Don’t Read This Courtney Eaton Interview While Eating
The Yellowjackets Antler Queen tells us what’s really in a “Snackie.”
If you don’t like Yellowjackets spoilers or you really like jackfruit, turn back now. If you’re one of the nearly two million people who watched the season 2 premiere or one of the show’s average five-million weekly viewers — you can probably keep reading.
Viewers knew cannibalism was on the menu this season, but even the young cast members were surprised by how early it happened, explains Courtney Eaton, the 27-year-old actress who plays young Lottie. Walking onto set that day, Eaton says, “there was a weird smell in the air, a combination of the smoke on set and how the fake body smelled, and the meat that we were eating, which was jackfruit and rice paper rolls.”
“We called Jackie, ‘Jackie Fruit’ while we were eating her," Eaton notes.
No stranger to a dystopian landscape or a character with some serious trauma, the Australian star got her start in acting playing Cheedo the Fragile, the youngest wife in Mad Max: Fury Road, before co-starring with Gerald Butler in the fantasy film Gods of Egypt.
But it's not all high fantasy and high-stakes survivalism. This year, Eaton received a South by Southwest Award for her performance in Brittany Snow’s directorial debut Parachute. She played Riley, a twenty-something in treatment for disordered eating, noting that the subject matter hit closer to home than the happenings in the Showtime series that has fans glued to their TVs. “I have gone through similar things in my life, so it wasn't a hard stretch to figure out where to go with it," she said of embodying Riley alongside co-stars Gina Rodriguez, Joel McHale, and Kid Cudi.
Related:Sophie Nélisse Thinks 'Yellowjackets' Fan Theories Don't Even Compare to What's Coming in Season 2
Read on for Courtney on why she wouldn’t make a good cult leader and why she thinks young Lottie isn’t a villain.
I know you get asked this all the time and I just told you that I have to watch in 10-minute increments because I get so stressed, but what’s it like for you to film this show?
I don't know what it says about who we are as people and actors, but we usually have a great time on set. Obviously, there are days where we're all crying our eyes out and shoving weird things into our mouths that leave us shell-shocked as we're driving home, but we'll do a pretty good job of leaving it at the door. I think we're just traumatizing you guys. We're doing OK.
I lived with Sophie Nélisse this season, and it was one of the best decisions. We just cooked yummy foods, made a little cookbook, took my dog for a walk.
I can't imagine cooking together after the type of scenes you shoot.
I know. It is weird. Granted, after the Jackie scene, no one was going to crafty after that.
What was it like actually shooting that? You said you were putting weird things in your mouth.
I remember when they called cut after we shot that scene, there was just silence on set, and our producers and Bart and Ashley [writers Nickerson and Lyle, respectively] were behind the camera and were like, "Oh my god, what did we just film?"
I don't think any of us were expecting it to happen so early in the season. There was a weird smell in the air, a combination of the smoke on set and how the fake body smelled and the meat that we were eating, which was jackfruit and rice paper rolls. We called Jackie "Jackie Fruit" while we were eating her.
Between takes, it was fine. We were joking around, doing the Jackie Fruit thing, but once you were filming, it was a weird world to be living in. Samantha [Hanratty] threw up. I gagged. Just the texture of what you are eating and the rice paper pulling how I imagined skin would, and looking down and just seeing this fake body. It was a bit of a mind-fuck. It was an odd one.
I don't think anyone's going back to eating jackfruit anytime soon.
How do you approach playing a character that both has schizophrenia and is on and off meds?
I had a meeting with Bart, Ashley, and Jonathan before shooting the pilot. We talked through ideas of what the medication is and what it’s for.
I didn't want to portray someone with a mental illness to be a villain. Sure, other people might perceive her as a villain, but I don't think she does anything maliciously or intentionally malicious.
She dances between this: Is it the wilderness that's affecting it? Is it the trauma of eating your best friends in a plane crash and possibly dying out there in survival, or is it just that she has absent parents and has never really trusted her own brain? And maybe there isn't anything going on, on the mental illness side?
You said you don't see her as a villain, she's not intentionally malicious. How would you describe her as a leader, both young Lottie and adult Lottie.
I think they approach leadership and power very differently. I think Lottie is still uncomfortable with the idea. At the beginning of season 2, we find her in this leadership role. She has positioned herself to be there, but also there's the pressure of the group putting her on a pedestal, almost. Whether she wants to do it or if she's good at it, I don't think is really up to her at the beginning of the season.
I think especially in the '90s timeline, Lottie is so sensitive to emotions and those around her and she's an empath that I think she can't even handle herself. A leadership role is pretty heavy, weighs heavy on her, and she doesn't really know what she's doing.
Would you make a good cult leader?
I don't think so. I feel like I'm similar to Lottie in that way, that I don't always trust myself. I don't know if I would love to have other people trust me. Maybe when I'm 40 or 50, I'll be running a giant cult.
Do you have a favorite fan theory you've heard?
Actually, my agents sent me one the other day about season 2, about Lottie's compound — that she bought the land that they crashed on, and that's where she put it.
Some of them are so incredible that I'm like, "Bart, Ashley, I think we should go this way," but I shouldn't say that because then I'll get fired.
Related:Jasmin Savoy Brown Is More Than Just the “Strong Femme Lead”
Do you have a Hollywood fairy godmother or mentor?
Actually, I will say [she’s] more of a sister, but I'd say it was Abbey Lee from Mad Max. Other than that, probably Melanie [Lynskey]. She's the on-set mom and she's a powerhouse. I love her.
I was at her place last night having dinner, and she just has this calming energy and just the advice that she gives is so incredible, and the way that she holds herself and the respect that she has from the crew and her colleagues. She can just breathe and I'll be like — [sighs in relief].
How would you describe your style? Do you have any favorite designers right now?
I would say my style is eclectic, cozy, probably more comfort over style, or a combination of both. I mostly thrift, but some brands I love. I love Bode. Everyone loves Bode. I love just the little lived-in, trinket feeling of it.
What's your favorite item of clothing that you've thrifted?
I have this button-up blouse with little poof sleeves and it has a bow tie. Sounds like it's doing the most, but mostly just the simple things like that. Or I thrifted this Saint Laurent black coat, I always call it my New York coat, because I always think of New York people in a long black wool coat. That one is falling apart, I've lived in it so much.
Low-rise jeans, yes or no?
Hell no. I don't even think I need to explain. Just a hell no. Keep them where they were.
If you could eat one meal only for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I have multiple and they're all weird. Either my grandma's pasta, because that reminds me of finishing swimming practice. Or this thing that I used to eat when I was growing up, and it's just bread, butter, and roast potatoes in-between. We call them chip buddies.
That sounds delicious.
Anything in the beige food group, I'll eat that until I die. Bread, chips, potatoes, butter.
If you weren't an actor, what would you see yourself doing?
I'd love to score films, something music related or a psychologist, but I don't know if I could actually mentally be a psychologist. I tend to gravitate toward emotional type things, but I'm also the type of person that is like Lottie and I don't know if I could take too much of other people's stuff.
What’s your idea of a perfect date?
I like something where maybe we're out exploring, and then an idea pops up and we run off and go do that. Just spontaneity.
Who was your first celebrity crush?
I think it was Cillian Murphy. Still is. I feel weird about giving crushes, because what if he hears about it and never wants to meet me?
Photographer: Catie Laffoon. Stylist: Erica Cloud. Styling Assistant: Garrett Ives. Makeup Artist: Dana Delaney. Hair Stylist: Derek Yuen.
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