Casting director for the Showtime series Yellowjackets discusses the process for casting the main characters’ younger counterparts for the show.
One of the casting directors for the Showtime series Yellowjackets discusses the process for casting the main characters’ younger counterparts for the show. The series follows Wiskayok High School’s soccer team, the Yellowjackets, and the harrowing events that follow after their plane crashes in the middle of nowhere. The series takes place in two timelines, one for the high school versions of the characters trying to survive in the wilderness, and one 25 years later for the adult version of the characters who survived being stranded.
The series switches back and forth from each timeline in each episode, making it so that viewers are able to make direct comparisons to the adult characters that survived and their high school counterparts. Some characters in the series embody noticeably different looks when in high school than when they are adults, such as Natalie, who’s bleached blond hair in her high school version (played by Sophie Thatcher) differs from her jet black hair as an adult (played by Juliette Lewis). Other characters have more physical similarities in both their younger selves and adult versions, as evidenced by Misty’s signature curly hair being immediately recognizable in both the wilderness as a teen (played by Samantha Hanratty) and later in the adult timeline (played by Christina Ricci).
That’s one thing that I think is so beautiful about Yellowjackets. Because all of you have such unique characters and the fact that we have them in the old and the young. It’s not that you guys just…that we were able to end up matching the looks, and it’s not that we’d match the looks, Libby and I keep saying, you know, that we were never looking for look-alikes. We were looking for people that had the same essence, and could roll the same. And through hair and makeup, and it actually it worked out amazingly well, almost better than any of us thought.
Lowry-Johnson’s decision to cast actors for the younger counterparts that fit the “essence” of the character seems to have paid off, as the viewer instantly knows who each character is in each timeline. It also makes sense that the high school versions of the characters would not look, or even act, exactly the same as their adult counterparts, as the series is in part about how much people change over time, especially after traumatic events, while maintaining some of their core characteristics in both their younger and adult selves. One example of this is that even though Natalie’s character has different appearances in each timeline, her biting sense of humor comes through in both. Thatcher’s and Lewis’ portrayals make it clear that, over the years, Natalie becomes even more cynical and guarded than Thatcher’s version of the character.
Part of what is so engaging about the series is seeing the similarities in both the adult and teen versions of the characters, while also seeing how the differences in the adult characters in part stem from the events that happened in the wilderness. Casting each actor to fit best with the specific characters, whether it’s the teen version or the adult version, allows for each pair of actors to truly allow their performances to be fully focused on their character at a specific point in time. Viewers will have to continue watching Yellowjackets season 2 to see how both the adult characters and their younger counterparts continue to show new sides to their complex personalities.