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This Yellowjackets Star Was Only Supposed To Have One Line

Warning: spoilers for Yellowjackets below

"Yellowjackets" is the Showtime series that premiered on November 14, 2021, and after a slow start became one of the most buzzed-about shows of late-2021/early-2022. The series is about a high school girls' soccer team that goes missing in 1996 in the Canadian wilderness after a plane crash. The story follows the Yellowjackets as they fight to survive in 1996, as well as the surviving  members trying to move on from their experience in present-day.

A big reason why the show is so popular is the built-in mystery: which characters survived the events of 1996, and what happened to those who didn't? The show also relies on a strong ensemble cast, who all deliver memorable performances. Each member of the Yellowjackets has some personal baggage that follows them throughout their ordeal. 

In 1996, there's the love triangle between best friends Jackie (Ella Purnell) and Shauna (Sophie Nélisse). There's the secret romance between teammates Taissa (Jasmin Savoy Brown) and Van (Liv Hewson). There's the burgeoning relationship between Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) and the coach's son Travis (Kevin Alves). There's the always delightful budding sociopath Misty (Samantha Hanratty). 

That's a lot of characters to root for, but one of the most important Yellowjackets wasn't even supposed to last beyond the pilot.

Laura Lee ended up being a much bigger character than the creators expected

Castmember Melanie Lynskey, who plays Shauna in present-day, shared the tidbit with Collider.

"Jane [Widdop], who plays, played Laura Lee, they were supposed to have one line in the pilot," Lynskey said. "And then they were so good — or like two lines or something. It was a little part — and then, I don't know if this is public knowledge, but they were not supposed to make it past the plane crash and were so impressive in the table read and in the pilot that then they were brought along."

It makes sense why the creators originally planned to kill off Laura Lee. She's the most religious member of the team, and the most earnest – in the pilot, when Jackie (Ella Purnell) defuses a fight among her teammates by ordering them to say nice things about each other, Laura Lee is the first one to step up. Killing off arguably the purest member of the team would have been a powerful "loss of innocence" moment for the rest of the characters.

Laura Lee wound up being useful, though. Throughout Season 1, she serves as a strong counterpoint to some of her teammates' worst urges. She comforts Lottie (Courtney Eaton), whose mental health unravels without her medication. She disrupts the seance when things get too intense. 

Of course, Laura Lee's deep faith is also what does her in. In episode 8, "Flight of the Bumblebee," she's convinced that she can fly an abandoned Cessna to get help after studying the manual. It doesn't work out. Laura Lee's demise winds up being the tipping point that pushes the Yellowjackets to a much darker place. Without Widdop's strong performance, Season 1 of "Yellowjackets" would have looked much different.