Spoiler Warning: Do not read ahead if you haven’t watched the episode, “Arrivederci.”
Jennifer Coolidge was as surprised as anyone by the season 2 ending of “The White Lotus”.
The actress didn’t see it coming when director Mike White told her they would be killing off her beloved character Tanya McQuoid.
“I wasn’t happy about it! But Mike White’s a genius — I knew my ending would be good. When he told me I was going to die, he didn’t have the ending yet, he hadn’t completely orchestrated it out,” she recalled in an interview with Variety. “I was kind of bummed, but Mike knows how to tell a story better than anyone I know, so I knew I just had to trust it. You can’t talk Mike White out of anything, so I’ll just have to go on some different adventures this year and maybe go visit Mike when they’re filming [Season 3].”
The ending saw her character successfully take down an entire cabal of “high-end gays” attempting to swindle her out of her fortune only to slip and fall out of the yacht, hitting her head on the way down. There was a ladder onscreen, but apparently her character didn’t notice which was all part of the hilarious but tragic way her tale ended.
READ MORE: ‘The White Lotus’ Creator Reveals Why He Killed Off That Major Character In Season 2
“Mike White thinks it’s very funny that I can handle big things, but a little thing will be my demise,” she explained. “Like, my technical inabilities with my phone or something will keep me from accomplishing something big. These small things throw me off. It was so in line with who I am — I even heard Mike say that to somebody. Not noticing something that could save my life.”
Coolidge said the obliviousness of Tanya’s character was something they took from the actress and incorporated into the character. It may have played an even bigger hand in her demise than causing her not to notice a ladder.
“Tanya’s a very damaged person, and a lot of times she isn’t nice, but she would never take someone’s life or anything. That kind of person who has no problem taking another person’s life — it’s very hard for a naïve, innocent person to conceive that idea in their head,” the actress answered in response to the question pf why Tanya took so long to notice the scam. “You hear people on a jury say, ‘The reason why I voted that he was innocent is I just don’t think anyone could take the life of their own child or kill their wife.’ Like, oh my God! They do it every day! Somewhere in the world, someone is doing that. It’s that sort of inability to believe something until you’re in way too deep, because the possibility of it is too hard for people to admit to themselves that there’s that type of evil in the world. No one wants to believe that.”
Despite the untimely end to her iconic character, the actress was extremely grateful for the role which gave her the first Emmy of her career.
READ MORE: ‘The White Lotus’ Season 3: What We Know About Who’s Returning And The New Location
“To be given this gift to act and do this very cool story. I know Mike White’s a genius and all that, but I never had the thought that ‘White Lotus’ was going to be a huge deal. I remember thinking, ‘This is good,’ but there’s a lot of good stuff on television that never gets any recognition,” recalled Coolidge. “I didn’t have any expectations, but it turned into this massive thing.”
After season 1’s massive success, she could never have predicted she would be returning for a second season.
“And staying on ‘White Lotus’ Season 2 — it was a life-changing thing. The offers! Whether I can take these projects or not, it doesn’t matter. I never thought I had a shot in hell at doing anything dramatic,” the actress continued. “Of course ‘White Lotus’ has comedy in there, but before that, the only dramatic role I had was something a long time ago with Nicolas Cage called ‘Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,’ and I don’t really know how many people saw that. ‘White Lotus’ has opened a world of opportunities, and Mike White will be my friend forever, of course.”