A group effort. Lauren Ambrose and Liv Hewson offered a glimpse at their experience working together to bring Van Palmer to life during season 2 of Yellowjackets.
After joining the hit Showtime series in its sophomore season, Ambrose, 45, broke down the research she did for the established role, exclusively telling Us Weekly at PaleyFest, “I’ve watched the whole first season and just loved it. I [was], like, ‘I don’t not look like this person. Like, what’s going on here? Does this character survive or what?’ You don’t know. They have no idea. But of course, because they’ve created such a beautiful character, they wanted to keep this character around.”
The actress praised Yellowjackets for exploring Van’s life further in season 2 — and beyond. “I’m very grateful for that because now I have a job. It’s just an incredible thing to jump into this moving ship,” she shared. “[When it comes to the future of the show], I guess it’s really what [creators] Ashley [Lyle] and Bart [Nickerson] and [executive producer] Jonathan [Lisco] have in their hearts and their minds and what they imagined.”
The Servant alum added: “I’ve heard talk about five seasons. I wouldn’t be surprised if that shifted. I’ve seen that happen before in television. I feel like long form storytelling is an incredible and strange thing. These guys are just doing it so, so amazingly.”
Yellowjackets, which debuted in November 2021, follows a group of teenagers involved in a plane crash and the aftermath of their rescue decades later. The hit series also stars Melanie Lynskey, Christina Ricci, Tawny Cypress, Juliette Lewis, Ella Purnell, Sophie Nélisse, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Samantha Hanratty and Sophie Thatcher.
Ambrose went on to recall meeting her younger onscreen counterpart, Hewson, 27, for the first time as the show follows the past and present.
“We met on set in passing when I was there doing fittings and makeup tests. I saw them kind of going by and their dirty clothes and everything,” the Connecticut native said about Hewson, who uses they/them pronouns. “We got to briefly connect and then got to connect a little further.”
Hewson, for their part, recalled the moment they saw Ambrose play the adult version of Van. “The first time I ever saw her in character, it was something about the way she held her shoulders. I was like, ‘Oh, that’s Van. Wow.’ It’s cool,” the Australia native told Us. “When she came on set we met, talked, hung out a little. But I really trust her. I think she’s an amazing actor. I wanted to see what she wanted to bring to the character. Like, that’s part of the fun, I think, is that we both have equal ownership over it.”
Ambrose noted that learning as much as could about Van’s relationship with Taissa (Cypress and Brown) also helped her settle into her character. “The editors of the show — very kindly I asked them if I could see some scenes with Taissa and Van — and they put together for me all of the Van and Taissa moments to watch in a row. It [was] actually a very beautiful little film unto itself,” she recalled. “And that was very helpful to me.”
The Emmy nominee immediately felt welcome on set because of costars such as Cypress, 46.
“Tawny is such a warm and welcoming person. She immediately put me in the [show] group text. She was like the welcome wagon on day 1 when I was feeling so out of sorts. I’m like, ‘What am I doing here in this giant show?’” Ambrose joked. “It seems so overwhelming to walk in on day 1. It was like very much first day of school. That’s probably good for me. But no, Tawny is a beautiful actor and a beautiful person.”
During her interview with Us, Ambrose opened up about her history with costar Ricci, 43, adding, “Christina says that we met when we were, like, 17 years old. I guess I was probably a little older. I haven’t had the pleasure to work with any of these incredible women yet [though]. So I’m really, really grateful for that just because I’ve been such fans of every single one of their work.”
The Six Feet Under alum has credited her lengthy time in the industry for teaching her some important lessons. “Hold your power, which is something that I see these young people on our show doing. So seemingly effortlessly,” Ambrose added. “It’s actually pretty amazing. You really feel like, ‘Oh, wow. So there’s been a lot of progress and a lot of times passed and that’s good.’”
Yellowjackets airs on Showtime Sundays at 9 p.m. ET.
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With reporting by Stephanie Webber