‘The Last Of Us’ Writers Explain Kathleen’s Character And Share What Made Melanie Lynskey Perfect For The Role

The Last Of Us is dominating in its inaugural season. Not only is the series acquiring a massive fanbase, but it also did something that not many can do: make Nick Offerman look like a big old softie and make Melanie Lynskey seem like a mean girl. These are two things we are not used to seeing!

Lynskey made her highly-anticipated guest appearance in episode four, and viewers were surprised to learn that she wasn’t playing her usual soft-spoken characters. In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Lynskey says she was hesitant to take on such a darker role. “[Craig Mazin] said to me, ‘I hope you’re not offended, but I would love for you to play a war criminal.’ I said, ‘Ugh, I don’t know,'” Lynskey recalled.

The Yellowjackets star did take on the role of Kathleen, the tough war criminal whose brother was leading the resistance movement before his death. While speaking on The Last Of Us podcast, Mazin and developer Neil Druckmann said that they needed Kathleen’s character to balance out Joel and Ellie. As Mazin explained, via Collider:

Humanity will probably not descend into a Mad Max-style culture in a post-apocalyptic world where 80 people just love killing. It’s not what happens. What happens instead is we’re 80 people who love each other as family, friends and neighbors and that means we must protect ourselves at any cost, and anyone who gets in our way must be taken out. Joel was once one of those people. That’s how he knows the guy asking for help isn’t hurt, and they’re being conned. It was important for us to put a face on these people, so we have this character in Kathleen who we understand is suffering when we meet her. Even though she has the gun in her hand, she is suffering. We have this revolutionary who quietly becomes a terror and does horrible things in service of this, but is still someone we empathize with.

And thus, Kathleen’s character was created. Mazin added that Lynskey was the first person they thought of for the role, which is when Lynskey was approached.

Lynskey (Via Collider and told EW that the character is supposed to show off the complex layers of flawed people. “I wanted her to be kind of gentle. I wanted her to be soft-spoken and delicate in the way she looked around. I wanted her to feel like a sweet person, and then to have a surprising capacity for violence,” the actress explained. “I thought the difference between how she carries herself and how she speaks and the things she’s doing would be interesting.”

Despite the darker character arch, Lynskey says she enjoyed the stint. When asked if it was fun to play a villain after all these years of good guys, the actress replied, “It is really fun. I would do something horrible, like one time I did some scene where [Kathleen] was like, ‘Kids die every day’ or something like that. I was like, ‘It’s just my vendetta.’ Craig and I would always say ‘my vendetta’ with a New Zealand accent.” Things do, historically, sound less horrible in a New Zealand accent.

(Via Collider and EW)