There are mild spoilers ahead for The Last of Us Episode 4!
Melanie Lynskey is one of my favorite — and often underrated — actors in Hollywood. She's starred in amazing films like Heavenly Creatures, Coyote Ugly, and But I'm a Cheerleader, and now she's receiving much-deserved critical acclaim for her work on Yellowjackets.
And she's currently guest-starring on the hit HBO series The Last of Us alongside Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey. Melanie is playing Kathleen, the leader of a group in Kansas City who are now running the QZ after overthrowing FEDRA.
Melanie's The Last of Us character was created for the TV series and wasn't in the video games the show is based on. She made her debut in Episode 4, titled "Please Hold to My Hand," and is expected to play a huge role in the upcoming fifth episode.
As soon as Melanie's casting was announced, fans were so excited to see her in The Last of Us, so much so that this now-iconic Twitter exchange happened, which I think about at least once a month.
However, despite a swarm of supporters, that didn't stop one person from voicing their criticism of Melanie's casting after her first The Last of Us episode aired. Melanie perfectly shut them down after it was apparent that their issue was with her body type.
In a since-deleted tweet, model Adrianne Curry responded to a photo of Melanie from an InStyle photo shoot, saying, "her body says life of luxury...not post apoc[a]lyptic warlord. where is [Terminator actor] linda hamilton when you need her?"
Melanie tweeted a screenshot of the reply and responded to the criticism, saying, "Firstly— this is a photo from my cover shoot for InStyle magazine, not a still from HBO's The Last Of Us. And I'm playing a person who meticulously planned & executed an overthrow of FEDRA."
She continued, "I am supposed to be SMART, ma'am. I don't need to be muscly. That's what henchmen are for."
Cue me clapping on my couch because, YES, Melanie.
Then, in a separate Twitter thread, Melanie detailed why she loved working on The Last of Us and why her casting as Kathleen was so important to her.
She began, "Other than getting to work with creative geniuses who I respect and admire (Neil [Druckmann] & Craig [Mazin]) the thing that excited me most about doing #TheLastOfUs is that my casting suggested the possibility of a future in which people start listening to the person with the best ideas."
Melanie added, "Not the coolest or the toughest person. The organiser. The person who knows where everything is. The person who is doing the planning. The person who can multitask. The one who's decisive."
She continued with, "Women, and especially women in leadership positions, are scrutinized incessantly. Her voice is too shrill. Her voice is too quiet. She pays too much attention to how she looks. She doesn’t pay enough attention to how she looks. She's too angry. She’s not angry enough."
She said, "I was excited at the idea of playing a woman who had, in a desperate and tragic time, jumped into a role she had never planned on having and nobody else had planned on her having, and then she actually got shit done."
Melanie also said, "I wanted her to look like she should have a notepad on her at all times. I wanted her to be feminine, and soft-voiced, and all the things that we've been told are 'weak'. Because honestly, fuck that."
Speaking directly to the body-shaming criticism, Melanie added, "I understand that some people are mad that I'm not the typical casting for this role. That's thrilling to me. Other than the moments after action is called, when you feel like you're actually in someone else's body, the most exciting part of my job is subverting expectations."
Melanie said on Twitter, "I'm so grateful to Craig and Neil for creating a truly new character. Someone I have never seen before. And for trusting me with her. And for letting me be on THE MOST AMAZING SHOW."
She concluded by saying, "And I'm also grateful because the love and support I receive from you all is so overwhelming and powerful— I feel like we are a community and I feel very seen and loved. Ok rant over and thank you all so very much."
This isn't the first time Melanie has spoken out about the body-shaming she has faced in Hollywood. Last year, she discussed her mistreatment on the set of Coyote Ugly, saying she received "really intense feedback about my physicality, my body, people doing my makeup and being like, 'I’m just going to help you out by giving you a bit more of a jawline and stuff.'"
Melanie also opened up about how her Yellowjackets costars rallied around her after a crew member implied that she should lose weight for the role, and her recovery from an eating disorder after constantly being reminded to be "thin, confident, and pretty," especially earlier in her career.
I'm so glad Melanie feels confident in speaking out about the body-shaming she's faced in Hollywood, and she definitely has a fan for life in me.
The National Eating Disorders Association helpline is 1-800-931-2237; for 24/7 crisis support, text “NEDA” to 741741.