When New Zealand actress, Simone Kessell, was announced to play adult Lottie in season two of Paramount+ Yellowjackets, fans across the world applauded the casting.
Given the success of the first season, questions were raised about not only the back-story of the teen “cult leader”, but how she would look two decades after the plane crash that stranded the team of soccer players in the wilderness.
And for Kessell, who more recently starred in Disney+‘ Obi-Wan Kenobi, being cast for the series’ second outing came with high expectations.
Speaking with Mediaweek, the star admitted that she was “nervous” to take on such a “daunting” role.
“There was all this buildup of who was going to play adult Lottie and thank goodness I wasn’t ready privy to it,” she admitted before adding that she had been away filming and hadn’t even seen the show.
“It was so daunting. Stepping into a successful show that’s come off the back of seven Emmy nominations, with such an extraordinary adult cast as well, I was actually nervous.”
“I’d come off the back of doing Obi Wan Kenobi which I had had lovely feedback from but coming into a show that is established and has a huge fan base and the character has already been created, that’s something that’s never happened to me.”
Kessell joined an all-star cast including Christina Ricci
The cast she is referring to is, by all accounts, all-star. While the teens who play their younger counterparts are talented in their own right, Kessell was joining the likes of Christina Ricci (Wednesday) as adult Misty, Juliette Lewis (Hysterical Blindness) as adult Natalie, Melanie Lynskey (Candy) as adult Shauna and Tawny Cypress (Brooklyn’s Finest) as adult Taissa.
“They were so great,” she said. “They were very, very proud of their work and of the show because it was so well received worldwide. They were coming in buzzing.”
Not only that, but Kessell and Lynskey had already met several times prior, which made the experience all the more sweeter.
“We ran in the same circles,” she said. “There’s not many of us working actresses in their 40s. And both of us growing up in New Zealand, we knew of each other’s work and our paths kept crossing and we have mutual friends.”
As for the show’s younger cast, teen Lottie is portrayed by Australian actor Courtney Eaton (Mad Max: Fury Road) and stars alongside teen Shauna, who is played by Sophie Nélisse (The Book Thief) — two actresses which blew Kesell’s mind.
“The stuff they get to do and do especially as the season progresses, they’re wonderful. I’m pretty blown away with the level of talent from the young cast. They’re all in their mid 20s, and they’re working actresses. I can’t imagine filming the way that they work. They get the short straw, that’s for sure!”
Yellowjackets season two will answer unanswered questions from season one
Perhaps one of Kessell’s biggest roles on the show is finally giving Lottie — or Charlotte, as she likes to be known in season two — a full backstory.
“We’ll get to see what happened between the day they got rescued, to present day,” the Our Flag Means Death star teased. “It’s often told through the other characters and flashbacks. But it really focuses on what’s going on for her now.”
“Their pasts, obviously, are so integral to who they are as present day characters, where they’re kind of inter-woven. But yes, you’ll definitely get to see what happened.”
Another question from the first instalment was whether the teens were indeed experiencing something supernatural, or whether they were hallucinating from malnourishment — with Lottie leading the charge.
Kessell shed some light on what was going to happen.
“She has a sense and understanding that often others don’t,” she said. “She can’t see things, but she can sense things.”
Season two of Yellowjackets premieres on March 24 only on Paramount+.