A version of this story about Juliette Lewis and “Yellowjackets” was first published in TheWrap Awards magazine’s Drama Series issue.
Every time Juliette Lewis finishes a project, she remembers Dorothy waking up from her dream in “The Wizard of Oz.” and trying to explain the profound experience he just went through. “You have this magical trip. I always think, ‘And the Tin Man was there and Toto and the lion!’” Lewis said, paraphrasing Dorothy. Waking up from his “Yellowjackets” dream at the end of Season 2 was particularly emotional. “The crew, our AD department, that cast, you could be crying about it,” she said. (Spoilers ahead!)
For two seasons on Showtime’s addictive thriller, Lewis’ Natalie Scatorccio wore her trauma on her sleeve, dealing with survivor’s guilt and memories of the horror she and her soccer teammates experienced as teenagers stranded in the wild. In the season finale, Natalie’s grief comes to an end when survivor Misty (Christina Ricci) accidentally stabs her with a fatal dose of phenobarbital. “I don’t think she’s ever done a death scene before,” Lewis said. “It was so deeply moving, where she landed and filming that scene.”
In Season 1, your story arc was intertwined with that of Christina Ricci. This season, you spent a lot of time with Simone Kessell. [adult Lottie] in your wellness complex. Natalie’s anger and sarcasm are in stark contrast to Lottie’s sincere calm. How did you find that energy with Simone?
Well, first of all, I express my undying appreciation to this casting department and the producers and creators of the show. Every cast member they bring on board is one of us, a friend in the future. Simone and I would make each other laugh, like two girls in high school, off camera, talking about boys or hormones or whatever. [Laughs] So she kept me light. We had a wonderful time working together, even though we were adversaries.
Natalie resolves some of her grief by working with Lottie. Of all the characters who could have embraced, shall we say, Lottie’s cult welfare, I wouldn’t have guessed Natalie.
But Natalie is on board! She says: “Okay, well, when you’re in Rome!” bart [Nickerson] and ashley [Lyle], the creators, at the beginning, when they were telling me where Natalie would land, they were like, when you sign up for a silent retreat, which I’ve never been to, or a wellness place, and at first you’re like, “I don’t know what is happening here. This is a bit too much. And then the longer you stay, the more you become part of the fabric and get into it. So they laid the environmental foundations. [for me] that the longer Natalie stayed, the more he would touch her and break her superficial armor.
Yes, she even happily walks around in head-to-toe purple and wears Birkenstocks with socks.
I hope she has arrived because she is non-verbal. [about her deepest emotions]. She wanted to show that Natalie became the soft me of her. I don’t know how long she would have been comfortable with, but he liked her. She liked to be clean. She liked to be comfortable. She gave up her eyeliner, which was her war paint.
What was it like filming the night scenes where all the survivors gather around the bonfire in Lottie’s compound?
Like shooting scenes with your favorite people, complete with side jokes and deadpan humor. [Laughs] We’re all older so doing night sessions as a senior is a lot different than when you’re 22! We did? Tawny [Cypress] brought “Trivial Pursuit” from the 80’s that the prop department put together for us. So behind the scenes we would be playing “Trivial Pursuit”. And then as the night went on, I got really comical and goofy. We joke that I turn into a 14-year-old boy. jokes like [lowers voice]“That’s what she said.” You know, really dumb. It’s probably from being in a band for six years. [Laughs]
I spoke to Melanie Lynskey last year and she said she loved working with you and likened it to working with a box of fireworks because you never knew what you would do in a scene.
I have to put that on an embroidered pillow! It’s probably the cutest compliment I’ve ever heard. I like that. This was encouraged early on by Mr. Scorsese and Oliver Stone. The only way I know of to keep it alive is to find a new way to express the same thing. So I’m always looking for specificity but also something you’ve never seen. But it is not intellectual. This is how I work: chasing fireflies and trying to set them free.
Natalie’s death scene is quite magnificent, cutting between the actual Natalie succumbing at the stake and her vision. of herself on a plane, where she is joined by her teenage self [played by Sophie Thatcher]. What was it like filming that?
with karyn [Kusama]director [of that episode], we have both been touched by people who leave us the ones we love; that touched me that month. And we wanted to honor the spirit of leaving, where it’s letting go in a positive sense rather than resistance and shock.
And wow, to be on that plane. I mean, those days I was in orbit. What was going on behind the scenes, with the loss of two significant people in my life, and then being in those spaces was… I’m not on autopilot. So I have to work with everything. [I’m feeling from my own life] and then release it in waves. When Sophie sat next to me and we all knew we were saying goodbye, there was a lot of feeling. And I love her. We are very comfortable with each other. She could be a little sister to me. So yeah, that was special.