Juliette Lewis: the fierce, menacing, vital and seductive actress who was an icon of the 90s is finally back

How to forget the appearance of juliet lewis in cape of fear (available on Google Play and Apple TV), by Martin Scorsese, under the skin of a shy teenager who reveals her family’s imposture to the rhythm of the disturbing seduction that unites her with the psychopath Max Cady (Robert De Niro)? Or the literature student who exposed the pathetic insecurities of a mature professor in the scandalous husbands and wives (available on Google Play), by Woody Allen? Or the girlfriend of the serial killer who turned a newspaper report into a festival of sadism in California (available on Google Play)?

Lewis embodied in her youth that dark side of the rising generation of MTV, a bad girl with makeup vintage and that conscious provocation that impregnated his seduction of the 90s punk explosion. Dark hair, outlined eyes, big mouth; his figure penetrated the masculine imaginary on a sharp ledge, the one that separated that femme fatale of calculated madness from the abyss of an infernal carnage. Perhaps the film that best recorded the heyday of his personality was Murderers by nature (available on Movistar Play), by Oliver Stone, with the duo along with Woody Harrelson as a carefree portrait of everything that contained that world of marginality and mass murder: danger and fascination, terror and tragedy.

Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis in California (1993).

That imaginary that was attached to the actress’s back returns as a key nod to her character in yellowjackets, the new Showtime series that can be seen in our country through Paramount+. Created by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson (both producers of narcs and how rare it was Dispatches from Elsewhere) tells the story of a New Jersey women’s soccer team that goes missing after a plane crash in the Ontario desert and only a few players survive after months of waiting for rescue. All this happens in 1996 and 25 years later, four of the survivors are still plagued by ghosts and questions about what happened in that tragic past.

The trigger seems to combine the story of survival of Lord of the Flies and the cannibalism of They live! with the fantastic intrigues of lost, including the downed plane and the arming of sides and leadership in the quest for a new civilization. But what defines the story are the effects of that forced survival in the wild on these adolescents today turned into adult women. Temporary games allow you to put your present and past stories in parallel, read the correspondences of your attitudes, the effect of the competitive environment on the formation of alliances and friendships, and, of course, sow all possible doubts about what you want to hide from that adventure.

Juliette Lewis plays Natalie, the punk girl of the group, a compendium of that universe that she embodied in her own adolescence in the cinema. In the past, Natalie (played by Sophie Thatcher) doesn’t have many friends, she uses drugs, alcohol and sex as a form of worn-out rebellion, but she embodies the voice of ethics in the face of some dark pacts of convenience that make the team’s dynamic rare. . The football team at Wiskayok College in New Jersey seems to provide her only sense of belonging, and the national competition in Seattle her only horizon of pride.

The plane ride with her companions is then a challenge in several aspects: to offer a possible direction to her disorientation, a palpable purpose to her thirst for conquest. But when we travel to the present, Natalie seems to have lost that motivation, her recurring ins and outs of rehab finding her at an impasse. However, the arrival of a mysterious postcard that recalls her time in the desert sets her off to rediscover her friends from her past, discover the truth behind that return of the forbidden.

In Yellowjackets, the new Paramount + series, Juliette Lewis is Natalie, one of the survivors of a plane crash in the 90s who, in the present, is reunited with the ghosts of that tragedy.
In Yellowjackets, the new Paramount + series, Juliette Lewis is Natalie, one of the survivors of a plane crash in the 90s who, in the present, is reunited with the ghosts of that tragedy.Kailey Schwerman – SHOWTIME

Juliette Lewis’s story as an actress also seems to have turned its course in the decade following her break into film. The 2000s found her starring in minor films –The devils throat (available on Star+), Northern Lights-, playing secondary roles in some comedies like Those old times (available on Google Play and Apple TV+) or Starsky & Hutch (available on Google Play and Apple TV+), and excelling in their participation in whip it (available on Amazon Prime Video) or a whole birth (Available on Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max and Movistar Play).

In that decade in which the mainstream reconfigured its personality, under the rule of special effects and the birth of superhero franchises, some figures that had found their place in the 90s, perhaps modeled by the aesthetic forms of what remained of the counterculture, or by a self-assurance that no longer worked in their progressive maturity, faded like a faint shadow of a still recent past. It’s interesting how yellowjacketsespecially in the pilot directed by Karyn Kusama (Diabolic temptation, Destruction), appropriates that difficult leap between a promising youth and a present of questions in the same story of Natalie, represented in the slim figure of Lewis, with her dark hair and heavy makeup as then, now with the traces of time and the experience.

Natalie (Juliette Lewis) seeks revenge on the Yellowjackets.
Natalie (Juliette Lewis) seeks revenge on the Yellowjackets.Paul Sarkis – SHOWTIME

“What Natalie wants is revenge. She returns to her hometown, a place she hates, with people she doesn’t like, to find a satisfaction that she still doesn’t know what she stands for. I was interested in playing with increasing animosity and friction someone who seems to have a dead soul, who needs to plunge into pain and follow the path of destruction as the only way out.”, the actress explained in a recent interview with AV Club about the keys to the series and her character.

Those trips into the dark seem to recall those of the characters in California either Murderers by nature, but now defined in a time of return, of reinvention of itself on the screen. The serial opportunity, vital to many ’90s actors that later cinema seemed to have forgotten, hadn’t been so promising for Lewis until yellowjackets. Secrets and Lies (available on Star +) stayed afloat for two seasons but did not achieve much importance, Camping (available on HBO Max) ended up failing Lena Dunham’s expectations after the success of Girlsand perhaps his two best projects were The Act (available on Movistar Play) and I Know This Much Is True (available on HBO Max), still with supporting roles.

Juliette Lewis in I Know This Much Is True, a miniseries available on HBO Max.
Juliette Lewis in I Know This Much Is True, a miniseries available on HBO Max.

yellowjackets it has a clear aura of return. Juliette Lewis not only shares the bill with actresses like Christina Ricci, Tawny Cypress and Melanie Lynskey, but also with a cast of young actresses like Ella Purnell, Sophie Thatcher and Samantha Hanratty, who flesh out a story that expands episode after episode. From the initial portrait of that youthful world of a provincial city, with the dynamics of the sports team, the tensions of the competition and the learning of a coming of ageunfolds in a survival story that reaches echoes of horror in an inhospitable, unknown space inhabited by the dark side of his own passions.

One of the great discoveries is the preparation of the characters in that temporary hiatus that separates their adolescence from their adult life. Access the transformation of each one of them through the impact of that tragic event of the past, the silence about what happened, the memories of what they were capable of to get out alive. “The other youthful selves of each of our adult characters,” says Lewis, “provides the audience with the information to understand who we have become. How were they before the plane crash and how were they after that extreme experience?

Christina Ricci, Melanie Lynskey, Juliette Lewis and Tawny Cypress make up the cast of Yellowjackets.
Christina Ricci, Melanie Lynskey, Juliette Lewis and Tawny Cypress make up the cast of Yellowjackets.

Juliette Lewis moves comfortably in that state of anxiety that offers yellowjackets, a precarious balance that seems threatened by the inevitable emergence of the silenced. All the characters of his youth seemed cornered in the same floodgates between the pressure of the explosion and the fury of the liberation. Here Natalie offers the most obvious face of those splinters that still remain embedded in her body and in her memory as effects of the trauma. Her companions seem to be more apt for other strategies: the sociopathic facade that keeps Christina Ricci’s Misty in line or the desperate housewife that Melanie Lynskey embodies in the personality of Shauna. In Natalie everything is finally on the surface, her revenge when she wields a rifle, her brutal honesty when she says goodbye to the failed therapy. That Juliette Lewis that we knew in her beginnings, fierce and threatening, vital and seductive, is finally back.

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Juliette Lewis: the fierce, menacing, vital and seductive actress who was an icon of the 90s is finally back


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