Awards Daily talks to Simone Kessell of Showtime’s Yellowjackets about what Lottie Matthews has been up to in the past 25 years and the scene that broke her father. *Spoilers Ahead*
When Simone Kessell took on the role of adult Lottie in Season 2 of Yellowjackets, she had one thing on her mind.
“The first thing I needed to do was meet Courtney [Eaton] (who plays Teen Lottie) in real life, out of respect for this beautiful character she had crafted,” says Kessell. “I wanted her to know, ‘I got it! You can hand it over to me, and I promise you I will check in with you!’ Then I met her, and she is truly so beautiful inside and out. She’s a bit daggy, as we way, a bit goofy like I am. We wear our hearts on our sleeves.”
After meeting Eaton, Kessell tried to take in some of her mannerisms and find the adult character, asking a barrage of questions to the showrunners as she put together the pieces of Lottie.
“They were particular about how Lottie from the past has come from the darkness and into the light.”
Once she found her voice, the intimidation and nerves dissipated. “The butterfly was hatched.”
Picking up with Adult Lottie, Yellowjackets Season 2
Adult Lottie might be the most scarred character on the show. In Season 2, we quickly learn that she didn’t speak after being rescued in 1998, and her family forced her to undergo shock therapy. None of the other Yellowjackets know what happened to her in the 25 years since she was institutionalized in Switzerland.
“That was a great way to reiterate that Lottie has completely recreated herself. She is haunted because I believe what happened in those 25 years that we haven’t seen in Yellowjackets is bad stuff. Her family has completely discarded her, but it all stems from what happened in the wilderness in those 19 months. She’s had shock treatment, she’s had medication. For her, it’s more on her skin, the absolute horror of what has happened.”
Kessell says the women wear this horror in different ways, with Tai eating dirt and Misty killing people. “I liked that [Lottie] was so tactile and visceral and in tune because that’s what she also does as a spiritual healer or cult leader.”
The Scene that Broke Kessell’s Dad
One of the scenes in Season 2 that reminds us of Kessell’s acting range as well as her character’s penchant for visions is when Lottie discovers her bees have been destroyed with blood (or she thinks they have been destroyed). Tori Amos’s “Bells for Her” serves as the perfect soundtrack for this descent into madness.
“We were losing light, and we had two takes of it. Also, I didn’t really understand where this was going to [lead]. And that’s the other thing, the way they write the show, what we see is what we get, but we don’t know the arc. So I have to be very present.”
When working on these scenes without context, Kessell says she would look back at what past Lottie was doing to see how that would affect her in the present.
“With that scene, the idea that all her bees had died. Earlier on with Natalie, you could tell that these bees were her absolute love and pride, her hives. It’s a beautiful moment that she’s very proud of this. It’s quite magical for Lottie. So when the idea that that is gone and her vision is a massacre and the visual of the blood would take you back to the vision of what happened to these women, so it taps a trigger. I was so in it that when they called “Cut!”, I came out of it and was like, ‘What?’ I went there. When my father watched it, he said, ‘That scene broke me. You don’t even speak. But it broke me as your father. I can’t get it out of my head.'”
Lottie, the Sacrificial Goat?
In Episode 7, teen Lottie allows teen Shauna to unleash her postpartum frustration on herself, almost as a sacrifice. In turn, Shauna nearly beats Lottie to death. Kessell used this scene from the “past” to inform her “present” performance opposite adult Shauna (Melanie Lynskey) in the self-care scene with the goat.
“I was still wearing a touch of what had happened with the beating, and a part of me was very much like, ‘Would I touch her? Would I be compassionate?’ No, because I’m very tactile as Lottie, with Natalie and all my acolytes, and she’s standing there crying, and I don’t touch her. I’m incredibly close to Melanie, but I purposefully chose as a character not to touch her because I still feel a little touch of animosity. Even though young Lottie asked for it.”
In the penultimate episode before the Season 2 finale, adult Lottie reintroduces the wilderness tradition of sacrifice, bringing out a flight of tea cups, one of which contains the horse tranquilizer, phenobarbital. Does Lottie secretly hope to draw the Queen card? Kessell thinks so.
“She’s ready to drink the tea, and when we were doing the scene, she points out to everybody how unhappy they are. She and Van are the only ones who haven’t done terrible things, but she just can’t deal with the pain.”
Kessell describes the scene, which took two days to complete, as very emotional to shoot.
“That day, when I do the offering of the tea, I had to take myself away from everybody. I had to find that moment because I imagine you couldn’t be around other people if you were that desperate in your personal life.”
Yellowjackets Season 2 is streaming on the Showtime app.