For Kaley Cuoco, filming The Flight Attendant Season 2 was "one of the hardest years of [her] life."
In a new interview with Variety, Cuoco opened up about her personal struggles and revealed how they played out on screen.
"It was the first time that I started therapy — I've been very open about that," said Cuoco. "I started at the beginning of Season 2, just because I was going through so much right before we started shooting. It was horrible. And I developed a stress rash that ran all the way down my body for three straight months that wouldn't go away. I literally, like, had fire on my leg for three months. I could barely walk."
While filming Season 2 of The Flight Attendant, Cuoco was going through a divorce from Karl Cook. "It was really a super dark time," she said.
"Zosia [Mamet], my co-star, moved in with me," Cuoco added. "I really needed someone with me. I was really losing my mind. And then so many of these scenes were so hard to do because they were so hateful, so sad, and so dark, and there wasn't a lot of levity."
Mamet was staying in an AirBnb at the time, and when it lapsed, Cuoco invited her into her home. "It was the loneliest I've ever felt, and I am not really someone to share that," said the actress.
Cuoco also described staging an "intervention" for herself.
"One month in, I had an intervention on myself in my trailer — all my producers were in there," she said. "And I said, 'I need help.' It was interesting to say that out loud. And to have everyone be like, 'Yes, we want to help!' I'm a working woman, and so independent, and I really take pride in being able to do everything. Well, this time, I literally couldn't."
Cuoco continued, "I was throwing myself into work to deny my depression, and how upset I was. Unfortunately, the character was so depressed that it wasn't helping me! I was really, really, really struggling. A lot of tears."
She described filming Season 2, Episode 5, during which director Pete Chapman asked her how she wanted to shoot an emotional scene that takes place on the beach. She asked him if he could put cameras on the beach "and just start rolling."
"And for two hours, I just cried," said Cuoco. "Like, I screamed, I cried, I sat there, I was quiet. I lay down; I stood up. I mean, it was amazing. Who gets to have that opportunity?"
For many of the more emotional scenes, said Cuoco, she knew she would be "a mess."
"Like even reading that it was, like, oh my God — I couldn't even run the lines," she said of a scene she filmed with Sharon Stone. "Because I would just be crying for hours. I was so connected to this, and obviously dealing with so much."
Cuoco added, "The trauma I was going through probably helped whatever I needed to do for this season. Did I mean for that to happen? Oh my God, no. Did I want that to happen? No. It was so life-imitating-art at certain moments that it was eerie. I truly feel like the pain I was going through, a lot of that was real on camera. The scene where I break up with Marco — I mean, I could not breathe. I just went in the bathroom, and I literally thought I was going to have a panic attack. Not that what happened to them happened to us. That's not what I'm saying. It was just the whole idea of the breakup, and saying the words."
Today, though, Cuoco is feeling "so much better," she said, adding, "Everyone kept saying there's going to be a light at the end of this tunnel, and I didn't believe it until it happened. And now I can tell other people that have the worst years of their life: It's gonna get better."
The Flight Attendant is available to stream on HBO Max.
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Deena ElGenaidi's writing has been featured in Nylon, MTV News, Insider, The AV Club, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @deenaelg.