Jennifer Coolidge On ‘White Lotus’ Season 2: “It’s Even More Complicated Than The First”

adds”I’m still Tanya,” The White Lotus star Jennifer Coolidge told Deadline today about the Sicily-set Season 2 of the Emmy-nominated series, “I’m still messed up.”

Coolidge received her first Primetime Emmy nomination of her career today, becoming one of five supporting actresses from the Mike White-created HBO limited series to notch one. She is the only cast member from Season 1 to reprise her role in White Lotus: Sicily, which she recently finished shooting.

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In Season 2, as previously reported, Coolidge’s wealthy but complicated Tanya McQuoid is traveling with her young employee, Portia (Haley Lu Richardson). The series shot at the San Domenico Palace, Taormina, a Four Seasons Hotel.

Coolidge told Deadline, that White Lotus: Sicily “feels completely different … almost like a different show.”

“It’s even more complicated than the first one,” the actress adds.

“He writes great roles for women,” said Coolidge about White. “I witnessed that over in Italy. It wasn’t just the scenes I was in but any scene I happened to be around for.”

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While White teased potential future storylines with other original White Lotus castmembers during production on the first season, Coolidge said she wasn’t aware of a Season 2 with Tanya until the series received a second season pickup.

The brand-new cast for White Lotus: Sicily also includes F. Murray Abraham, Michael Imperioli and Adam DiMarco, who play Bert Di Grasso, Dominic De Grasso and Elbie Di Grasso, respectively — an elderly man, his son and grandson traveling together. Tom Hollander plays Quentin, an English expat vacationing with his friends and his nephew. The new installment also features married couple Cameron and Daphne Babcock (Theo James and Meghann Fahy), who are vacationing with another couple, Ethan Spiller (Will Sharpe) and his wife, Harper (Aubrey Plaza). Leo Woodall is Jack, a magnetic guest staying at the White Lotus.

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Coolidge told us this afternoon that before White Lotus, she was originally set to do another series with White, The Tears of St. Patsy, which HBO passed on. That, too, was an eccentric role he had conceived for the American Pie actress and Groundlings alum.

A trip to Africa with Coolidge proved to be inspirational for White in the creation of Tanya.

“We were in the same tent on the Serengeti. He learned a lot of things about me on that trip. I don’t think I’m fully Tanya, but there were specific things about me that were eccentric, he put in there (the script),” Coolidge continued.

Initially, Coolidge wasn’t going to commit to The White Lotus. 

“We were still in Covid,” she said, “I had a friend talk me off the ledge. Talked me out of making the biggest mistake of my life.”

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“Mike called me up in New Orleans and said, ‘You have to be here in two weeks,’” she added. “Later when we were shooting, I had the revelation of what a cool part it was, how many different layers there were to play.”

“You wait your whole life for an opportunity, and you can blow it. That happens with people,” she says about almost passing on the part.

“He wrote a complicated person who was really quite damaged. A nice person mixed up with a girl who’d do anything to land a guy. Women do that a lot. They’re doing fine and some guy shows interest and they end up blowing off something cool for a possible mate.

“I have had people give me cool parts. When people think you’re capable of a lot of different aspects of a person, it’s truly the gift of a lifetime. For an actor to get a part like this; I got it twice. It’s unbelievable. I was standing under the lucky tree,” Coolidge said.

“If nothing ever happens after this, I think I’ll be alright, I’ll still be fulfilled.”

The White Lotus scored 20 noms, making it the second-most Emmy-nominated show this year after HBO’s Succession (25) and tying with AppleTV+’s Ted Lasso. Eight of those noms were for White Lotus actors. That figure was comprised of five supporting actress nods for a limited series including Connie Britton (Nicole Mossbacher), Alexandra Daddario (Rachel Patton), Natasha Rothwell (Belinda Lindsey) and Sydney Sweeney (Olivia Mossbacher) as well as three in supporting actor limited/anthology series including Steve Zahn (Mark Mossbacher), Jake Lacy (Shane Patton), and Murray Bartlett (Armond).

“What a great victory; what a great way to wake up,” beamed Coolidge. “All those people nominated are given great parts and recognition — it just goes to show what Mike knows.”

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