The second season of The White Lotus may be over but its lasting effect on pop culture as we know it today has only begun. Following the record high 4.1 million U.S. viewers its finale episode received back on December 11, the critically-acclaimed HBO/HBO Max series has already been renewed for a much-anticipated third season and remains a major hot topic all across social media.
The White Lotus season two had captivating performances from its sharp ensemble cast of multi-generational actors, but it is hard to argue that actress Jennifer Coolidge as the unpredictable heiress Tanya McQuoid has reigned as the fan-favorite personality over these past two seasons.
Coolidge, 61, recently sat down with me after filming the entirety of season two (season one took place and was filmed in Hawaii), as we discussed how her Tanya, of all characters, received a continuing story arc from the clever mind of The White Lotus creator Mike White on a brand new continent.
Recalling her initial phone call with White after season one about Tanya, Coolidge reveals, “He says, ‘Now, I’d like to take the next step of her relationship with [her husband] Greg and see where that goes in the story.’ I was like, ‘Okay.’ He goes, ‘We are going to shoot in Sicily.’ I was thrilled getting to tell the story over there.”
As much as Coolidge’s character Tanya had quite the adventure on-screen with The White Lotus, the longtime actress also had quite the memorable adventure off-screen in 2022, winning her first Emmy back on September 12 for her outstanding season one performance. Knowing that her Emmy acceptance speech was unfortunately cut short, I wondered if the Emmy winner might have anyone else she would like to thank that she did not get to say live on-stage during the Emmys telecast.
“Yes, many people – it would be about an hour and a half,” jokes Coolidge. “I’m glad you said that. You know who didn’t get – of course, you say everybody and who’s the last person I would thank? Mike White! If you end the whole monologue, you would end it with Mike White. I hope I get that chance sometime to just talk about Mike White – just about he sort of changed my life in an instant.”
When I playfully brought up that it was an instrumental version of the song “Hit the Road Jack” that ultimately played Coolidge off the stage on her big night earlier this year, she says with a laugh, “I’m going to get revenge! I’m going to have my Carrie moment.”
Without spoiling the end of The White Lotus season two and the fate of Coolidge’s character Tanya for anyone who has not watched it yet, another Emmy nomination seems almost imminent for this wildly in-demand Hollywood star after witnessing the hilarious yet shocking series of events of this past season.
As I began to conclude my conversation with Coolidge, she took a moment to reflect on her two seasons aboard The White Lotus, as she is able to see the silver lining within her character’s troubled life.
“I have to say, Mike told me that this next one would be quite an adventure,” continues Coolidge. “He said, ‘It’s going to be quite the roller coaster ride.’ It is the ride of a lifetime and I got to play this incredible part and play this very complicated, tortured person. You do see Tanya’s evolution. You see her as best as someone like that could be, who is so limited in so many ways. A small thing is a big deal for someone who’s that self-obsessed and damaged. Sometimes, that little thing is just a huge victory.”
As for that ending everyone is still talking about, Coolidge is getting the final word, sharing with me the message she as Tanya would say to her “aloof” on-screen husband Greg after everything that has happened over these two seasons – “You’ve made a terrible mistake!”