Spoiler alert! The following contains details from the Season 2 finale of "The Flight Attendant," now streaming on HBO Max.
Kaley Cuoco is finding a happy ending, on screen and off.
She started filming the sophomore season of HBO Max’s quirky thriller comedy “The Flight Attendant,” which concluded Thursday, shortly after the end of a three-year marriage to her second husband, equestrian Karl Cook. (Cuoco was previously married to former pro tennis player Ryan Sweeting from 2013-2016.) And with just four days left of shooting, Cuoco was devastated by her COVID-19 diagnosis. “I just wanted to die,” she remembers. “I was so sad and so depressed because I'd come so far.”
On screen, Cuoco’s Cassie Bowden, now a CIA civilian asset doubling as a flight attendant, battled two barmy blondes: CIA regional director Dot Karlson (Cheryl Hines), who tried to pin several murders on Cassie, and Jenny (Jessie Ennis) a woman so devoted to Buckley Ware, aka Feliks (Colin Woodell) from Season 1, that she was willing to kill Cassie to win the imprisoned Feliks’ affection.
Dot wanted “ultimate power,” Cuoco says, and to be viewed as the hero for taking Cassie down.
“That job that she has is a really big deal, and being a woman in any sort of position like that can be very difficult,” Cuoco says. “You just don't get taken seriously, which is why I loved this female role. I love that it was the woman who was the bad guy. That stuff makes me happy because women do bad (stuff), too.”
As for Jenny’s surprising backstory, Cuoco says she requested "one more weird thing,” to throw viewers.
Cassie escaped from both villains and even made amends with her mom, Lisa Bowden, portrayed by an apparently slap-happy Sharon Stone. (More on that below.)
And in real life, Cuoco's in an Instagram-official relationship with actor Tom Pelphrey, 39, whom she hails as “the love of my life.”
Cuoco, 36, reveals the likelihood of a third "Flight Attendant" installment, her "love at first sight" meeting with the former daytime soap actor Pelphrey and why she's finally striving for work-life balance. (Edited for length and clarity.)
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Question: I understand that the slap Sharon Stone gave you in Episode 6 was not scripted. What was shooting that scene like?
Kaley Cuoco: I do stuff that is not written, and (my co-stars) are surprised in the moment. So that was now me on the other end. It was so real and so shocking. It was all Sharon, and the scene ended up being incredible. I could not believe that she whacked me across the face. And then I later, I was like, "You guys, did I get (expletive)-slapped by Sharon Stone?"... What a great story I have for the rest of my life.
Q: There are some physical scenes this season. Did you sustain any injuries?
Cuoco: I did not sustain physical injuries. If we're going to get dark and serious right now, my emotional state of mind was really not in a good place. This whole season was pretty difficult. I was so stressed out because of my personal life, what was going on and then trying to uphold the show, and the stress of like, "Is this gonna be good? Am I crazy?" I ended up developing this stress rash that ran down my stomach, down my leg for about 3 ½ months. Every time I would get heated, whether it was Kaley getting heated or Cassie, it would flare.
Q: You really leaned on your co-star Zosia Mamet (who plays Cassie's attorney friend Annie Mouradian) this season. How was she there for you?
Cuoco: She stayed with me for months. It was so helpful, just to have a friend here with me because there were a lot of rough nights. That girl came in on her days off to have lunch with me and to sit with me. There were mornings where I would text her from my bed and be like, "I don't know how I'm getting up today." But Zosia would come into my room, she's pulling me out of bed, literally standing with me while I brush my teeth. I don't think I would have been able to get to work half the time. She really saved me, and we became so close.
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Q: Annie and Max (Deniz Akdeniz) marry in the finale. When Annie tosses Cassie her bouquet, Cassie makes no attempt to catch the arrangement and lets it hit the floor. Do you share Cassie's sentiments or would you be interested in getting married again?
Cuoco: I'm really not interested in getting married again. I did happen to meet the love of my life recently, and I'm so happy and I feel like I'm at a different place than I was even a month ago. I talk about this a lot with Tom, who's totally changed me. I don't even look at him and say, "Where have you been all my life? Why didn't I meet you sooner?" I don't wish that, and he doesn't either because I had to go through a lot of (stuff) and really look at myself in the mirror and the things that I have (messed up) over my past 10 years that I haven't dealt with.
I've been doing so much work on myself, and then all of a sudden this gift was in front of me, and I'm just at another phase in my life where I want to have a deep partnership. And it hits you like a wave and you're like, "Whoa, I've never had that." I've never gone deep enough. I've never faced my own issues the way that I have this past year. In the last nine months, I've done a complete 180. I don't think this relationship would be what it is if I didn't go through all of that.
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Q: When you say a "complete 180," how have you changed?
Cuoco: It's weird. Shooting this show, alongside a character who's literally trying to run away from her problems and push things under the rug and be Little Miss Perfect and not admit to the issues that we have, I realized I just never faced things. There were traumas in my life that go back so far that I have managed to stick in a closet and not look at. I realized I was doing things so wrong. I'm so career-oriented that a lot of things fell to the back. I thought I was doing the right thing: "I'm a working woman." I take pride in that sort of stuff. But it's time for me to find some balance in my life. I have never said the words, "I want to take the rest of the year off." I'm ready to settle for a minute and find my place as a human in a normal life.
Q: I'm excited to see you happy in your personal life. Is there anything you want to share about your new relationship, like how you met?
Cuoco: We have the same manager (Andrea Pett-Joseph), and we were set up by (her), which is so Hollywood (laughs). She's like, "Oh my God, I think you guys are perfect for each other." We met at the "Ozark" premiere (in April), and I was standing with Andrea and Tom walked in, and I heard his voice, and I turned around, and it was like my life was over, or just starting. It hit me. It was love at first sight. We were immediately connected. I do feel like I've known him my whole life, but I wasn't ready for him. We're ready to build a life together.
Q: You've talked about being married to your work, and now you're talking about being able to take time off. How has your relationship with work changed?
Cuoco: I've never really taken a vacation. And by the way, that's by choice. I just love to work. On a vacation, I'm on my phone the whole time.(Work is) now not the most important thing. I leave July 1; I'm shooting a film called "Role Play." David Oyelowo is going to be playing my husband, and I'm so excited. But that's going to be in Berlin for three months. I want to come home after that and take the rest of the year off and support Tom and what he's shooting and actually be there for someone else, not just myself.
Q: Would you want to do a third season of "The Flight Attendant?" Where would you like to see Cassie? And how many bad things can happen to this woman?
Cuoco: (Laughs.) That's my point. It's like, where does it go? My biggest fear is I'm a CIA agent. That's not the show I wanted to make, and it feels that's how she goes. There are a lot of characters that I feel like could have much stronger storylines in a Season 3, but what is Cassie gonna do? The most interesting part of Cassie is her sobriety journey, and what that looks like for her because it is a lifelong journey. So obviously, her life is going to be constantly that push and pull of drinking, which leads you into a lot of problems. I have a little too much PTSD right now. But maybe if we talk about this in a year, I'd be open to a Season 3.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kaley Cuoco on Flight Attendant finale, 'love of my life' Tom Pelphrey