‘Yellowjackets’: Simone Kessell Explains Why Adult Lottie Buries A Man Alive In The Premiere
SPOILER ALERT: This story contains plot points from the season premiere of Yellowjackets on Showtime.
Fans of Yellowjackets finally got to meet the adult version of Lottie Matthews in the season 2 premiere: she’s now a woo-woo spiritual leader who enjoys expensive things while burying live people in the name of good health. Namaste, suckas!
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Here, Simone Kessell (Obi-Wan Kenobi) talks about Lottie’s crazy trajectory, along with whether the girl who served as a leader to her Yellowjackets teammates while they were marooned in the mountains really believes all that new age-y stuff as an adult.
DEADLINE What an incredible 24 hours for you. I just saw you kicking ass in the premiere episode of Netflix’s The Night Agent. I didn’t realize you were in that.
SIMONE KESSELL I didn’t know that either. [Laughs]. I’ve been a little overwhelmed with Yellowjackets, then I remembered that I did do The Night Agent at the start of last year, which was fantastic. It was so much fun. I got to play this undercover, kick-ass auntie. I love action. I’m trained in stage combat, so that was so much fun.
DEADLINE Let’s start with the most pressing question first. Why did you bury that naked man alive in the premiere?
KESSELL Do you think I’m upstaged by the penis? Somebody else on the cast said to me, ‘what happens at your community, at your compound?’ And I was like, ‘look, it’s just one of the many treatments we offer.’ That’s such a fun scene. It leads into episode two where we really get an idea of the many therapies you can partake of in Lottie’s community.
DEADLINE So will we find out the fate of that poor buried naked guy?
KESSELL No, we move on from him.
DEADLINE That’s quite a camp. How does Lottie describe it?
KESSELL I think Lottie describes it as her intentional community, but it’s quite different from an intentional community where people give up their day-to-day lives and sell their houses and all live in one big commune and share funds. This is very much a place of sanctuary healing and love and life, really. They have taken all the wonderful parts of cults and communities and sort of blended them into what we know as Lottie’s community. As the show progresses, you really get to live in the world of her acolytes or devotees.
DEADLINE We’re obviously led to believe that Lottie has some sort of healing powers. Can you define them?
KESSELL I think Lottie does have healing powers in the sense that she’s been through so much and learned so much along her way. She’s completely reinvented herself as a spiritual healer, as a guru. There were days that I would be giving big speeches about trusting the authentic self and knowing who you are. And at the end of some of them, I would have extras come up and shake my hand or hold me or hug me. I’m gonna tell you this, I went with it. I would hug them back. And then at one point, our showrunner went, ‘well, Simone, if acting doesn’t work out, I think you could have your own cult.’ But we don’t go too hippy-dippy. These are speeches and, I guess sermons really, that she gives about how to work through past pain and trauma. Lottie’s had an abundance of that in her past, so she’s got something to draw on. She’s moved from the darkness into the light, so she’s all in. She really truly believes in her teachings.
DEADLINE So the fact that Natalie [Juliette Lewis] was kidnapped in the premiere… I’m going to assume that Lottie had something to do with that?
KESSELL Yes, absolutely. Purple is the color of my devotees. There’s this great scene coming up in episode two where Natalie says, ‘is that what you were trying to do when your purple fucks jumped me?’ We see Natalie and Lottie walking through the compound and you see the world of Lottie come into effect. We find out why Natalie is there and how she got there.
DEADLINE Where do things stand between adult Lottie and the other adult women?
KESSELL That’s a great thing. After episode six we see all the women arrive at Lottie’s compound. It’s really well done in regards to how everybody starts to filter in. The past is then reflected in the present.
DEADLINE How were you first approached for the job? Did you have to do a self tape?
KESSELL When they came to me, I hadn’t seen the show. They gave me sides, but without much explanation. I was working on a TV show down in New Zealand at the time, and I couldn’t access it, so I had to go online and find out as much as I could without seeing the show. So I thought, ‘oh, is this Lottie a psychiatrist?’ Lemme tell you, it wasn’t a great audition, but when they came back with more specific notes, I was like, what? Then I really dug into as much as I could online. I did a second self tape as a spiritual guru, a cult leader, without making her a caricature. And then when I saw the beautiful work of Courtney Eaton [who plays young Lottie], I recognized myself in her. We have very similar energy and mannerisms. And we’re both part Māori. She actually looks a lot like my son. I was very much taken with her intensity and I thought, ‘okay, how can I take this to another level as a woman?’ It was so wonderful to do the work because the showrunners really let me go with it. I really wanted it to be a show. Lottie is a show woman. It’s a mask that she puts on. I really wanted to bring her in with this love and light. That was one of my questions to [co-creator] Bart Nickerson. I said, ‘does she really believe this?’ And he said, ‘she absolutely wants to heal and take care of people.’ So I was like, ‘okay, so why does she have a gold Rolex?’ She likes fine things. It’s not cheap to go to Lottie’s compound. She starts to unravel as the series progresses. Lottie is a slow burn throughout the season until the very end, and you’ll see those layers peel away.
DEADLINE So when you were doing the research, were you able to pick up that it became quite a hit in its first season?
KESSELL Yeah, I was very much aware that the show was big. When I got back to Australia, I was able to get Paramount+ and straight away I was like, ‘what is this show? And then when Lottie kills the bear? She stabs the bear in the neck and then holds up its heart? I was floored. And then, oh by the way, Simone you are cast as the adult version of that. I was like, what?
DEADLINE So who is the girl in the Yellowjackets marketing image? You know, with the antlers and the netting over her face?
KESSELL Well, it’s very much set up in the first season that Lottie is the antler queen because she really is the leader. She’s the one giving them hope. She’s the one who’s drawing on the natural elements when they’re a lot younger. But it’s meant to be anonymous. I think it symbolizes that it’s in all of us. The antler queen is all of us. It was our hope for survival back in the nineties, and it’s still with us in the present day. I think that’s the clever twist in the show that it starts to bleed, no pun intended, into each and every character.
DEADLINE Any chance that adult Lottie is into cannibalism?
KESSELL No, she is vegan. She has left her cannibalism days behind her because they are not real in her head.
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