Last season we found out that Rosie Perez’s Megan Briscoe had been selling her husband’s company secrets to North Korea. As a result, there’s now a $500,000 bounty on her. Luckily for her, bounty duo Esteban and Gabrielle Diaz have confused the women with her flight attendant Cassie (Kaley Cuoco).
In addition to Megan, Season 2 also follows Cassie and Shane Evans’ frantic friendship while adding new flight attendant peer – Mae Martin’s character Grace St. James – into the drama. During this interview, the trio discuss their excitement for this new season and details on their characters.
Q: The first season of the show was a huge success – did you have any idea it would get the response it did?
Griffin Matthews: No, I did not know it would be so well received because we were shooting in the pandemic and we finished in the pandemic. I think people loved the show because it premiered while we were in lockdown and it allowed us and the audience to escape into the world of travel which we couldn’t do. With the thriller, the murder, the mystery and all of the locations, it felt like an amazing escape.
Rosie Perez: I knew it was going to be a success. Sometimes you have a great experience on set and it turns out terribly; sometimes you have a terrible experience on set and it turns out wonderfully. This was a blessing. Even the first scene I had with Kaley I said, ‘oh my god, you’re going to be so good in this,’ and she started crying and I said, ‘I didn’t mean to make you cry, it’s just this is going to be really good.’ Halfway through filming I said, ‘Kaley, be prepared, this is going to be a big hit.’ I sensed it right away. Everyone was on point. Everyone was gelling in the right way and there wasn’t a lot of phoney politeness. Everyone was working really hard and the material was good. So I knew it was going to be a hit but I also knew it was going to be a mega hit because of the pandemic.
Q: What’s it like going into a second season on something that was so successful?
GM: It felt like a responsibility to forget about season one and not ride on its coattails. I felt like we had to win the audience again. I still feel that way. You don’t want to get too cocky. I thought the change of location and change of casting added energy and brought new life to our show, it was like we literally started over. On day one, when we met the new cast members, I was like, ‘I’ve never met you before and I don’t know what you’re going to do on this show. Here we go!’ It was like, hold hands and leap. I think it was a good thing for us.
RP: I felt a little bit differently because I had just finished another TV series and literally got off a plane and had to work. I had a lot of anxiety because my body wasn’t done with the other character and I had to fall back into Megan and find her again, so I felt a lot of pressure. I also felt the pressure of not resting on your laurels. You always have to please the audience and work for the audience to make sure it’s a good product so I was very apprehensive. I didn’t calm down until the second week of shooting when we were all together again and I felt that same sense of family. It was like, ‘we’re back home’. It was really nice.
Q: Rosie, what helped you find Megan again?
RP: With Megan it’s difficult because her storyline is so heavy and emotional. In season one, she made a huge mistake and had to run out on her family and her son; her whole life just changed. Now, in season two, here she is in a foreign country on the run and people are trying to kill her. It was hard to find the Megan that I left in season one and try to discover what had happened to her in over a year.
Q: Did you have any say in her journey?
RP: The show runners met with me prior to writing the script – as they did with a lot of the characters from season one – and said, ‘this is what we’re thinking, what do you think?’ It was very involved and I really appreciated that. There were two scenes I actually asked them to rewrite. One of the scenes is when Megan sees her husband again for the first time. I said, ‘this is not how a couple fights. You’re making it too easy and why is it all about the husband?’ So they put that in the script. It takes two to make a relationship and it takes two to break a relationship so the demise of this marriage can’t just be Megan’s mistake. There has to be two people at fault and I said, ‘I think you need to address that,’ because you have to give that to women. And men. You have to give that to couples whether they’re gay or straight or bi or whatever. Human beings are flawed and when there is a coupling – even in a friendship – things happen and it’s not just one sided.
Q: Griffin, what’s in store for Shane and how did you feel when you read the script?
GM: Strangely enough when I got the first scripts I kind of panicked a little because I felt like Shane had switched positions. In season one he’s friends with Cassie on the plane. I know he had a secret but he didn’t play the secret. For eight episodes, I played the funny friend. This season, however, I kept saying to my husband, ‘I feel like I’m on Law and Order. All of a sudden I have a position. Am I in a suit? What’s happening?!’ So trying to find humour inside those very serious high stakes moments was the challenge for me. It was like, can I be old Shane? Or do I need to be brand new Shane?
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Q: How did you get to grips with that?
GM: I had a lot of conversations behind the scenes about people who are in the CIA. Their families and friends don’t always know they’re in the CIA. They are showing people different lives and different things. So I was working this season with the idea of having a double life now the audience knows. Last season I was very light and I think this season I have to hold a different weight. I hope I did it.
RP: I want to give Griffin credit as well as the executive producers and HBO Max because usually people who are minority – we’re not minority we’re majority but they call us minorities – play the best friend. Whether it’s because of our nationality, ethnicity or gender of choice, we’re always the side kick or the comic relief. The phenomenon of The Flight Attendant, outside of Kaley Cuoco’s stellar performance and the great writing, is that they allow people of colour or different gender preferences to be human beings; to be whole persons. Griffin said [to the show runners] ‘who is my character outside of his friendship with Cassie?’ and they wrote him a whole background. It’s important for people of colour and minorities in this industry to fight for what you deserve and fight for your character because that’s the only way things are going to change.
Q: Mae, what appealed to you about the show and how did you come to be involved?
MM: I binged the first season with my mum in a day or two and loved it so much. I think one of the producers had seen a show I’d made called Feel Good and thought they were tonally similar in an interesting way, even though they’re different, so I auditioned for it.
Q: What was it like joining the second season of an established show?
MM: The nightmare of joining a show that you’re a fan of already! What if the reviews are like, ‘the second season’s great but why is that person in it?’ Watching it, I hope it doesn’t stand out that I’m this fan that won a competition. Kaley was amazing and made me feel very welcome. We laughed a lot.
Q: What can you tell us about your character, flight attendant, Grace St James?
MM: Like a lot of characters in the show she is grappling with the conflict between who she wants to be and who she is in the situation that she finds herself in. I think at the heart of it she really likes Cassie and they have a genuine friendship and connection and if it wasn’t for all the chaos in their lives you get the sense there’d be a vibe there…
Q: Did you have any input into the character?
MM: They really let me make the character my own, make some changes and be an advocate [Mae is non-binary]. They made me a special flight attendant uniform so I wouldn’t have to wear a dress which was great. There were a few dialogue tweaks to do with the character’s sexual history and there’s a line where I refer to myself as a ‘fairy godmother’ and I was like, ‘can I say fairy godperson?’ because that’s quite funny anyway. Things like that made it a really comfortable and fun experience.
Q: The show looks like a lot of fun to film – any highlights from this season?
MM: I’m desperate to see bloopers. I live for bloopers!
GM: There is a lot of laughter on our show. When they yell, ‘cut,’ we go back into our lives. On some sets, if the lead of the show needs to stay in character it can be a little hard but Kaley goes in and out. She’ll be crying and then it’s ‘cut’ and she’ll be like, ‘what are we eating for lunch?’ So that actually is great because I feel like when you’re working really long hours it’s nice when everyone can come in and out of character and not feel like we have to stay inside of the emotional drama.
Images by HBO GO. Catch “The Flight Attendant” Season 2 only on HBO GO.
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