NEW ORLEANS — Recently, Juliette Lewis has been thinking about being invincible. Of course not – witness the soft knee pads surrounding his right, faux leather-clad leg. coming out of a tough shoot for breakout Showtime psychological thriller “Yellow jackets” amid the Covid lockdown in Canada, Lewis made a head start on a sunny getaway and immediately overdid it physically. He tore his ACL and meniscus are common injuries in athletes, but in his case, it stems from years spent with the rock band doing exuberant stage dives and high kicks. Juliette and Licks.
Invincibility was one of his theme promises. Poet Babies, a family member who works as a resident artist here at the Ace Hotel; writes poems on the spot. “Too much vitality and enthusiasm,” she told him, explaining why he was now limping in New Orleans, where he was shooting the remake of “Queer as Folk.”
“And then there isn’t enough stretching. Although that doesn’t sound very good.” He laughed and wrote his poem.
Lewis is 48 years old and has been working since he was a teenager, making his mark in movies like “Cape Fear” and “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” “I find myself in middle age, where I can step into a void and know my worth,” she said. Still, its boundaries needed fine-tuning. “Lately, I was like life-work balance? This is a great concept. I didn’t even know it had a name. I thought it was like, work your ass until it hits and burns and then take a break to heal your body and mind.”
However, he added that he did not complain about the work. “This industry fed me. There is no other place for me as a little fantasy freak fairy.”
These “Yellow Jackets” partly added an additional dimension to the show in the ’90s, the decade Lewis rose to prominence in Hollywood, at a time when culture was starting to get honest about how (bad) women were being treated. The mechanics of fame and the limits imposed on young women – “If you have brown hair, you are a sullen, sarcastic teenager. If you’ve got blonde hair, you’re cool, you’re a pretty girl,” as Lewis said—he almost fired her. (She was saved by Martin Scorsese, who played “Cape Fear”). But now, in her 40s, what was the expectation of young people at the time and she found a role that intelligently questioned how they should recover as adults.
“Yellowjackets” executive producer Karyn Kusama, with her cast including Christina Ricci and Melanie Lynskey, didn’t want to hold back the ’90s rearview mirror, but when it did, it caught the attention of the audience. “We felt we somehow had their image” He said of his star’s early days: “It wasn’t ours, we didn’t have anything to do with it. Maybe that’s what drove us crazy as a culture – we could never have them the way we wanted.”
This may be especially true for Lewis, who resists classification. “A director always wants someone who can go overboard, maybe even in one scene – he checked every box to do it,” said filmmaker Tate Taylor, who played him in the 2019 horror movie “Ma.” “She can scare [expletive] He comes out of you at the beginning of the scene and you think you’re going to be killed, and in the end he breaks your heart.”
“The way she wears brittleness is unlike anyone I’ve ever seen as an actress,” she added. “You feel like a voyeur by observing your vulnerability.” She said she wanted him for her Oscar-nominated period piece “The Help” in 2011, but was busy touring Europe with her women’s group.
As an actor, Lewis has had his fair share of undefeated moments too: teenage characters who change their teenage bravado until things often go brutally wrong. In “Yellowjackets,” where her character, Natalie, a high school football star, survives a plane crash in a remote wilderness with some of her teammates, she is now digging that area from the other side. The show oscillates between the violent aftermath of the accident that followed teenagers in flashbacks to the ’90s and the present as Lewis and lead actors Ricci, Lynskey and Tawny Cypress resolve trauma as adults. (Sophie Thatcher plays Natalie as a teenager.)
“Natalie, I think it’s written as toxic power,” Lewis said. “But around girls he gets totally caught up where it goes to weakness and consolation, and it’s so weird where it ends. I didn’t see it coming.”
In long, late-night conversations, the lead actors in their 40s talked about the sexist power dynamics of the ’90s.
“We were all sharing horror stories from that era – sexism, misogyny,” said Lynskey, 44, who debuted with “Heavenly Creatures” in 1994.
“When we all started, I think we sold this story about ‘You have until you’re 40’,” he added. “I haven’t seen too many older women with amazing careers.” Flow changed that to some extent, but Lynskey said, “It takes a lot of perseverance to keep following and believe you don’t have limited time.”
Lewis earned an Oscar nomination at age 19. holding the screen He co-starred opposite Robert De Niro in “Cape Fear,” followed by a genre-breaking performance as a savage killer in Oliver Stone’s “Natural Born Killers.” “It turned into a cute costume for Halloween,” she said. “Every Halloween, people on social media send me ‘Natural Born Killer’ pictures.”
We sat on the hotel roof deck, sipping coffee, on a round bed so he could better stretch his injured leg. He took off his worn-out sneakers and showed his toes like the dancer he had grown up with as a child. Lewis’ words pour out in an ever-changing fashion, accompanied by bursts of kinetic energy. She fidgeted, yawned, and sprained her limbs like a pretzel as she told anecdotes about Stone. “It will wake you up like an army sergeant,” he said. “I’ve seen him insult men as well as women.” She noted that when she slapped her nudity in her face in a sex scene and said it was unnecessary, she accepted her offer to cover it up.
On sets, she had no problem voicing her creative needs, but as a teenager, “I wasn’t easy,” she said. Nick Nolte and Jessica Lange, who played her parents on “Cape Fear,” offered to take her to an amusement park as a “family” bond. Stubborn, he refused. “Now I, you [expletive]. why did you miss the opportunity [expletive] Hanging out with Nick Nolte and Jessica Lange? You know-it-all teenager.” Her romance with Brad Pitt, whom she met in the movie of the week, coincided with their coming out of anonymity. “You both are removing all your insecurities,” she said.
He grew up around Los Angeles; his father was usually a character actor in Western movies. “Sometimes we had money, sometimes we didn’t,” he said. Instead of the babysitter, she’d drop him off at the makeup van. Their parents divided their children and – each had more than any other relationship – in a rather bohemian fashion; Her mother, a graphic and fine artist, was the kind of parent who rubbed baking soda on her daughter to avoid fluoride. “My parents raised this rebel, so they cultivated the individual spirit.” (They studied Scientology, and Lewis did too, but he doesn’t describe himself that way. “I’m a spiritualist,” he said.)
By the time Lewis was 14, he had a manager and started booking sitcoms. He was a floundering student. “Finding this purpose of storytelling and oh, if you’re living in your dream, there’s a place for it—it actually kept me out of trouble,” she said.
This came later, in his early 20s, when demands for fame caught up with him, contradicting the image that was expected of him. “I loved trying to do things on my own terms,” he said. “I wore meet a swap headdress I got it for $15 at the Golden Globes in the Valley. But there were times when I cried in the bathroom from the pressure during the photo shoot.” He developed a drug addiction. “It was tough. I had a blast,” he said. At the age of 22, he took a break for two years and remained sober. He said the pause hurt his career trajectory.
But in her 30s, she stepped away from acting again to focus on Juliette and Licks. He was an undercover songwriter and vocalist. “When I was 30, I said, ah, you didn’t do that thing you loved so much. You are 30 years old. What are you doing?” He spent nearly six years touring in a worn-out fashion.
“Juliette is on fire, on fire, determined to be a rock star,” said Linda Perry (4 Non Blondes, Pink’s “Get the Party Started”), who made Lewis’ debut EP. “She wasn’t an actress who was a singer. He was a rock star stepping into the position he deserved.”
When the group first disbanded ten years ago, his screen career took off. The cast and directors seem to admire his ability to create unpredictability, especially in the grinding business of ensemble TV production.
“It’s like a live wire when it works,” said Kusama, who directed the first episode of “Yellowjackets.” “He’s one of the most instinctive and instinctive actors I’ve ever worked with. I learned pretty fast in the pilot, I would never get the same thing twice.”
Lynskey remembered a scene late in the season. He said his characters “have this type of irreconcilable relationship, a lot of sniping back and forth.” But in one shoot, she said, “I made this choice to look at her and see if she’s okay, and the moment I looked at her, she burst into tears. That’s how ready and always on the brink of emotion.”
In “Yellow Jackets,” Natalie struggles with addiction and other issues. “I didn’t want Natalie to be as dark as she was, but that wasn’t my decision—that’s what the writers are,” Lewis said. When I asked him why he was so good at playing with people with traumatic histories or violent tendencies, he got a little harsh. She likes to point out that she did something after “Killers.” Nora Ephron holiday comedy With Steve Martin. It just didn’t get that popular.
“Staying in a place of constant pain and apathy – to me, it’s exhausting,” Lewis said. He also needs muffled energy. When Taylor hosted a dance party at her home in Mississippi during the filming of “Ma,” Lewis got so excited during the hip-hop staple “Jump” that it got the crowd jumping at once. “There were 45 of us there,” Taylor said. “A painting and a statue fell from the wall.” The construction team had to reinforce the site. “The house was built in 1830 – Juliette Lewis music room I’m dancing,” she said with a laugh.
There is no invincibility. But after a career of nearly 35 years, Lewis knows what’s left standing. “I think what you learn over time is that you have the ability to regenerate if you put your heart and mind into it,” he said. “You have to practice discipline and get out of your own way.”