7.9.3 Wellington (NZ) Evening Post, March 10, 1997

In Two Minds About Parker
By Mike Houlahan

Wellington (NZ) Evening Post, March 10, 1997

Melanie Lynskey is in two minds about knowing the reaction of Pauline Parker, the woman she portrayed in the film Heavenly Creatures, to her performance.

Parker and her co-offender Juliet Hulme disappeared after the jail sentences they served for the murder of Parker's mother in 1954, but both have recently been traced to Britain.

Lynskey said she felt the media had invaded Parker's privacy, but admitted to having her curiosity piqued by news the woman she portrayed had been located.

"There's a lot of responsibility when you play someone who actually exists. I would like to know if I did do it right, but on the other hand I wouldn't."

With the rise to screen fame of Kate Winslet, who played Hulme in the film, people have tended to forget there were two leads in Heavenly Creatures.

Winslet has gone on to become a star with appearances in films such as Sense and Sensibility. Lynskey, winner of the 1995 New Zealand Film and Television Award's Best Actress Award, has had a much quieter time of it.

She started at Victoria University in 1995 and had a role in director Peter Jackson's next film, The Frighteners.

Lynskey then took 1996 off to travel and audition in England and the United States.

Despite receiving plenty of encouragement and making many contacts, breaking into the competitive international movie industry proved tough work.

Though Heavenly Creatures has delivered them to dramatically different places, there appears to be no jealousy from Lynskey towards Winslet.

"I can't feel anything but happiness for Kate," Lynskey said.

"She's great, and probably one of the warmest, most genuine people I have ever met. I feel nothing but pride, she deserves everything."

Starring in Heavenly Creatures changed her life, Lynskey said.

"I'd always dreamed of being an actor.

"The first time I went to see a play, I knew I didn't really want to do anything else. Heavenly Creatures was a fantastic opportunity for me to do what I want to do."

Lynskey has agents overseas and still harbours ambitions to break into film or television, but for now she is throwing herself into study - she is taking English and Drama courses at Victoria this year - and acting.

A member of the University Drama Club, she has a lead role in its contribution to the Fringe Festival, a production of Jean Genet's The Maids.

"She's a schizophrenic character," Lynskey says of the role.

"Normally she's very reserved, but she also has these intense moments where she goes a bit crazy and feels such extraordinary emotion.

"It's quite intense."

The Maids, by Jean Genet. Directed by Daniel Pritchard and Emma Willis. Bats Theatre, Kent Tce. March 9-15, 6pm. $16.50/$12.

Wellington, NZ

March 10, 1997