Jennifer Coolidge at the premiere of The White Lotus in California. Photo / Getty Images
Jennifer Coolidge was suffering crippling anxiety before accepting her latest TV role, revealing she “didn’t think any of us were going to survive”.
Jennifer Coolidge has been a staple in showbiz for the better part of three decades.
For eight months last year that continuity in the entertainment industry came to a screeching halt when Covid-19 hit, but it wasn’t her career Coolidge was worried about.
The 59-year-old film veteran, who is promoting her new HBO series The White Lotus which premieres on Foxtel on Monday at 11am, said she genuinely believed she “would be dead” and wouldn’t act again.
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t think this Covid thing was going to ever change. I thought we were doomed,” the Legally Blonde star said.
“The fruit I was eating, I was soaking in bleach … No wonder I felt ill all the time, but I didn’t think this was going to end.
“And so, I didn’t know someone was going to offer me a job in October, I thought I would be dead by then. I mean, I just didn’t think any of us were going to survive. I just had a very fatalistic view of this horrible virus.”
After being offered a role in the comedy satire back in October, which involved shooting six episodes in Maui, Hawaii, Coolidge still had reservations about entering the real world.
“I was trying to postpone it. I was trying to figure out ways I could do it at a later time or something,” Coolidge added.
“[Producer] Mike White figured out that I was apprehensive about it, and in the middle of the night, when I was trying to think of an excuse to get out of this job, my little phone dinged and it was like two in the morning and I looked down and it was Mike White, and just the text said, ‘Are you afraid?’
“Somehow he could tell through the airwaves that I was trying to back out somehow and then after that, of course I couldn’t.
“Once someone knows you get out of it, your lie to get out of it doesn’t work because they already know it’s a lie … And look, I’m thrilled I did it.
“I’m just saying, I was incredibly nervous about this job. I was in lousy shape when I started the job. I’ve not been taking care of myself because like I said, I thought Covid was going to kill us all, and so I really went having a big last hurrah of pizzas and ice cream all day long until the grave.”
Coolidge plays Tanya McQuoid in The White Lotus, a wealthy, unstable woman recovering from the death of her mother.
She said she doesn’t often get offered “realistic” roles and was excited to break out into a different character.
“If there’s a stack of scripts that shows up at my house, it’s usually … And look, I don’t want to put them down, it’s how I’ve been able to make a living for the last 20 years, or I guess, god, this is so sad, 30 years … But I get a lot of broad comedies, that’s what comes my way.
“So a role like this, where I get to play someone far more complicated and as troubled as Tanya, and someone who’s truly suffering, it’s just a great opportunity.”
As for the future, Coolidge is ready to be acting again, saying her dream role would be “someone evil”.
“Except for Fiona, the stepmother in Cinderella [co-starring Hilary Duff], I’ve never really gotten to play anyone evil,” Coolidge said.
“And I think that would be an incredible challenge and I would really love to do that just because it would be so out of sight of what anyone ever offers.
“And as you get older, you get braver and you want to try things that might not work out, but you really want to try it. I don’t know. I think that’s one thing I haven’t been able to get, is an offer to play someone really, really bad.”
The White Lotus, written, directed and created by US writer Mike White (School Of Rock), follows the vacations of various wealthy hotel guests over the span of a week in paradise.
An official synopsis adds, “But with each passing day, a darker complexity emerges in these picture-perfect travellers, the hotel’s cheerful employees and the idyllic locale itself.”
Jennifer Coolidge thought she ‘would be dead’ from Covid before latest acting gig – NZ Herald