Jennifer Coolidge made headlines (and broke hearts) during her time as Tanya McQuoid, lovelorn heiress, on "The White Lotus." An Emmy win and many "White Lotus" theories later, Tanya is a downright TV legend.
And to think: It almost didn't happen. During an interview conducted earlier this year with TODAY, Coolidge revealed that she almost didn't take on the role of Tanya on "The White Lotus," saying she didn't feel like she was "in shape" for the part.
"It's a miracle. I almost messed it up for myself," Coolidge said on TODAY back in February. "I was too vain, I didn't want to go on camera because I sort of destroyed myself during COVID and didn't feel like I was in shape for it."
The first season of "The White Lotus," which place at a luxury report in Maui, was filmed in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to People this September, Coolidge explained that she had gained weight during the pandemic thanks to a combination of "lonely times" and "vegan pizza."
"It was COVID, (I was) locked up with this very nice girl that I knew in New Orleans," Coolidge told People. "It was just very lonely times ... and so she and I got obsessed with these vegan pizzas and we were eating a lot of them each day."
"The number kept increasing," she continued. "You can sort of numb out any worry you have in the world if you just eat another pizza."
So when the show's creator, Mike White, told Coolidge about the role, she said she would do it — if they could start filming at a later date. White responded and said they were going to Hawaii and filming at the Four Seasons, and that they had to do it now.
"I stupidly almost gave it up and my girlfriend talked me out of it — thank God," Coolidge said on TODAY.
Speaking to The Guardian in 2021, Coolidge zeroed in on what she was thinking during this crossroads.
"Mike texted me at 2 a.m. one night and it just said: 'Are you afraid?' It was like he could read my mind and sensed that I was trying to get out of it. 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," she said.
Coolidge speaking to The Guardian, saw a "lesson" in what happened. "It’s such a great lesson in life. I’d never have forgiven myself. 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," she said.
Coolidge won an Emmy award for Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series for her performance on Season One.
During her acceptance speech at the Emmys, Coolidge delighted audiences when she began to dance to the outro music, meant to be a signal for her to wrap up her speech. “Hold on,” she begged the musicians. “No, this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing and I’m full. I’m full!”
Fans were enamored with the show's second season, this time set in Sicily with an entirely new slate of actors, except for Coolidge and her character's new husband, Greg (Jon Gries).
"This award thing is very weird, and is a huge surprise," Coolidge told TODAY. "I mean I'm thrilled, but wow, what an unexpected moment in my life, really."