The Flight Attendant's Kaley Cuoco Became A More Disciplined Actor To Play So Many Versions Of Cassie

One of the most entertaining things to come out of the 2020 lockdown was the HBO Max series "The Flight Attendant." Starring Kaley Cuoco as the eponymous flight attendant who gets caught up in a vast murder-mystery, much of the show's appeal came from Cuoco's strong acting and her easy chemistry with co-star Michael Huisman, whose Alex Sokolov ends up dying in the very first episode after spending a drunken and horny night with Cuoco's Cassie Bowden. Despite that little complication, Huisman returns throughout the rest of the season as a projected manifestation of Cassie's PTSD, giving rise to several enjoyable sequences that take place inside our main character's mind. So with the second season nearly here and Cassie set up to continue her adventures as a CIA asset, the question now is how the next go-around can manage to one-up the soap opera-esque antics of the first season.

The answer, as it turns out, meant doubling down on Kaley Cuoco. Season 2 of "The Flight Attendant" (which I reviewed here) begins with Cassie seeming to be in an better headspace than in season 1, living it up in Los Angeles and balancing her ever-present journey to sobriety with both of her jobs — one far more secret than the other. But once she finds herself in the middle of yet another dangerous tale of espionage, our first experience back in Cassie's mind sees her confronted by ... another Cassie. Throughout the rest of the season, even more versions of Cassie — some of which are idealistic projections of what she could be if she chooses to do the right thing, others more pessimistic reflections of a darker path — end up joining the fray, pitting Cuoco against multiple other Cuocos in a performer's showcase reminiscent of Tatiana Maslany's many roles in "Orphan Black." One look at the early episodes proves that Cuoco clearly relished the opportunity.

Of course, this fresh addition also meant that the actor faced challenges that she hadn't faced before on the last season or even anything else she's worked on previously. The key, apparently, involved taking on a much more "disciplined" approach than she was otherwise used to.

Seeing double(s)

Movies and shows have been pitting actors against themselves on the same screen for decades, but a truly well-executed sequence where you can't even see the seams still manages to floor me. That's the magic of camerawork, performing, and editing, folks! Season 2 of "The Flight Attendant" gets tremendous mileage out of what could've been little more than a gimmick, staging several scenes with multiple characters where the only actual actor on-screen happens to be Kaley Cuoco and using them to emotionally devastating effect. In a recent interview with Collider, the actor opened up about what it was like to bring all these different versions of herself to life. After explaining how much of an adjustment it was for the otherwise "incredibly reactive" performer to be unable to improvise or play off another actor, Cuoco went on to say:

"I had to be much more disciplined in the things that I said, my movements, my eye line, and my timing. Oh, my God, if I missed by a second, it wasn't like anyone could work around that. We had to start all over. It was a domino effect. I learned that quickly."

Having seen the first handful of episodes, the finished product flawlessly integrates all these moving parts into one convincing spectacle. For those who've been following along, the story has felt like it was building up to a natural confrontation between Cassie and the worst parts of herself, and season 2 largely pulls this off with panache. Comparisons to other shows like "Orphan Black" will inevitably arise, which is only fitting as Cuoco admits that she actually consulted with people who worked on that show. As she puts it later in the same interview:

"We actually had a lot of conversations with the team behind 'Orphan Black.' They really helped us. They were a great source because we used the same system that they did. It was very interesting, and very unique and different."

When it comes to depicting multiple doubles on-screen at the same time, it would seem that the maxim of not fixing what isn't broken ended up paying dividends for the creative team behind "The Flight Attendant." For Kaley Cuoco specifically, all her efforts certainly paid off.

The first two episodes of "The Flight Attendant" season 2 will premiere on HBO Max on April 21, 2022.