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Jennifer Coolidge Almost Turned Down 'The White Lotus' Because She Was 'Not In the Mood'

By Emma Chance | TV | June 14, 2023 |

By Emma Chance | TV | June 14, 2023 |


In a recent interview with Phoebe Reilly of British GQ, Jennifer Coolidge admitted that she almost turned down the now iconic role of Tanya McQuoid in Mike White’s The White Lotus.

“I was, like, not in the mood,” Coolidge told Reilly about how she felt when White called to offer her the part. It was during the pandemic when she was isolated in her house in New Orleans, pigging out on pizza and feeling sorry for herself (like all of us), so she felt insecure about getting in front of a camera again. White sensed her hesitation and sent her a text asking, “Are you scared?” Reilly asked her the same question, positing that maybe it was failure or even success that she was afraid of.

“I was depressed,” was Coolidge’s response. “I was very depressed.”

Coolidge has been a household name for decades, always appearing in comedies as the absurd beauty shop owner, or the absurd mother-in-law, or the absurd town bimbo. She has always been the butt of the joke. Tanya McQuoid was the same, in that she was also an absurd woman, but she was different. She may still have been the butt of the joke, but she was also the heart of the show. White wrote the role specifically for her, perhaps knowing that only she could portray a character with such a tragic-comic arc and make her lovable.

“Jennifer has this incredible presence,” Naomi Watts told Reilly. The two actresses starred opposite each other in Ryan Murphy’s The Watcher. “You believe anything she says, even if it’s completely bizarre.”

It’s that bizarre believability that is specific to Coolidge, and that makes her so good at playing flawed characters and giving them heart. Now that Tanya has been killed off, she’s fielding more offers than she’s had in her entire career.

“Maybe it will really get me off my ass,” she said. “I think sometimes it’s good to be nervous.”

Source: British GQ