‘The Flight Attendant’ Stars Kaley Cuoco and Zosia Mamet on Upping the Ante of Season 2: “Everything About It Was Tenfold”
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 show follows Cassie Bowden, a flight attendant, as she becomes an asset to the CIA. However, she soon discovers that a woman pretending her is causing havoc all over the world.
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 much higher. It felt like the entire season was bigger than season 1.
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 experiencing intense inner turmoil. But, really, everyone is going through their own thing.
Your characters are more vulnerable this season. How did you get to that place?
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. It felt like I was all one person. Whether Cassie was upset or Kaley was, it was all becoming one thing. It was an accident that everything was happening at the same time in my life. This was not a set-up thing. It was a good solution for what I needed, but it was not a nightmare to do. It’s not something I would recommend.
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. That would be a lie.
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 oatmeal milk available? But I think we are both players. We both just show up and go, and are so happy to play. We were fortunate to be on a set that allowed us to do this, but I don’t 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 strange season, where everyone seemed to be going through something. It was very ambitious. It took many days. They were difficult. I don’t think there’s any one day in particular that I can point to and be like, that day. It was a difficult shoot.
CUOCO It was definitely a tough shoot. My breakup with Marco [played by Santiago Cabrera]. was the most difficult moment of my shoot. It felt too real. It was too much too quickly. I was in a complete meltdown. It was not fun at all. It was not enjoyable. Because I think it was me being me! 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 off a little pink cloudy, but it quickly gets dark. Because I knew how dark it would get, I was trying to find comedy moments and remind everyone that this is still comedy. It’s difficult to remember, isn’t it? It was worth it, I think.
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 good mood. We were in a different level. [laughing]. was impossible to stop.
MAMET In between takes, we were lying on the bed in the guest room in the bungalow set. I don’t remember what, [but] literally everyone at the set wanted to kill us. We were like two 12-year-old girls, losing our minds, crying so hard. Kaley was just writing stupid —
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 hate 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 others’ decompression. We helped each other tremendously, [Zosia] probably more than anything, but it was just so cool. This was something I have never experienced before. I have never lived with [a female friend before], and then gone to work alongside them. It was a rare experience to have such a close friendship.
MAMET Neither of us went to college and we never had roommates. We moved from living alone to living together. We used to joke with our castmates that we were living in a fraternity. People were able to understand that we were sharing a trailer. You love each other.” Our friendship blossomed even deeper than it had before. Although it sounds cliché and cliche, we laugh so much.
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 this season than last. Talk to me about logistics.
CUOCO It was a very new process for me. I had many acting and body doubles. Without the help of my entire group, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. It was hilarious, there were so many Cassies around, it was hard to tell who was who. It was definitely a painful process that I won’t be repeating. As an actor, I am very present and like to play. Motion capture is the exact opposite. You can’t play, you have to do what you’re doing. You must mimic your next self, then my second is having to do the same thing. It didn’t make sense to me. It looked like I was looking at her. It was a huge team effort. I’m not going to do it again. I do know how to do this 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. I was a little confused when they went to Iceland. I’ll do it at a daily rate. Please!”
CUOCO Iceland was incredible. It was one of my most memorable experiences as a human. It was the height COVID, and I was worried about the trip. We were like, “Are you crazy?” It was December. This was a crazy choice. It was one, because Zosia and I are Christmas elf Christmas elves, and it feels almost like Christmas was thrown up in Iceland during December. It’s magical!
MAMET I would get voice notes and videos and photos every day. I thought it was cool. This is fantastic. 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.