but deranged stalker neighbor. A natural comedic actress, she also impressed in dramatic roles, most notably in "Away We Go" (2009) and in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" (2012). After years taking a backseat to others, Lynskey finally took top billing in the bittersweet romantic comedy "Hello I Must Be Going" (2012). As an out-of-work divorcée whose spiritless life gets a much-needed lift when she has an affair with a teenager, Lynskey's performance in "Hello I Must Be Going" was her long-overdue chance to not only shed her plain Jane image, but to also claim her well-deserved spot as a true leading lady.

Melanie Jayne Lynskey was born on May 16, 1977 in Plymouth, New Zealand. Lynskey originally wanted to become a film critic, but her life took a different turn when, at 16 years old, she was recruited from her high school during an open casting call and was cast in director Peter Jackson's crime drama "Heavenly Creatures," a true story based on the 1954 Parker-Hulme murder case in New Zealand. For her feature film debut, Lynskey played the role of Pauline Parker, a dumpy and outcast teenager whose forbidden relationship with her best friend Juliet Hulme (Kate Winslet) spirals out of control. Lynskey received critical acclaim for her compelling performance, including a Best Actress award at the New Zealand Film and TV Awards in 1995. Following her win, Lynskey completed high school and attended Victoria University in Wellington. Shortly after relocating to the States and specifically, Los Angeles, she appeared in the 1998 fantasy-romance "Ever After: A Cinderella Story," a modern interpretation of the classic fairytale featuring Drew Barrymore in the iconic role of Cinderella and Angelica Huston as the wicked stepmother. Unlike Cinderella's other mean stepsister, Lynskey was the stepsister who was kind and caring, albeit a little naïve and clumsy.

Lynskey went on to have many scene-stealing roles in films like "But I'm a Cheerleader" (1999), "Coyote Ugly" (2000), and the 2002 comedy "Sweet Home Alabama," as a childhood friend of Reese Witherspoon and a young, small-town mother who hangs out in bars with her baby. Lynskey worked steadily as a film actress, but she also made inroads on television. In 2003, she guest starred on "The Shield" (fX, 2002-08), in a chilling role as one-half of a couple who is suspected of torture and murder. The chilling way in which she manipulated the show's resident premier detective, Dutch Wagenbach (Jay Karnes), was entirely memorable and a clear indicator of her versatility. One of her more famous television roles was on the hit CBS sitcom "Two and a Half Men," the sitcom which chronicled the goings-on of Charlie Harper (Charlie Sheen), a womanizing bachelor whose laid-back lifestyle is interrupted when his uptight and recently divorced brother, Alan (Jon Cryer) and his nephew Jake (Jones), moves into his beach house. In a series that featured an endless stream of supermodel types who fell for Harper's charm, Lynskey stood out as his cute yet daft stalker neighbor. She left the show in 2005, and then reprised her role in 2012; this time, her obsessive character focused her sights on Sheen's replacement, Ashton Kutcher.

The talented actress stayed busy with a string of television guest roles as well as notable appearances in films like "Show of Hands" (2008), "The Informant!" (2009), as the supportive wife of an FBI whistleblower (Matt Damon) and in Jason Reitman's award-winning film "Up in the Air" (2009), where she played a teary-eyed young bride and the sister of a corporate "downsizer" (George Clooney) who leads an isolated life. Lynskey also earned praises for her small but memorable role in Sam Mendes' heartwarming drama "Away We Go," as a seemingly content adoptive parent who hides a painful secret. In 2012, after many years of playing sweet, supportive best friend or wife roles, Lynskey played against type in the critically acclaimed romantic comedy "Hello I Must Be Going," as an unemployed divorcée who moves back in with her parents and starts living like a sullen teenager, until she meets and falls in love with an actual teenager (Christian Abbott). Critics and audiences alike raved about Lynskey's earnest and sexy portrayal of a young woman who led an empty life but unexpectedly turns it around with the help of a more hopeful teenager. That same year, Lynskey also impressed in the feature film "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," as the very disturbed aunt of an introvert high school freshman (Logan Lerman) who opens up when he becomes friends with a popular teenager and his sister.

By Candy Cuenco

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
3.
4.
 Happy Christmas (2014)
5.
 Teddy Bears (2013)
6.
8.
 Putzel (2012)
9.
 Win Win (2011)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1988:
Studied acting in New Zealand for five years
1994:
Landed first professional acting role as Pauline Parker opposite Kate Winslet as Juliet Hulme in Peter Jackson's "Heavenly Creatures"; film based on the 1954 Parker-Hulme murder in New Zealand
1996:
Re-teamed with Jackson to play a police deputy in "The Frighteners"
1998:
Played one of the stepsisters in "Ever After: A Cinderella Story," starring Drew Barrymore in the title role
1999:
Appeared in Adam Rifkin's cult film "Detroit Rock City"
1999:
Co-starred in an adaptation of the Anton Chekhov play "The Cherry Orchard" alongside Charlotte Rampling and Gerard Butler
1999:
Co-starred with Natasha Lyonne in "But I'm a Cheerleader"
2000:
Played supporting role in "Coyote Ugly" as Piper Perabo's best friend
2002:
Played Reese Witherspoon's childhood friend in "Sweet Home Alabama"
2002:
Co-starred in the Stephen King miniseries "Red Rose" (ABC)
2003:
Guest starred on "The Shield" (FX) as a neighborhood psychopath
2003:
Starred opposite Hayden Christensen in "Shattered Glass"
2003:
Cast as Rose, the sweet and zany neighbor on the CBS sitcom "Two and a Half Men"
2006:
Landed substantial role in Clint Eastwood's World War II drama "Flags of Our Fathers"
2008:
Played the lead in the romantic film "Show of Hands"
2009:
Appeared in Sam Mendes' independent film "Away We Go"
2009:
Played title character's wife Ginger Whitacre opposite Matt Damon in "The Informant!"
2009:
Featured in Jason Reitman's "Up in the Air," starring George Clooney
2012:
Cast opposite Steve Carell and Keira Knightley in "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World"
2012:
Starred as a young divorcée who moves back in with her parents in romantic comedy "Hello I Must Be Going
2012:
Played supporting role in feature adaptation of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," written and directed by the novel's author Stephen Chbosky
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Victoria University of Wellington: -
New Plymouth Girls' High School: -

Notes

"Right after all that wonderful attention for 'Heavenly', I spent three months in Hollywood auditioning with skinny, gorgeous, terrifying girls. Casting directors would look me over, sigh and say, 'You were so good in that movie, but I don't know what else to do with you.' I got fixated on how I looked, whether I was thin enough or my face was too wide. It was awful."

"Acting was all I'd ever wanted to do, but after an amazing director for whom I was auditioning told me, 'I'm getting nothing from you. Something's destroyed you,' I broke down crying, saying, 'I've just had the worst time in Hollywood.' She advised me, 'Go away for three months and reclaim yourself.'" --Melanie Lynskey in MOVIELINE, May 1999

"Some actors only like doing what they know they're good at, but not me. I want to be like Julianne Moore and get to do things that scare me--and keep on doing them until I'm very old." --Lynskey to MOVIELINE, May 1999

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Andrew Howard. Actor. Welsh; met while shooting "Varya" (filmed in 1998), a movie version of "The Cherry Orchard"; living together in London as of May 1999.

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