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Jennifer Coolidge nearly turned down White Lotus because she had been ‘gorging’ on pizza & ice cream


Jennifer Coolidge is earning rave reviews for her portrayal of grieving hotel guest Tanya in HBO’s hit show White Lotus, but the actress admits that she was incredibly close to turning down the role due to weight she’d gained in a ‘feeding frenzy’ during the pandemic.

Coolidge, 59, told Vogue this week that she was on ‘a real self-destructive ride’ during lockdown, eating pizza and ice cream all day — and she was so unhappy with how she looked that she seriously considering not signing on to the White Lotus cast.

‘I was just like, I can’t possibly go on camera looking like this,’ she said. ‘I really was so close to not doing it.’

Star power: Jennifer Coolidge is earning rave reviews for her portrayal of grieving hotel guest Tanya in HBO’s hit show White Lotus

Surprise: But the actress admits that she was incredibly close to turning down the role due to weight she'd gained in a 'feeding frenzy' during the pandemic

Surprise: But the actress admits that she was incredibly close to turning down the role due to weight she’d gained in a ‘feeding frenzy’ during the pandemic

Coolidge, like so many people, put on some pounds during the pandemic.

‘I’d been on a real self-destructive ride in my house in New Orleans, just eating three or four pizzas and ice cream sandwiches all day long,’ she recalled.

‘I was just on this feeding frenzy. I had this fatalistic view of what was going to happen with COVID, and I thought we were 100 per cent doomed, all of us. I thought we would all perish. I was just going for it,’ she said.

Speaking to the Guardian last week, Coolidge added that the pandemic ‘really affected’ her, revealing that a family member died of COVID and they weren’t able to hold a proper memorial.

‘It was an incredibly sad time. 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,’ she said.

She said it was director Mike White who eventually had her ‘dragged kicking and screaming’ to set, telling her that he wrote the role of Tanya with her in mind.

'I’d been on a real self-destructive ride in my house in New Orleans, just eating three or four pizzas and ice cream sandwiches all day long,' she said

‘I’d been on a real self-destructive ride in my house in New Orleans, just eating three or four pizzas and ice cream sandwiches all day long,’ she said

'I was just on this feeding frenzy. I had this fatalistic view of what was going to happen with COVID, and I thought we were 100% doomed, all of us,' she said. 'I was just going for it'

Coolidge added that the pandemic 'really affected' her, revealing that a family member died of COVID and they weren't able to hold a proper memorial

‘I was just on this feeding frenzy. I had this fatalistic view of what was going to happen with COVID, and I thought we were 100% doomed, all of us,’ she said. ‘I was just going for it’

'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,' she said

‘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,’ she said

‘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,’ she said.  

‘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 f***ing way.’ 

White Lotus began eight weeks of filming at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea in Hawaii in late October of 2020. Coolidge’s last public appearance had been in April 2020, and she’d mostly refrained from posting on social media.

Then, one night at 2 a.m. when she was home in bed in New Orleans, the director sent her a text message asking, ‘Are you afraid?’

‘Maybe he felt through the airwaves I was trying to get out of it,’ she said. 

Ready for her closeup! White Lotus began eight weeks of filming in Hawaii in late October of 2020. Coolidge's last public appearance had been in April 2020 (pictured July 2021)

Ready for her closeup! White Lotus began eight weeks of filming in Hawaii in late October of 2020. Coolidge’s last public appearance had been in April 2020 (pictured July 2021)

Attitude: Ultimately, she said, it taught her 'a great lesson' about not letting her insecurities stop her from going after things

Attitude: Ultimately, she said, it taught her ‘a great lesson’ about not letting her insecurities stop her from going after things

‘It was like he could read my mind,’ she went on. 

‘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.’

Ultimately, she said, it taught her ‘a great lesson’ about not letting her insecurities stop her from going after things.

‘I’d never have forgiven myself,’ she said. ‘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.’ 

Coolidge stayed in Hawaii for months after filming, and even conducted several Zoom interviews to promote Promising Young Woman from the Aloha State. 

She said she loved vacationing there and had a lot of ‘crazy’ experiences there over the years, even sharing one from several years ago.

Coolidge stayed in Hawaii for months after filming, and even conducted several Zoom interviews to promote Promising Young Woman from the Aloha State (pictured in Februarya)

'When you come and you're on vacation alone, you can kind of create anything you want,' Jennifer said

Coolidge stayed in Hawaii for months after filming, and even conducted several Zoom interviews to promote Promising Young Woman from the Aloha State (pictured in Februarya) 

‘When you come and you’re on vacation alone, you can kind of create anything you want,’ Jennifer said. 

‘I ended up meeting these two guys that were best friends, and I liked them both, and so I told them that I had an identical twin, and I dated both guys. For two weeks.’

While Jennifer managed to pull off the stunt without any issues, the actress admitted that she likely wouldn’t feel brave enough to pull the same stunt again.  

‘I don’t know if I would have the guts to do that now, but at the time, it was really was sort of a great decision because when you’re younger, you just get away with anything,’ she said. 



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