Melanie Lynskey is one of those “indie darlings” who just can’t say no to a low-paying gig. That’s overstating the case a tad, but the actress — who has a slew of low-budget and cult fave films on her résumé — is known for taking on quirky characters.
Her latest lovable oddball is in the new Netflix film “I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore,” an intriguing crime thriller and dark comedy premiering Feb. 24. Lynskey plays Ruth, a lonely, overlooked woman who is sick of all the entitled people in this world — the ones who cut in front of you on line at the supermarket, or let their dogs poop on your lawn. When Ruth is burglarized, and her grandmother’s silver stolen, she decides to take a stand, tracking down the thieves with help from her kooky neighbor Tony (Elijah Wood). Needless to say, they’re quickly in over their heads.
Lynskey, 39, hails from New Plymouth, New Zealand, and made her feature film debut at 16 in the hit 1994 New Zealand film “Heavenly Creatures.” More recently, she’s starred in HBO’s “Togetherness,” and played Charlie Sheen’s stalker on CBS’ “Two and a Half Men.”
Can you hear me?
Yes. I have you on speakerphone for a moment while I’m “packing” my “cahhh.”
Packing your . . . car? Are you going on a trip?
What? Oh, sorry — “parrrking.” (She drops her Kiwi accent to pronounce the rrr’s.)
Ohhh, you’re PARKING your car. Guess we had a bit of a New Zealand moment there.
Yeah, exactly. (She laughs, and the word comes out sounding more like egg-zeckly.)
First off, hurray for Ruth — standing up to all those obnoxious, entitled people out there. And their numbers are growing.
I know, it’s astonishing to me how people behave with strangers. They’ll be rude and aggressive because they think there aren’t going to be consequences. That happens a lot.
Have you ever been burglarized like Ruth?
I have. When my ex-husband and I were together, kids broke into our basement. It wasn’t a big deal . . . but they took his video games. I felt unsettled but he got . . . kind of crazy. He wanted justice, and wanted to know who’d done it. You feel violated.
Did they catch the thieves?
Clearly, you needed Elijah Wood as your sidekick.
Yeah, It’s interesting — we have a unique chemistry. There’s something we, like, ignite in each other. It isn’t sexual, and it’s not like brother and sister, but it’s this weird familiarity we have. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly it is. We met through (“Lord of the Rings” and “Heavenly Creatures” director) Peter Jackson, who came to town and got friends together to go on the (Universal Studios) King Kong ride before it opened. (She chuckles.) That’s where I met Elijah.
Well, he certainly knows New Zealand, having shot all those “Rings” movies there.
Yes. We could talk about our favorite coffee shops in Wellington. There aren’t a lot of people who know about New Zealand.
I have friends from Long Island who now live in Dunedin, on the South Island — they’re always saying “Coooome, coooome.”
Ohhh, Dunedin’s gorgeous. You should — you should go someday. It’s funny — Australia has more of a public presence, so people assume we’re the same as them. But it’s like saying, “I’ve been to Texas, so I know what Canada must be like.” Somebody wrote me on Twitter recently saying, “I’m sorry Donald Trump was so rude to your prime minister.” And I replied, “You mean the Australian prime minister?” And he wrote back, “Oh, I guess New Zealand’s not really the same as Australia.” I was like, nope, we’ve got different governments and everything. New Zealand is . . . very quirky.
What do you miss most about it?
The air is different. I dunno . . . You get off the plane, and I suddenly feel, like, “Oh, now I’m home.” And the cheese. (She laughs.) The cheese and fruit — everyday groceries are amazing. And my family, of course.
Well, of course. What’s coming up next for you?
I did three episodes of this new Netflix comedy called “Girlboss,” coming out in April. It’s based on a book by Sophia Amoruso, about running her online vintage clothing company. I play a vintage collector — and an absolute purist! It was soooo fun. I also did a tiny, tiny part in [Netflix’s] “Wet Hot American Summer: 10 Years Later,” which, for me, is like “Star Wars.”
I don’t follow.
You read about people who get cast in “Star Wars” and they’re like, “I can’t believe I’m part of this world I’ve loved my whole life.” That’s how much I love “Wet Hot American Summer.” It’s like, ohmygod, all these characters, and — look — I’m here with them.