Juliette Lewis Says ‘Natural Born Killers’ Backlash Carried a Double-Standard: I Was ‘Crazy,’ Woody Harrelson Was ‘Acting’

The “Yellowjackets” star in contrast got choked up over the positive reaction to her role in the Showtime series

Natural Born Killers
Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis in "Natural Born Killers" (Warner Bros./Lionsgate)

Juliette Lewis said she’s “floored” at the positive reception she’s had for “Yellowjackets,” the Showtime series about teen girls and their grown-up counterparts behaving badly, because of previous criticism she faced when she played a spree killer in Oliver Stone’s 1994 movie “Natural Born Killers.”

“Way back when I did ‘Natural Born Killers,’ they thought I was crazy, but they didn’t think about Woody Harrelson. They accepted him as he was acting, but a woman showing volatility and repulsive behavior was certainly, you know [not acceptable],” she said at the Season 2 premiere of “Yellowjackets” this week.

Lewis got choked up as she told the crowd at the TCL Chinese Theatre: “I don’t read reviews. Don’t believe the hype and maybe you gotta believe the s—t. [My team] keeps me neutral. However, people really validated me in ‘Yellowjackets.’ And I was completely flabbergasted and floored and it took me out of my head. And so that’s why I was getting verklempt.”

Lewis had received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her role as a naive teenager in Martin Scorsese’s “Cape Fear,” but said her role as the bloodthirsty Mallory hurt her career in a way that didn’t apply to Harrelson.

The outcry over “Natural Born Killers” was intense, especially when real life spree-killers claimed they were inspired by the violent movie and the Columbine shooters used the title as code word for their 1999 high school massacre.

“I’ve always had one foot out the door of this business, and when this script came along, it was really wild and amazing,” she said of her ‘Yellowjackets” character, Natalie, who survived a plane crash and 19 brutal months in the wilderness and has turned to sex, drugs and alcohol to drown her trauma.

“I was so happy that the writers and creators here gave me a dance floor on which to dance,” she said with a smile as the audience and her fellow cast members, including Melanie Lynskey, Christina Ricci, and Elijah Wood, applauded her.