Kaley Cuoco, Zosia Mamet on Upping the Ante of ‘The Flight Attendant’ – The Hollywood Reporter
Season two of HBO Max’s The Flight Attendant is grander, deeper and more real, stars Kaley Cuoco and Zosia Mamet tell THR, sitting side by side on a couch in Cuoco’s home, where they’ve been living together during production of the second season. The two real-life friends play best friends on the show, which in its second go-round follows flight attendant Cassie Bowden as she becomes an asset for the CIA but soon realizes that a woman pretending to be her is causing havoc around the globe.
Cuoco and Mamet talk to THR about how the show blended with real lives (including Cuoco filing for divorce from equestrian Karl Cook around the same time season two was starting to film), their acting processes and how it deepened their friendship.
How did season two feel different to you both?
KALEY CUOCO After season one was successful and big in its own right, we wanted to go bigger this year [in terms of] what the storylines were and we added more cast, and just everything about it was tenfold. Visually, the stakes were higher. I just feel like all around, the entire season was so much bigger than season one.
ZOSIA MAMET I think it also was really balanced in that it wasn’t just like the stakes got bigger and the travel got bigger and the espionage and the blowing things up, but also it got bigger and deeper in terms of how much we cracked open each one of the characters individually. Kaley’s character is dealing with some very intense inner turmoil, but really, everyone is going through their own thing.
Your characters are more vulnerable this season. How did you get yourself into that mindset?
CUOCO I don’t really have a process — that’s kind of my process — but this season was weird because I was dealing with a lot of stuff emotionally and so it was all-encompassing. I felt like I was all one person, whether Cassie was upset or Kaley, it was all becoming the same thing. What was going on in my life, it was an accident that it was during the same time. This was not like a set-up thing. It worked for what I needed to do, but that’s not to say that it wasn’t a nightmare while I was doing it. I wouldn’t suggest doing it that way.
MAMET I can attest to the fact that it made for some exceptionally difficult days. It was a meta experience.
CUOCO Yeah, and I’m so not that person, but it became that for sure. It was accidental. So not my process. No one would ever say that about me.
MAMET I think one of the reasons Kaley and I work so well together is that both our processes are sort of a non-process, like we show up on time, know our lines …
CUOCO I think we’re more concerned about what we’re having for dinner.
MAMET Yeah, like what are the snacks? Is there coffee with oat milk nearby? But yeah, I think we’re both players. We just show up and we go, and we both are so down to play. Obviously we were on a set where we had the space to do that, but no, I don’t really have a process.
Was there a specific scene that was more challenging?
MAMET It genuinely did feel like we had to squeeze the lemon very hard this year to get the juice. It was a bizarre season where circumstantially, everyone seemed to be going through stuff. It was really ambitious. The days were long. They were hard. I don’t think there’s any one day in particular that I can point to and be like, that day. It was a tough shoot, for sure.
CUOCO It was definitely a tough shoot. The saddest moment for me shooting was definitely my breakup with Marco [played by Santiago Cabrera]. It felt way too real. It was just too much too soon. I was having a full-blown meltdown. It was not enjoyable at all. Everyone’s always like, “Oh my God, that performance is so good!” I’m like, was it? Because I think I was just being myself! It was therapy.
MAMET I will say, though, from an outsider perspective, I hear that, but also I can attest to the fact that Kaley was going through an exceptionally hard time personally, and you allowed that to exist onscreen, but to be able to even show up for work and know your lines and do your job in a beautiful way, is a challenge in and of itself.
CUOCO Thank you. The season starts out a little pink cloud-ish, but it gets pretty dark pretty quickly. That’s why I was fighting for so many comedic moments at the beginning because I knew how dark it was going to get and I was trying to remind everybody that this is still a comedy. It’s hard to remember, right? But I do think that we found those moments early in the season and it paid off.
Similarly, what was your most fun scene to shoot?
CUOCO The scene when I have to write [Zosia] the note. We were just in a mood. We were on another level, like we couldn’t stop [laughing].
MAMET In between takes, we were lying on the bed in the guest room in the bungalow set. I don’t even remember about what, [but] literally everyone on set probably wanted to murder us. We were like two 12-year-old girls, losing our minds, crying so hard. Kaley was just writing stupid stuff —
CUOCO — and I made her read them on camera. I kept writing, “Dear Annie, I hate Max. See you soon.”
MAMET Or “Dear Annie, goodbye forever. I’ve always hated you. Not love, Cassie.”
How do you decompress after a dark scene?
CUOCO Zosia and I lived together the last few months of shooting, and we went to work together sometimes. We were each other’s decompression, for sure. We helped each other out tremendously, [Zosia] probably helping me out more so than anything, but it was just really cool. I’ve never had that experience before. I’ve never lived with [a female friend before] and then gone to work with them. We just had such an all-encompassing friendship during this whole experience, which is so rare.
MAMET Neither of us went to college and we never had roommates. We went straight from living alone to living with partners. Our castmates used to joke that we were basically living in a fraternity. We were sharing a trailer and people were like, “OK, we get it. You love each other.” Our friendship blossomed in an even deeper way than it already had, and I really think just having each other, it sounds cheesy and cliché, but we just laugh so much.
From left: Deniz Akdeniz, Cuoco and Mamet in HBO Max’s The Flight Attendant.
COURTESY OF HBO MAX
Kaley, your character often goes to her “mind palace,” where she is confronted with versions of herself to deal with her issues. This season, there are more Cassies than last season. Talk to me about the logistics of that.
CUOCO It was a very new process for me. I had a lot of body and acting doubles. I couldn’t have done it without the whole group. It was so funny, there were so many Cassies walking around, you really didn’t know who was who. Definitely a process I don’t want to do again. As an actor, I’m very in the moment and I like to play, and this process with motion capture is the opposite of that. There’s no playing, you have to commit to what you’re doing. You have to mimic your next self and then my double is having to copy what I do and so I need to be very careful about what I do and it’s very complicated, very specific, not the way I like to work … I’d be looking at my body double right in the eye and then I’d go back and watch playback, and if I’m off by a centimeter, it literally looks like I’m looking at the ceiling. It didn’t make any sense to me. I’m like, “Why does it not look like I’m looking at her?” It was a big team effort for sure. But yeah, not going to do that again. At least I know how to do it now!
Where was your favorite place that you traveled to this season?
CUOCO Zosia gets very sad about this. She goes, “If we do a third season, can you please have Annie travel with you?”
MAMET I have a real chip on my shoulder. When they were going to Iceland, I was like, “Can I play a non-credited sheep? I’ll do it for a day rate. Please!”
CUOCO Iceland was incredible. That was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had as a human. I was so worried about the trip — it was the height of COVID and was so far. It was during December and we were like, “Are we insane? Who chose this?” It ended up being unbelievable — one, because I’m such a Christmas elf, so is Zosia, and it feels like Christmas threw up in Iceland during December. Santa and Christmas music and Christmas stores and it’s very magical, to say the least.
MAMET I would get voice notes and videos and photos every day. And I was like, “Cool. This is great. When are we planning our return trip?”
Interview edited for length and clarity.
This story first appeared in a June stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.