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Emmys: The Hollywood Reporter’s TV Critics Pick Their Favorite Contenders

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Emmys: The Hollywood Reporter’s TV Critics Pick Their Favorite Contenders

COMEDY

BEST SERIES

Where to even begin with this category? The past year has been a veritable trove of comedy riches, delivering gems like Only Murders in the Building, Abbott Elementary, Somebody Somewhere, We Are Lady Parts and The Afterparty — and that’s not even getting into such returning shows as Atlanta, Barry, The Flight Attendant, Hacks or 2021’s champion, Ted Lasso. If there’s one new title I’d really love to see included in the pack, though, it’s Reservation Dogs.

Sterlin Harjo’s series burst out of the gate with confidence, creativity and a sly sense of humor, taking on all manner of Native teen life on a rural Oklahoma reservation. From episode to episode, we never knew if we’d be treated to a chip-truck heist, a run-in with the Deer Lady or a tender exploration of grief. Reservation Dogs could be hilarious, it could be heartbreaking, it could be both at once. Whatever else it was, it always felt like a breath of fresh air. — A.H.

BEST ACTOR

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The gap between Barry mastermind Bill Hader and Ted Lasso frontman Jason Sudeikis at the top of the field and everybody else may be greater than in any other category. Steve Martin and Martin Short will be nominated for Only Murders in the Building because they’re Steve Martin and Martin Short, and I can’t argue with that, but from there, there’s a lot of arguing. Donald Glover is always great on Atlanta, but in this odd season was he really central to enough episodes? Are any of the What We Do in the Shadows guys truly leads or is it an ensemble of exceptional complementary supporting pieces? One could argue the same for The Afterparty, though I think Sam Richardson’s evolution from impeccable comic foil to compelling romantic lead is worthy of notice. Otherwise, I like Jake Johnson of Minx and Nicholas Hoult of The Great, even if I’d also argue that they’re both in support of their leading ladies. — D.F.

BEST ACTRESS

When I think of lead performances that make or break the entire series, my mind goes first to Kaley Cuoco as Cassie in The Flight Attendant. In the first season, she deployed a chaotic, wide-eyed sense of desperation that not only helped sell the tension but made us care about this trainwreck of a heroine in spite of ourselves. The second doubles down on Cuoco’s performance, asking her to play not just a new and improved Cassie (She’s sober now! And goes jogging!) but to play every version of Cassie still kicking around inside of her, from a sardonic party girl to a judgmental priss. Cuoco proves more than up to the challenge and with each installment finds new facets of the flaky, self-absorbed but nevertheless oddly endearing protagonist we’ve been rooting for since day one. — A.H.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

It’s challenging to justify coming up with six or eight lead actor in a comedy contenders, and it’s even harder to cut supporting actor in a comedy down to 25, especially when shows like Barry (Henry Winker, Anthony Carrigan and Stephen Root), Ted Lasso (Brett Goldstein, Nick Mohammed, Brendan Hunt), What We Do in the Shadows (anyone they choose to submit as “supporting”) and Atlanta (Brian Tyree Henry, LaKeith Stanfield) are in line for multiple nods. Let’s say we make an arbitrary one-per-show limit and nominate Winkler, Goldstein, Kayvan Novak and Henry, and then there’s room for Tyler James Williams (Abbott Elementary), Taika Waititi (Our Flag Means Death) and anybody — Zahn McClarnon, one of the kids, anybody — from Reservation Dogs. — D.F.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

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Sally may be a fairly shallow sort, but Sarah Goldberg’s performance has been anything but — and in Barry‘s third season, she took the character to her blackest depths yet, as both victim and perpetrator in the show’s cycles of abuse. Her trembling, blood-splattered face in the finale alone makes her deserving of a nomination.

But this is technically a comedy category, so I expect she’ll be up against some equally impressive yet much more lighthearted performances. Zoë Chao’s work on The Afterparty was the stuff rom-com queen dreams are made of. Zosia Mamet’s deadpan delivery was a highlight of The Flight Attendant‘s sophomore season. Janelle James had me in stitches practically every time she opened her mouth or mugged for the camera as cheerfully self-absorbed Ava on Abbott Elementary. And, I am just going to point out that this year marks the very last chance to reward Aidy Bryant for her tremendous decadelong tenure on SNL. — A.H.

DRAMA

BEST SERIES

Have I mentioned lately that Succession is actually a dark comedy that has been consistently miscategorized for Emmy purposes as a drama? Well, it’s true. It should still be nominated whenever it’s eligible. Apple TV+ should have a pair of new nominees here, with the propulsive, genre-bending strangeness of Severance and astonishing scope, production values and ensemble of Pachinko. I’m most fearful that Pachinko is going to get left out because Emmy voters may feel like it’s already revolutionary to nominate one Korean-language series, but why not Squid Game and Pachinko? And the first half of the final season of AMC’s Better Call Saul, complete with several shocking twists, should be right below Succession on any list, while fellow returnees Evil and The Good Fight — all hail the quirky, timely storytelling from Robert and Michelle King — aren’t in any realistic conversations, but ought to be. — D.F.

BEST ACTOR

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Better Call Saul has been the perennial bridesmaid of the comedy categories, racking up not one single Primetime Emmy win out of 39 noms over the past five seasons. But with the series coming to a close this year, it’s now or never, and I’ve got my fingers crossed for “now.” Bob Odenkirk’s performance as Saul Goodman has been a standout since Breaking Bad, but it’s Saul that’s shown us what he’s really capable of, as the series painstakingly traces his journey from sweet (if sketchy) Jimmy McGill to the soulless, sleazy Saul. The man deserves recognition for the decade-plus he’s spent in the character’s shiny suits, and I can’t think of a better goodbye gift than the Emmy he so richly deserves. — A.H.

BEST ACTRESS

My fear is that voters are going to get complacent in this category and waste space on various Killing Eve and The Morning Show stars. It isn’t that I’m opposed to nominees from shows I don’t like. Ozark isn’t spectacular, but Laura Linney is. Euphoria is a questionably focused mess, but Zendaya’s ability to be astonishingly raw and wonderfully silly is unmatched. And I’m not even wholly opposed to complacency. No Handmaid’s Tale season this year? Nominate category regular Elisabeth Moss for Shining Girls instead! Missed Carrie Coon for three seasons of The Leftovers? The Gilded Age will have to do! I’m hoping voters will follow critical attention and nominate Melanie Lynskey for Yellowjackets, and I’m wishing that love for Severance will extend to Britt Lower, the show’s unsung anchor. — D.F.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Here’s a category that could be stuffed with deserving repeats. Kieran Culkin, Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Braun each leveled up their already fantastic performances with the most recent season of Succession. Jonathan Banks and Giancarlo Esposito have more than earned a victory lap for their years of fine work on Better Call Saul — and if Emmy voters are feeling warmly toward the series, I’d be thrilled to see Michael Mando’s harrowing performance in the first half of the final season also score a nomination.

In a just world, though, all of them will find stiff competition in the men of Severance. John Turturro and Christopher Walken’s romance touched our hearts with its warmth and delicacy. Zach Cherry was knowingly obnoxious comic relief —until he wasn’t. And we’ll surely never forget Tramell Tillman as Mr. Milchick, who seemed to embody the very spirit of Lumon by combining bright, phony smiles with an unmistakable aura of menace. — A.H.

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Rhea Seehorn should be submitted as lead for Better Call Saul, but whatever category she’s in, she gets my top vote. Better Call Saul needs Seehorn and Kim Wexler to be as good as it is. I could make the same argument that Sarah Snook borders on a Succession lead, but regardless she should be nominated. Julia Garner is a lock for a nomination, and deserves to be, because Ruth has always been the best part of Ozark and that was doubly true for the two-part final season. Jung Ho-yeon looks like a lock for Squid Game, and she deserves to be, but again I worry that voters will think one subtitled performance is enough, which would mean leaving Yuh-Jung Youn out for Pachinko. However many nominees there are, I would round out the field with Christina Ricci (Yellowjackets), Patricia Arquette (Severance) and Sydney Sweeney, who is so good in Euphoria, even when her material is tawdry and exploitative. — D.F.

LIMITED/ANTHOLOGY

BEST SERIES

I found presumptive frontrunner Dopesick to be well-meaning, unquestionably important and fairly dreadful, other than Michael Keaton and Kaitlyn Dever, but it’s representative of a generally imperfect field that lacks an Underground Railroad/I May Destroy You-style critical juggernaut. Mike White’s scathing The White Lotus and the challenging tonal triumph of Netflix’s Maid were the year’s two best examinations of income inequality and would lead my list, along with HBO Max’s haunting and lyrical Station Eleven. In a spring of nonstop ripped-from-the-headlines (or podcast/documentary) limited series, Hulu’s The Dropout and HBO Max’s The Staircase boasted the best ensembles and felt the least exploitative. Among dark horses, HBO’s We Own This City is another substantive David Simon exploration of institutions for voters to snub, while I admired the provocative mixture of faith and horror at the heart of Netflix’s Midnight Mass. — D.F.

BEST ACTOR

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Michael Keaton made me yearn for a better version of Dopesick, while Oscar Isaac made me yearn for a version of Scenes From a Marriage that actually had anything to say about the state of modern nuptials. Hamish Linklater’s Midnight Mass work tended toward scenery-chewing, but the reason the Mike Flanagan horror series works as well as it does is because Linklater elevated its operatic tone. Jon Bernthal is wildly overdue for some Emmy recognition, and We Own This City gives him opportunities for self-righteous monologues, wicked swagger and myriad facial hair variations. I’d probably round out the category with Ben Foster’s harrowing work in the made-for-TV movie The Survivor and the slithering moral ambiguity of Colin Firth’s work in The Staircase. — D.F.

BEST ACTRESS

The best of the many based-on-a-true-story performances in contention dig beyond surface-level mimicry to bring these fact-based characters to life from the inside out — like Amanda Seyfried’s unsettlingly hollow Elizabeth Holmes in The Dropout, Julia Garner’s slippery Anna Delvey in Inventing Anna or Michelle Pfeiffer’s luminous but complicated Betty Ford in the otherwise uninspiring The First Lady, to name just a few.

My personal favorite, though, involves no celebrity imitation whatsoever. Maid hinges on Margaret Qualley’s ability to make us feel for her, and she delivers with an open book of a performance that allows us to read every thought and emotion running through the character’s mind — even, or maybe especially, when she’s trying to maintain her composure in the face of tremendous hardship. — A.H.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

What makes Wyatt Russell’s work in Under the Banner of Heaven so unsettlingly creepy is that it’s not obviously creepy at all, at least not at first. With his athletic good looks and easy smile, he’s the very picture of all-American wholesomeness, albeit one with the intensity dialed up just a smidge too high. And even as his character proceeds along the dark path toward murder, he never completely loses that innate charisma — it’s there with him to the end, even after his piety has hardened into violent zealotry.

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It’s a dissonance echoed in another of my favorite turns this season. In The White Lotus, Jake Lacy subverts the nice-guy persona that’s defined much of his career by playing a character who only thinks he’s a nice guy, when in fact he’s the very picture of an entitled asshole. It’s what makes Shane so insufferable — and what makes Lacy’s performance as him so impressive. — A.H.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

In HBO’s The White Lotus, Jennifer Coolidge took everything we love about her normal flighty, boozy persona and said, “Here’s real anguish lurking under the surface.” It’s a career-redefining performance, and she should be nominated and win easily. You could fill out the rest of the category with Alexandra Daddario, Natasha Rothwell and Sydney Sweeney and just call it outstanding supporting actress in The White Lotus. I didn’t like Dopesick, The Offer or Gaslit, but each show was significantly better when Kaitlyn Dever, Juno Temple or Betty Gilpin was around. When it comes to scene-stealing, though, it’s hard to top Parker Posey and her cornpone Southern accent from The Staircase or Laurie Metcalf or LisaGay Hamilton from The Dropout. Among The Dropout, Hacks and The Conners, Metcalf had one of those years when she could deservedly get three nominations. — D.F.

This story first appeared in the June 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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After Driving Again And More, Britney Spears Shares Her Latest Taste Of Post-Conservatorship Freedom

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After Driving Again And More, Britney Spears Shares Her Latest Taste Of Post-Conservatorship Freedom

They say it’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary, and that’s likely particularly true if you’ve been denied access to those things for an extended period of time. After Britney Spears was released from the conservatorship she’d been under, the singer has been reintroducing herself to some of life’s simple pleasures. Last summer Spears was super pumped about regaining the freedom to drive, and in January the “Toxic” singer documented drinking her first glass of wine in over a decade. The newlywed continued to celebrate the post-conservatorship life by sharing her first trip to a bar.

Fans of the former pop singer are accustomed to seeing Britney Spears dancing and twirling and modeling different outfits at her and Sam Asghari’s new home. However, the “Toxic” singer took her followers on an exciting field trip, in which she and her assistant patronized a local drinking establishment. She shared her trip — and a sarcastic remark — on Instagram:

(Image credit: Instagram)

As she and her assistant Victoria Asher apparently enjoyed a drink and an app, Britney Spears couldn’t help but throw a little shade at her family, remarking that she was “so so grateful” for not being allowed to have a cocktail for the 13 years after her father Jamie Spears took control of her life. In fact, the 40-year-old said in her post this is her first time to partake in such an adventure. In the video, she shared:

This is my first time at a bar. First time. I feel so fancy, and I feel so sophisticated.

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How ‘Yellowjackets’ Stars Survived Hollywood

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How ‘Yellowjackets’ Stars Survived Hollywood

Sure, they may have eaten a person back in the day. But there are some things the grown women of Yellowjackets just wouldn’t do. On this, the actresses who play them — Tawny Cypress, Juliette Lewis, Melanie Lynskey and Christina Ricci — agree, as they gather in a backyard in L.A.’s Topanga Canyon in late July, just a few weeks before they start filming the second season of their breakout show.

The Showtime survival thriller, created and executive produced by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, earned seven Emmy nominations, including outstanding drama series and acting nominations for Lynskey and Ricci. The Yellowjackets storyline alternates between 1996 and the present day as it follows members of a high school girls soccer team whose plane crashes and strands them for 19 months in the wilderness, where they resort to cannibalism to survive.

Part of the show’s nostalgic appeal relies on its casting of these actresses, three of whom audiences knew as young women for their slyly offbeat roles in films like The Addams Family (Ricci), Cape Fear (Lewis) and Heavenly Creatures (Lynskey), to play the crash survivors as adults. In this conversation with THR, Cypress, Lewis, Lynskey and Ricci disclose their ’90s regrets, share what it means when you call an actress “quirky” and reveal how survival bonds women — including in the trenches of Hollywood.

Who here knew each other before the show?

MELANIE LYNSKEY (Points to Christina Ricci.) We knew each other a little bit. I went to a Nick Cave concert by myself, and Christina came up and —

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CHRISTINA RICCI I was very excited to see you.

LYNSKEY So excited. We were having a lovely chat, and then she’s like, “Are you here by yourself?” She’s the coolest person of all time, and I was intimidated. I just felt embarrassed to say, “I’ve come to a concert by myself.” I was like 24 or something.

RICCI I was impressed because I couldn’t go anywhere by myself.

LYNSKEY I also went to see Clay Aiken by myself because nobody would come with me.

It’s surprising that none of you had worked together over the years.

JULIETTE LEWIS It’s wild when you’ve been around so long, and you sort of have a kindred connection to people. There’s certain actors you’re like, “Mmm, we’re not of the same tree,” and then there’s other actors you’re like, “Oh, yeah. We have some roots.”

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Juliette, Melanie and Christina, all three of your Wikipedia entries say some version of, “Often plays quirky or offbeat characters.” What do those words mean to you?

LEWIS Real people, specific and unpredictable.

LYNSKEY I remember I got cast in a movie when I was like 21, and the description of the character before I auditioned was “Blah, blah, blah, the beautiful girl who sits next to him in school.” Then, at the table read, it had been changed to “Blah, blah, blah, cute and quirky.” I was like, “You don’t need to change it. Just keep it …” They’re like, “We better change this description or people will be like, wrong actress.” So, sometimes it feels … I don’t know. I never liked that word, “quirky.”

RICCI When you say that all of us had this description, that to me speaks to a past time, when, if you weren’t the leading-lady ingenue then you were quirky and offbeat. All right, so there’s two groups for actresses? In a way, I’m fine with being in the category I’m in because what it means to me is that I have made an effort in my career to do things that I feel like I haven’t seen before. So, in some ways, I like it. In other ways, I’m like, “Ugh.” It’s a little dismissive. A little cute and dismissive.

LEWIS We come from the ’90s where, when I had blond hair, I was the pretty airhead, and then I dyed my hair dark, and I was the wisecracking, sarcastic girl. But yeah, I think it’s really neat that we’ve all carved this path of range and specificity.

Isn’t another term for that “character actor”?

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RICCI But “character actress” used to be something they used to describe an ugly woman.

TAWNY CYPRESS Or Abe Vigoda.

RICCI Back in the late ’90s, my agents were always like, “We have to be so careful you don’t become a character actress. If we’re not careful, you’re going to end up just like Jennifer Jason Leigh.” I was like, “I like her.” They were so afraid of me not being a leading lady, of me not being sexually attractive to people. It was really the last thing I ever wanted, was for anyone to be attracted to me.

LEWIS My dad was a character actor. So to me, it was something that was super noble. It was a world of adventure and not limiting. I rebelled against the system, the PR system of being in some bizarre idea of beauty. I really revolted against that, for better or for worse. Crying in a bathroom at a photo shoot, like, “I won’t come out.” They want these doe-eyed looks. That’s for sure what I didn’t do in pictures, so I always looked slightly insane, which I prefer over, like, “Do you want to fuck me?”

Tawny, what was your sense of what the expectations were for you when you were starting out?

CYPRESS I’ve had a different row to hoe. I’ve spent my whole career doing shitty roles of the sassy one on the side. Honestly, growing up as an actor, I wanted to be an ingenue.

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LEWIS Isn’t that funny? And I wanted to be sassy and opinionated.

CYPRESS I couldn’t be an ingenue. I just couldn’t. It’s just not in me, you know? I was never presented with those roles, ever, and I was like, “Oh, OK. That’s not who I am.” I sort of, growing older, have embraced my Jersey side, and I am who I am, and this is what you get.

LYNSKEY I started calling myself a character actor in interviews when I was really young because I think it was reclaiming the term or something. I think I just was like, “That’s what I am.” My agents had all that kind of intensity around it, too. I remember when I did Coyote Ugly

RICCI Oh my God, you got a piece in that? I went up for that, and I didn’t get it.

CYPRESS I did too.

LYNSKEY I played the best friend from Jersey. But the scrutiny that was on Piper [Perabo], who’s one of the coolest, smartest women, just the way people were talking about her body, talking about her appearance, focusing on what she was eating. All the girls had this regimen they had to go on. It was ridiculous. I was already starving myself and as thin as I could possibly be for this body, and I was still a [size] four. That was already people putting a lot of Spanx on me in wardrobe fittings and being very disappointed when they saw me, the costume designer being like, “Nobody told me there would be girls like you.” 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.” Just the feedback was constantly like, “You’re not beautiful. You’re not beautiful.” In your early 20s, so much of it is about beauty, and how people respond to you, and do people want to fuck you? Do people think you’re their best friend? Even the best friend thing, I started to be like, “I don’t want to do that too many times.”

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Did you have to unlearn anything that people tried to teach you when you were starting out?

LEWIS I had developed such a survival mechanism to protect my autonomy, sort of, “You don’t own me. You don’t tell me my value. Only I do.” I was extremely self-critical — it still happens — of my work. It’s almost like a defense mechanism that no one could talk shit about me more than I can. There’s all these things that are wrapped up in how to survive a system. That’s what I’m unlearning today — to be softer. This is a really remarkable industry to be a part of. I feel honored to be a part of it and what it gave me, but I do still hold on to what it took from me in my youth.

Given what you all experienced coming into the industry, do you feel at all protective of the younger actresses who play the younger versions of your characters?

LYNSKEY (Begins to cry.) So much. I feel very protective. At the beginning of production, I sent them all an email, and I just was like, “Whatever you need, if you need a voice, if you need someone to go to the producers for you, whatever you need,” and they were kind of like, “Cool. Thanks.” They’re fine.

CYPRESS Totally fine. Jas [Jasmin Savoy Brown] was a boss on set. She’s like, “This is how we’re doing my hair. This is what we’re doing.”

RICCI They’re very much of a different generation.

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CYPRESS I am protective of Jas in the fact that she is so sexually positive, which I love. She has taught me so much, just knowing her as a person. But I’m like a mama bear to her, or a big sister. I’m like, “What are you putting online right now?” She’s like, “Whatever. Whatever. This is life, man. I love myself.” I’m protective, but I’m also in awe of her, you know?

LEWIS But there is a thing I always want to say to young people: Cultivate other interests deeply so that you’re not getting all your life’s blood from this industry, or your self-worth.

Is there anything you miss about the ’90s?

LYNSKEY I have a lot of love letters from the ’90s.

RICCI Someone used to fax me love letters when he was on tour. I did not save them. I throw everything out. I had a specific thing when I was a child, that we would be punished by the things that we loved being destroyed. My husband, who is a much healthier individual, has gone back and found all my old magazine covers on Etsy because he thinks it’s horrible that I never saved them. As a child, I learned that this is going to be taken from me, so why save it anyway?

LYNSKEY That’s heartbreaking. Well, I saved everything because I’m basically an emotional hoarder. I have this literal suitcase, an old-fashioned suitcase.

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RICCI This is very dark, but I would just like to go back to that age and do it over again and not make so many fucking mistakes. Honestly, I regret so much.

CYPRESS Me too. One thousand percent.

LEWIS Me too.

RICCI I’d like to go back to 1996 and be like, “All right … we had a practice run. It went OK, but it wasn’t really as great as we wanted it to be. We’re going to do this again.” People who are like, “I have no regrets.” What fucking magic life did you live?

LEWIS Where they go, “I don’t regret anything because that led up to this moment.” Really? The thing that could’ve put my dad in an early grave, I fucking regret it. Yes. I was very scary as a young teenage person.

CYPRESS Yeah. I hurt a lot of people growing up, and I wish that I didn’t. I was going through my memory box. It was my great-great-grandmother’s she brought over from Hungary. It’s huge, and it’s filled to the brim with everything from my life. I came across a note from high school. It was my first gay friend, and it broke my heart because he was like, “I want to thank you for not talking to me anymore and just cutting me off the way that you did. It made it hurt less.” I literally was crying, and I had to call him and be like, “I just came across this note, and I’m so sorry that I was that person to you.” When I think back, I think how wonderful our relationship was, but I was a shit, you know? I would definitely do so many things differently.

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LEWIS I’ve had those moments where I turned into … Because I’ve been bullied, but when I was 11 and got in a fight with a girl, I was mean [the same way] how a girl was mean to me. I was really vicious.

LYNSKEY I think people without regrets are narcissists. I think they’re lying to themselves.

RICCI Denial is the only way to get up that river.

What did you all feel when you learned that Roe v. Wade was overturned?

RICCI It’s really horrible to be told so plainly what your value is.

LEWIS I wish the two factions can talk, like, “Hey, what do you do with a bad situation, poverty and drug addiction, and rape?” You have to have an option that is salvageable or is sustainable for the survival of a person, a woman who’s living.

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CYPRESS I don’t really give a shit what your reason to have an abortion is. It’s your fucking body. I don’t really fucking care. You don’t want to be a mom, right? That’s your fucking decision. Look, we can put morals on it and say, “Well, only when you’re raped, or only if it’s …” It’s like no, dude. It’s either in or out. We’re either telling women what to do with their bodies or we let them have their own choice. I am of the mind, choice. I’m not going to judge you for making that decision.

LYNSKEY And there seems to be this general lack of compassion and empathy that’s just growing and growing. There’s so much hatred, and people are unable to look at another person’s life and go, “Oh, you know, that’s an untenable situation,” or even, “That’s a difficult situation.” There’s no grace given to anybody else. There’s no empathy. You don’t get to make decisions for somebody else. You don’t know what’s right for them.

Is there a place for TV and film in that conversation?

CYPRESS I mean, that’s what TV and film do. That’s what art is. On Yellowjackets, let’s talk about Shauna’s baby in the woods, you know? Yeah. I think we have a lot of room to speak on this subject, and I hope we do.

Did anybody have their kids on set for season one?

LYNSKEY (Points to Ricci.) We did.

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RICCI And I was pregnant. I didn’t tell anyone but these ladies that I was pregnant for six months. When we started, I was six weeks pregnant. It was difficult. There were so many times where I was like, “Ooh, when they find out I’m pregnant, and they made me sit in this smoky room all day. When they realize that they made me stand for eight hours, and I’m pregnant, and I have this horrible sciatica, and it’s 100 degrees, oh, they’re going to feel so bad.” They didn’t feel bad at all. But anyway, it was fine. In fact, it would’ve been helpful if I was playing a more emotional character because I can give a real good performance when I’m pregnant, real emo.

How would you finish the sentence, “Yellowjackets is really about …”?

CYPRESS Women. PTSD.

LYNSKEY Trauma.

CYPRESS Friendship.

RICCI Haunting, the way trauma haunts you. The way you can never escape. The way it twists people in different ways.

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LEWIS Aberrant survival tactics.

We know that these characters have done a bunch of aberrant things, as you say, including cannibalism. But do you have in your mind an idea that, “OK, she may have eaten another human being, but she would never do this“?

RICCI I know when they confront me because I’m like, “OK, she wouldn’t do that.” Misty wouldn’t drink that drink. Originally, in the script, she was drinking a Brandy Alexander, and I said, “No, Misty would drink a chocolate martini.” I have rules and stuff for her in my head, and they do conflict with the writers sometimes. I don’t think she actually is interested in men, at all. I think she does it because she’s bored, or because she thinks that’s what she’s supposed to do. Then, she’s also realized that she can have a lot of fun trying to trick them into having sex with her when they don’t want to. It’s like men will kind of know that you don’t want to have sex with them, but if they can get you to have sex with them, they won.

LEWIS It’s a power thing.

RICCI Misty’s way of doing it is through this really horrible manipulation, making him feel guilty and having sex with her while feeling guilty, which would be a terrible experience.

When you have a different perspective on your character than the writers, what do you do?

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RICCI That’s part of the thing with TV that I’ve learned now, being involved in a production but not being one of the EPs, so you aren’t a part of creating what people do. “OK, they wrote this scene. I have to play this scene. If she was in this situation, how the fuck would she be in this situation, and why would she be?” Then, you don’t have to tell other people what you come up with. They can find out about it later when you do press.

Does anybody else have a line in their mind that their character wouldn’t cross?

LYNSKEY I had one. There was something written into a script where I was going on a date with my lover, and they had me going into my daughter’s bedroom and taking her underwear, which was just not practical because I wouldn’t fit it. She’s little. But also, ew. I think there was something, apparently, somewhere, people liked the thing in the pilot where I’m masturbating in my daughter’s bedroom. I was like, “Can that just be an isolated incident? I don’t want it to be a theme.” So I just was like, “I don’t want to do that.” They were great about it.

LEWIS It comes, I think, with experience and respect, that they appreciate if you have a point of view. I have an “anything goes” stamp on me, which they all know. But I have strong ideas, especially about my trajectory in midlife. I’ve looked at Natural Born Killers recently, and I’m like, “Jesus.” Thank goodness I had a partner like Woody Harrelson, but it is so sexual. No one forced me into that. I was a young nihilist who didn’t give a fuck, and I felt comfortable with Woody, and I liked the material. But nowadays, I’m very particular. So, they had written a sex scene, and I was like, “I don’t know. I don’t know that she even gets off. I don’t know that she even can have orgasms.” That’s how deep I went. So it was more like, is she doing something to get something? At the end of the day, I just didn’t even think she fucks, sorry to be so graphic, at this juncture that you saw in season one. I think she might’ve had relationships with all of them in the wilderness. I don’t know if they’re going to write it, but that’s what I’d like to think of Natalie.

LYNSKEY That’s what I think too.

RICCI What? I never thought of that. Who would they be making out with? I guess each other.

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The finale hints that there may be additional Yellowjackets who survived into adulthood. Have actors been cast for those roles?

LEWIS Wait, Melanie, didn’t you say that on our chain, that someone we like is cast to be … (At this point there is meaningful eye contact among the four women.)

RICCI We don’t know for sure. That’s what we’ve heard was close to happening.

LYNSKEY We don’t know anything.

On season one, you were making this show under the radar. Now there’s so much fan speculation. Does that change the way you approach the work?

RICCI There’s more pressure going into season two.

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CYPRESS Have you guys also had that feeling of like, “Can I do this? Is it going to be good, the second season? Am I going to fuck this character up?”

LYNSKEY I have those fears.

RICCI Me too, but because TV is so fast, and you have so little time with the information, the process of talking about the show afterward helps you to evolve your take on your character. To understand things that were intended with the character that maybe weren’t clear originally because you get to hear the EPs talk about it. I’m going to make changes in the next season based on what I have come to realize through all this talking.

Like what?

RICCI Well, that’s a secret.

How much do you want to know about the path that your character is on?

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CYPRESS Fuck, I want to know everything. I sit there, and when I think about the show, I think, “What the fuck are they going to do with this character?” There’s so many different parts to her right now. The dog thing. She’s now a senator. There may be an old love coming back, you know? I’m like, “How are they going to do this?” I just want to know.

LYNSKEY Now you’re a full-time dog killer.

RICCI I didn’t even know that you were supposed to be the one that killed the dog.

CYPRESS What?

RICCI I thought, “Oh, well maybe somebody broke in.”

LYNSKEY That could still be, right?

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CYPRESS Wait, give me more to think about.

So you don’t go to the writers and say, “To be clear, did I kill the dog?”

CYPRESS Oh, we do. They just say, “Mmm.”

RICCI “We don’t know.”

CYPRESS But they do know.

RICCI I don’t think they’re trying to control us with no information or anything. Sometimes, they don’t want to commit to something that hasn’t been necessarily set in stone. I do find it frustrating to not know, and we’re never able to know fully. I have decided to learn how to function with knowing nothing.

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Interview edited for length and clarity.

This story first appeared in the Aug. 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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James Gunn Addresses Peacemaker Future Amid Batgirl Cancelation

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James Gunn Addresses Peacemaker Future Amid Batgirl Cancelation

Shockwaves from Warner Bros.’s cancelation of Batgirl have had many fans questioning the possibility of other DC-connected projects following suit. Amid outcries from fans of Batgirl, Michael Keaton, Brendan Fraser, and even Snyderverse fans who are always eager to picket Warner Bros., Peacemaker fans started asking James Gunn whether there was any possibility that his DC work was going to suffer amid the company’s cost-cutting exercise. Ironically, considering the history that led James Gunn to work with DCEU characters, it seems that the director and his shows are the only ones who are “safe.”

What seems like a lifetime ago, James Gunn was all set to start work on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 for Disney and Marvel Studios when some old Twitter posts led to him being unceremoniously sacked. By the time Disney backtracked on their firing, Gunn was already committed to directing The Suicide Squad for Warner Bros., which is why Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has taken so long to arrive. Now, during all the chaos at Warner Bros., it appears that Gunn is not worried at all about the second season of Peacemaker getting the ax. When asked if the show was safe, Gunn simply replied:

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“Yes, guys, calm down.”

That is a relief for fans of the small sub-universe Gunn is building inside the DCEU, which along with The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker, is set to include at least another unannounced project and be linked to the Amanda Waller series that is in development. At least that side of the franchise doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.


Related: Peacemaker: Will More Suicide Squad Members Appear in Season 2?

Is Warner Bros. Still Planning on Rebooting The DCEU?

There have been rumors of a “soft-reboot” coming to the DCEU for a long time, and while it seems at times like Warner Bros. is heading in that direction, they have constantly denied any such intention. During San Diego Comic-Con, the entire focus of the Warner Bros. live-action DC panel was on Black Adam and Shazam! Fury of the Gods. Both of these movies have their small links to the wider DCEU, and once again, Warner Bros. seemed to be causing confusion by including a Justice League montage within the Shazam sequel while at the same time professing that they are not revisiting that particular DCEU set up in any way.

One thing clear from Dwayne Johnson’s appearance at SDCC is that he believes that Black Adam is setting the tone for a new DCEU, and based on everything else that is happening, he could be right. While there is no way of telling exactly where the franchise will be heading beyond The Flash in 2023, with new additional entries like Wonder Woman 3 constantly being stuck in limbo, it has been made clear that some big changes are being made in regards to the DCEU and fans will be hoping that those changes bring some kind of consistency to the franchise before it ends up crashing down around itself.

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