Yellowjackets‘ Sophie Nélisse: ‘I Want to See These Girls Go Dark and Crazy’
The actor breaks down beating up her co-star, crying after first reading the birthing episode, and her hopes for Shauna as the season hurdles toward the finale.EntertainmentTV
This interview contains spoilers for Yellowjackets Season 2.
Yellowjackets star Sophie Nélisse is ready for Shauna to go “full-on dark and psycho.” She delivered several different versions of this sentiment via a recent phone interview with Jezebel as if it’s a secret admission, and yet anyone currently watching the Showtime series has likely thought Nélisse’s character hit full-on dark and psycho at least a few episodes ago—more specifically when she popped her dead best friend’s ear into her mouth like a chip.
It’s been an…exciting season for Shauna. The premiere of Season 2 found our favorite chaos queen pregnant and spending some quality time with her best friend, Jackie’s (Ella Purnell) frozen corpse—well past the three stages of rigor mortis. And as if that imagery wasn’t unhinged enough, Shauna only devolved further into a starved psychosis with every episode. From chowing down on Jackie to giving birth to pulverizing cult-leader-in-training, Lottie [Courtney Eaton], Nélisse has been tasked with some of the most challenging scenes of the series thus far—all of which she’s played with aplomb.
According to her, however, Shauna might just be getting started—a prospect that’s extremely tantalizing to the 23-year-old actress. Here she discusses with Jezebel Episode 8’s hunting scene, trying to accurate portraying giving birth as someone who never has, and what may be to come in the season finale.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What were your first impressions of Season 2 when you read the script?
I had a lot of expectations anticipating this season. I knew we were gonna start tapping into cannibalism but I was quite surprised to see it happen so early on in the season. I was also quite shocked at the whole reveal of it being Shauna who was the first one to commit to eating Jackie. I thought I was going to be peer pressured into doing it. It’s a whole new twisted, conflicting side of the character.
I think the stakes are so much higher this season. The relationships get more complicated. I was very excited to see how we were going to slowly tap into hunting each other down, and the whole trajectory of the characters in terms of how we mentally transform to get to that point of committing to killing each other I thought was so interesting and well-written. I find that we’re always kind of left on like, cliffhangers, and every time I’m done reading an episode, we [the cast] would all start texting each other in the group chat and be really excited for every single one of them.
It’s been one hell of a hard season for Shauna. You’ve been pregnant; you’ve hallucinated; you’ve eaten your best friend; you’ve given birth; you’ve beaten the hell out of a cult leader….what was the most fun to shoot? The most challenging?
I think the most fun was beating Courtney [Eaton] up because we’re best friends in real life. But I think just like, the fun sequences, like the first time we see these women being very physical and tapping into their feral, darker madness. Women beating each other up is not something you often get to see on screen, so I felt very privileged to be able to let that out.
Then, I would say the hardest one was the birthing episode because of how sensitive the subject is. I was really nervous going into it because I’ve never given birth—obviously—before. I remember after the table read, everyone had left and I looked up from my script and just started sobbing. I did a lot of research going into it and talked to a lot of women in my life that have gone through pregnancies and given birth. Every single one of them is so unique and so particular—some go really well, some are really bad, and I just tried to channel all those different experiences. I think it’s so well written that you really go through that roller coaster of emotions. It’s also deeply solitary and sad, unfortunately, so it was a bit challenging emotionally. There was constant communication on set with the director. I was always asking about the physicality of it. “How long are the screams?” “How long do the contractions last?” “What’s the level of exhaustion at that point?”
In this latest episode, we’re seeing the survivors hunt each other for the first time. In quite the twist, Natalie is actually the first chosen to be killed. What was this bonkers episode like to film?
I love that episode because it circles back to the episode in the first season where we’re all hunting Travis down while on a trip. It’s such a full-circle moment but it’s scarier now because we’re actually doing it without being high. We’re knowingly doing it now. It’s weird because even though they’ve completely lost it by this point, we still somehow care for those girls. Like, when they watch Javi die, you’re not like “oh, I hate them, how could they?” You sympathize. It brings up so many questions for the audience watching, like, “Well, what would I do in that kind of situation?”
This is also the first time the audience learns that the playing cards are a tool for choosing the next person to hunt. Can you shed some light on whose idea this was? How’d we get there so quickly?
The transition is very quick. We just suddenly decide that we’re going to commit to it and I think the only way that we can—I mean there’s no logical explanation behind it because no one deserves to die—is to choose the cards ourselves and rely on faith and that higher power. I mean, it’s heartbreaking. It’s kind of like Russian Roulette. But we’re at the point where it’s either one of us dies, or we all die. So, realistically, it makes more sense to have one person die.
We’re ramping up to a season finale here, and honestly, I don’t how things could get more insane, but what can you tease?
I have no idea. I wish I could tease. I wish I knew more. The writers don’t give us anything. We are as much in the dark as the audience is in terms of the season finale. What I’m assuming is that we’re going to go full-on feral, animalistic, and completely disconnected from reality, from our moral values, from what’s right or wrong. We’re literally surviving on primal instincts. I want to see these girls go dark and crazy, and I think Shauna has nothing to lose anymore. She doesn’t have her best friend, she doesn’t have her baby…I think she’s going to go full-on dark and psycho.
For Shauna, I want to see her ice cold. I don’t want her to have any empathy or remorse, and to let that dark side of her shine. I think when we see her when she’s older, she thinks that she’s undeserving of love and that she’s a profoundly bad person and we need to see her do this really bad thing in order to understand where all of that stems from. So, I’m hoping that she’s going to kill people with her bare hands.