Before last week, Kaley Cuoco had never received an individual acting nomination from either the Golden Globe Awards or Screen Actors Guild Awards despite years of popular and widely praised work on “The Big Bang Theory.”
“I don’t want to say it’s never been a goal but I don’t feel like I’ve been a part of that conversation and I’ve been fine with it,” she tells Gold Derby in a new interview.
But over the span of just 27 hours, Cuoco found herself firmly entrenched in the 2021 awards discussion thanks to her critically acclaimed performance on “The Flight Attendant.” Cuoco was nominated in the Best Actress comedy categories at both the Golden Globes and SAG Awards, while the HBO Max series itself — which she also executive produced via her production company, Yes Norman — was singled out among the best comedy series nominees by the Globes and best ensemble nominees by the Screen Actors Guild.
“The Globes was a dream but SAG, to have the recognition from your peers, it really feels like once in a lifetime,” she says.
“The Flight Attendant” debuted on HBO Max in November with the kind of critical and fan response that made it one of the fledgling streaming platform’s first watercooler shows. Based on the book by Chris Bohjalian, the series focuses on Cassie Bowden (Cuoco), the flight attendant of the title, who becomes involved in a broad conspiracy after waking up next to the dead body of a passenger she bonded with on her latest international flight. Over the course of the first season, Cassie confronts not just hired assassins and hidden agendas but her own traumatic childhood memories and substance abuse issues. Cuoco excels in the role, blending her well-honed comedic timing with moments of deep emotional breakthroughs — often within the same scene. It’s a performance she at least partially credits to her responsibilities as an executive producer on “The Flight Attendant,” a job that required her to wear many hats on the set and throughout production.
“It was interesting because I’ve never been in an editing bay. In all my years as an actor, I’m sad I started this late on this side of things,” she says. “I do feel like my head was in the sand. As an actor, knowing how we were going to cut things, it did tweak and change how I did things.”
Cuoco is an outlier at the SAG Awards in her category, the only nominee not to star on either “Schitt’s Creek” (Catherine O’Hara and Annie Murphy) or “Dead to Me” (Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini). But she’s excited to be in such company, especially O’Hara — whom Cuoco is also nominated against at the Golden Globe Awards.
“Catherine O’Hara, her show got me through shooting my show,” she says. Like so many others, Cuoco was a latecomer to the “Schitt’s Creek” phenomenon, but when she watched it on the set of “The Flight Attendant” it struck a chord. “I found it later, and she literally got me through the longest nights,” she says of the show, which Cuoco watched while “The Flight Attendant” shot in Thailand. “I would watch her show in between takes and laugh and laugh. To be next to her, I truly feel like I already won.”
As for season 2 of “The Flight Attendant,” Cuoco said the writers’ room has opened and her goal is to begin shooting the eight episodes later this year. But after hopping around the world for season 1, she did have one request.
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