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Jennifer Coolidge Says She Almost Said No To “The White Lotus” Because She Was Pandemic-Depressed And Eating Pizza All Day

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The finale for HBO’s The White Lotus airs this Sunday and it’s already been picked up for a second season (with a brand new cast and locale). For me, the bright spots of the show were Steve Zahn’s swollen balls, the ass-eating scene, and hilarious Jennifer Coolidge as “alcoholic lunatic” Tanya. Creator Mike White wrote the role specifically for Jennifer, but, in a new interview with The Guardian, she reveals she almost didn’t take the role because she’d been “self-destructing at home for months” during the pandemic. Jennifer says she was sad, eating pizza all day, and didn’t wanna be seen on film “unless they shot me from the neck up.” Same, Jenn. Same.

Jennifer says that, like many of us, she was really affected by the pandemic and didn’t think she was in a place to fly off to Hawaii to shoot a new series:

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. But then [White Lotus creator] 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 fucking way.

But eventually, Jennifer changed her mind and doesn’t regret it:

Mike texted me at 2am one night and it just said: “Are you afraid?” It was like he could read my mind and sensed that I was trying to get out of it. Then a great friend of mine told me to own my mess and just do it. 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.

There are some other J.Cool gems in the interview. Jennifer says that her super-old, gothic, possibly haunted house in New Orleans, was where Sofia Coppola shot 2017’s The Beguiled (“Old news!” replied fans who memorized last year’s “25 Things You Didn’t Know About Jennifer Coolidge”). 

She also shared another anecdote she’s shared before. She used to pose as Ernest Hemingway’s other other granddaughter, “Muffin Hemingway”, to get into nightclubs. Not surprising, as this is the woman who once pretended to be her own identical twin on vacation so she could juggle dating two guys who knew each other. Damn, how lucky are we that we get to exist in the same historical era as this genius/icon/mistress of disguise? The answer is: very.

Pic: HBO