Melanie Lynskey's latest film, "Hello I Must Be Going," centers on an affair between her adult divorcee character and the 19-year-old son of one of her dad's clients. Touchy material, to be sure, but Lynskey is proud that the relationship is presented as "not creepy." A native of New Zealand who's been making a career in the U.S. for more than a decade, Lynskey admits she worries about losing her roots.
It's always fun to see a movie with a flawed protagonist. Was that part of the appeal?
I just loved that the character was such a mess in the beginning, and I loved how patient the movie was with that. It really just settled into the depression of it. She's not trying to help herself. She's depressed and she's not trying to do anything about it. She's annoying, she's sitting around in a dirty old T-shirt. She would drive me crazy if she was staying with me. I'd be like, "Get the f--- out, get your s--- together."
How have other people's reactions been?
Most people are like, "I expected to think it was really creepy, and then I didn't really think about it." So that's been nice. A couple of times there's been a weird reaction from older men who are like, "Well, what would he ever see in her? That seems very implausible." And I'm like, "All right, whatever." It's a very insulting thing to say, but I feel like it says more about them than it does about me.
There's a great lesson for your character in this about learning how to be loved.
My therapist said to me at one point, if you're not sort of working on yourself and getting past whatever your damage is from your past, your unconscious does all the work for you and makes your romantic choices for you.
How often are people surprised to learn you’re not American?
A lot. People are often surprised. It’s so funny because whenever I go back to New Zealand, they tell me that I talk like an American, and people are very offended about my accent and get all sort of like, “Well, you’ve lost your accent and you’re not a real New Zealander.” So I feel like I don’t exist anywhere. I’m betraying New Zealanders because I have hard R’s now.