Mike White’s The White Lotus is a striking comedy-drama series, exploring the rather disastrous downside of being filthy rich as it dives into the ugly truths and dark secrets of an array of intriguing characters through means of social satire.
Part of what makes the show such a sensational hit is the iconic character of the wealthy yet dysfunctional Tanya McQuoid. Can you imagine what it would have been like if someone else other than Jennifer Coolidge portrayed her? Well, the American Pie actress nearly didn’t play the protagonist in the Primetime Emmy Award-winning drama series. But thanks to the show’s director and the advice of a good friend, she came around. The show certainly wouldn’t have been such a hit without her.
Jennifer Coolidge Nearly Missed Out on Playing Tanya in The White Lotus
Back in 2021 when the first season of The White Lotus premiered, Jennifer Coolidge opened up about how she almost didn’t star in the HBO series. In an interview with The Guardian, the Legally Blonde star revealed how the struggles of the pandemic had weighed her down, admitting that her “work” was the last thing on her mind at that time since all those “tragic news stories” about death had her convinced that she wouldn’t make it through either.
“I was really affected by the pandemic. It was an incredibly sad time. I was reading tragic news stories on a daily basis, had a fatalistic approach and assumed the virus was going to win. I knew people who lost their lives and was convinced we wouldn’t make it through. I wasn’t thinking about work, because I didn’t think we’d be alive.”
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Coolidge explained how by the time Mike White, the director of The White Lotus, approached her to get her on board, she’d been indulging in such “self-destructive” tendencies that she thought it was an insurmountable feat to get her to even step out of the house.
“But then [White Lotuscreator] Mike White called. His show about rich people on vacation had been picked up by HBO and he’d written a role with me in mind. I said, ‘OK, when are we doing it?’ He said, ‘What do you mean? We just got green-lit. We’re doing it now. You need to get on a plane to Hawaii.’ That was an impossibility to my mind. I’d been gorging and self-destructing at home for months, eating pizza all day. There was no way I wanted to be on film unless they shot me from the neck up. I’m sort of vain, so there was no f**king way.”
However, White was successful in convincing her and Coolidge finally put her work shoes on as she got all ready to serve her best performance, which is exactly what she did.
How Jennifer Coolidge Came Around to Star in the HBO Show
When The Watcher actress hesitated with regard to working in The White Lotus, she received a message from White at 2 in the morning, asking her if she was “afraid,” as if he could peek straight into her mind and read her thoughts. At the same time, a close friend of Coolidge further encouraged her to take responsibility for her “mess” and to “just do it” without questioning everything too much.
The Seinfeld star herself was so glad that she gathered up some courage and confidence to get on board as she noted how she would’ve definitely regretted her decision if she’d chosen to not work with White on the drama series.
“I can’t tell you how close I came to ruining this whole thing for myself. It’s such a great lesson in life. I’d never have forgiven myself. I would’ve sat down to watch The White Lotus and said, ‘What the hell was I thinking? I’m an insane person.’ A lot of us actors are so insecure and scared of failure, we blow our own chances.”
Turns out all Coolidge needed was to take the leap of faith. And lo and behold, not only did she do an excellent job, but The White Lotus even ended up being a major success!
The White Lotus is available for streaming on HBO.
Source: The Guardian