‘The Flight Attendant’ Stars Kaley Cuoco & Rosie Perez Tease Season Two – The Hollywood Reporter
Halfway between a black comedy and a Hitchcockian psychodrama, HBO Max’s The stewardess follows Cassie Bowden (Kaley Cuoco), a fun-loving flight attendant whose life spirals out of control after waking up next to a dead man. It’s also a story about addiction, dealing with the past, and how friendships bend or break under pressure, as in the case of Cassie and her colleague Megan (Rosie Perez). Even though their on-screen friendship is sometimes on the rocks, the love is real between stars Cuoco (who has also served as an executive producer and is nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy) and Perez (Emmy nominated as supporting actress). The pair recently spoke to THR how they came to collaborate, The stewardessthe wacky tone on the fly and what’s next for their characters.
Kaley, I read that you begged Rosie to play the part and it took a bit of conviction. How did you know Rosie was perfect for Megan? And Rosie, what made you give in?
KALEY CUOCO Yes, it is very true. I have to give John Papsidera, our casting director in Los Angeles so much credit. The minute her name came up, there was no one else there for me – nor for any of us. I’m like, how can I reach this woman? A phone call is not enough. This is an icon. I have to get in front of his face and do whatever I can. We met for coffee in Brooklyn. She was wearing this terrifying hat and I couldn’t really see her face. It was such an immediate love for each other; I felt very comfortable begging her. And she said, “Well, I don’t really like to fly.” And I think, “Does she know it’s [a show] about a flight attendant? “
ROSIE PEREZ As the saying goes, she had me say hello. I was just playing cool. But the flying thing was really a problem. The last deciding factor was when we talked about the work ethic. We both have a very strong work ethic and a high appreciation that we can do this, that it’s our job. It makes a huge difference. Plus, the begging was hilarious.
What do you think of the unique friendship between your characters, Cassie and Megan?
FATHER I remember the second day we were touring together. You had that big smile on your face and you said, “I just looked at the dailies. I didn’t think our friendship was going to be like this. I really like what’s going on. And I was like, it’s fantastic because I was deliberately trying to do something very different and a little bit original. The good thing about Kaley is that whatever you throw at her, she’s got the racquet in her hand and she’s ready to hit the ball over the net right away. Episode eight was a huge turning point in our [characters’] relationship, even if it’s the end [of the season]. All the pretenses are gone and honesty just sits on this bed that [we were] sitting in that hotel room. For my character, I didn’t know I could be so real with Cassie, I didn’t know I could just be myself. I remember you said to yourself: “Don’t cry yet, we have to do the scene!”
CUOC She was already crying in rehearsal! It was actually Rosie’s last scene to shoot of the season. Going back a bit, I remember having had a hard time at the beginning, talking about the dailies, and that what was written on the page with these two characters was great. But once she and I got together, it was different. I love this friendship even though they are a bit high and low with each other and have had a hard time. There were just all of these nuances that I didn’t see on the page until they really came to life. It was so easy between the two of us.
On paper, The stewardess is not a comedy. And yet, the show manages to strike that fun, wacky tone. How did you experience this change when you started touring?
CUOC There was nothing funny in the book [by Chris Bohjalian], not a single line. It was very dark. I obviously loved it. I always have the impression that we found this tone all season. Fortunately, every actor that we have was so brilliant and able to dive into that. Yes, there were serious things going on, but each person had a way of doing something [where] you kind of laugh and you kind of smile. For almost every scene I did so many different takes because we didn’t know how we were going to edit that. Was this going to be the comedy scene? Was this going to be the one where we were crying? I just made sure there were as many options as possible because we were really finding [the tone] as we were going.
FATHER I didn’t feel safe in tone until episode eight.
CUOC Every actor at some point came up to me and they said, “What are we doing? Especially my sweet Michiel [Huisman, who plays Cassie’s deceased one-night-stand, Alex Sokolov] – he’s such an amazing dramatic actor. I remember after reading the table he said, “I didn’t know I was doing a comedy.” I think he was shocked at how funny it ended up being.
What gave you the idea to inject humor into the story?
CUOC I just thought it took lightness, I thought it took [what] I call some Cuoco-isms. I love to be funny, and while I love dark stuff and drama, Cassie is so interesting and responsive. I thought we should just have the world exploding around her and react to it. It’s kind of built up as I talked about it for a while. I had the book for so long and started talking to [executive producer Greg Berlanti]’s team, and like, what if it was a little darkly funny? I’ve never been backstage like this, and the team effort [means] there is no one who did that. It was a lot of opinions and a lot of help and a lot of editing.
Have you researched flight attendants to play them convincingly?
CUOC When I traveled I found myself looking at the flight attendants to see what they were doing. The key thing I always noticed was the way they took off their heels and lay flat [shoes] during a long flight. That, and how they took their breaks. They’re around chatting or reading a book or on their phones. They are like us!
FATHER I have a friend [whose] the best friend is a flight attendant and she’s the one in charge. I asked him, “What is the best part of your job? She said, “Go to all these places. I say “Yeah, alright, so what is it [really] the best part of your job? And she said, “Gossip. You don’t see everyone all the time and then you come back to the team and start chatting about it all.
CUOC Do flight attendants drink on the plane?
What surprised you about working together?
CUOC I expected to completely enjoy working with Rosie. I had no idea she would become such a good friend of mine. I mean you still hope [for] that when you work with someone, and I knew when I met her, we were going to get along well. [But] we really made a real friendship, which is amazing.
FATHER I was surprised too. I’m a bit socially awkward. I remember when I said to you, “You might not notice that I’m a little bit socially awkward,” you said, “I noticed. (Laugh.)
Looking ahead to season two, what aspects of your characters are you eager to explore?
CUOC I think for Cassie, you know, living a sober life. And I’m saying that in quotes because she’s going to pretty much lie to herself and everyone and think she’s okay now. She will find out very quickly that she is not. This is just his personal journey, because we all know that kind of journey is a lifelong journey. She just hasn’t figured that out yet. Of course, she’s going to get in trouble. Surprise Surprise.
FATHER I hope Megan will do her family accounts because she was wrong. She didn’t see the happiness she had, and the life she had, and it was all gone. And so I hope she will live with it. I know it sounds weird, but I hope it isn’t easy for her.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
This story first appeared in an August issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, Click here to subscribe.