NEW YORK, NEW YORK – FEBRUARY 10: Zosia Mamet attends the front row for Carolina Herrera during New York Fashion Week on February 10, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
  • Interviews

Zosia Mamet on “The Flight Attendant”

line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>Zosia Mamet, the daughter of playwright David Mamet, rose to fame with her role as the bubbly Shoshanna in the Globe-winning series Girls"Times New Roman"’> a character not too far off from her new role as Annie in HBO’s The Flight Attendant. Mamet plays Cassie’s (Kaley Cuoco) best friend and gritty lawyer who helps her fend off the FBI as Cassie tries to figure out who killed Alex (Michiel Huisman), her one-night stand in Bangkok. We spoke to the actress about her new role and what it was like shooting the series line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>

14.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>What was it like to be shooting The Flight Attendant under COVID restrictions?

line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>We were very lucky to be working. We were actually the first production back up in New York, which was kind of scary and exciting all at the same time. I think we were very lucky because we had already shot five episodes of our eight-episode series before lockdown happened, and we all knew each other super-well already. So I would say the general vibe of our set didn’t necessarily change, there were just a lot of extra steps in place that weren’t there before. But surprisingly, we still shot very fast because things were escalated, and they had to be done very specifically and efficiently.

14.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>What were the extra steps?

line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>We were all tested three times a week, and everyone was wearing full PPE or masks. You also couldn’t touch anyone. So there was an element of the intimacy of what we do which was stifled a bit, just because it had to be for safety reasons. But I think, because we had already created these relationships, it allowed us to still feel that intimacy because it preexisted these strange circumstances. We also hired a full COVID AD team, and they were amazing – they really took the responsibility of making sure our set was safe and everyone was protected, so everybody else could just focus on doing their job. Our set ran incredibly smoothly14.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>I never felt like the creativity suffered because of these new protocols and circumstances, and I always felt safe. It was still strange and obviously not ideal, but I think we had sort of the best circumstances given what we were working with.

14.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>What did the COVID AD team do?

line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>They were hired to literally just coordinate the COVID protocol of the set. Everyone on set from our grips to Kaley tested three times a week, whether you were working or not. They handled the scheduling of all of that testing and the getting of all of those results to the studio and insurance companies. They helped us schedule line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>tests if we were doing them "Times New Roman"’>set. We had people physically on set at all times who had masks and hand sanitizer and basically, like, everything you could possibly need115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>they had extra mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:
"Times New Roman"’>
14.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>It sounds like a new world.

line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>It really was crazy. It’s basically a new job that didn’t have to exist before. But they made it possible for us to do what we needed to do creatively, and we couldn’t have done it without them.

14.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>In The Flight Attendant, you play Kaley’s best friend Annie. How would you describe that character?

line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>Annie is sort of a complicated creature. I would say, on the one hand, she is incredibly type A: she is very together, she is a fancy font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>lawyerHelvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>she’s done very well for herself. She doesn’t show a lot of emotion, she sort of keeps everything compartmentalized so that she can keep control over everything, or so she thinks. But I think there’s a lot brewing under the surface because, like anybody who has control issues, a lot of the time there are things that they are not addressing. And so she was a really fun character to play because as the season goes on, we start to see those layers of her unravel a bit, and we get to know the true Anniemso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>a little bit more. 

14.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>At the end of the shoot, you got matching tattoos with Kaley. Why?

line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>So, Kaley and I both have tattoos. I have quite a few. And it was actually"Times New Roman"’>the costume department on our showHelvetica’>e Helvetica’>, Mr. Robot and they had all gotten matching tattoos when they wrapped that show. Normally after one season of a show, you get close to people but it’s really like the second season, the third season, you start to really feel like family. But I think given the fact that we made our show under such crazy circumstances, it just deepened all of our relationships to this sort of next-level way. And it took us a year to shoot eight episodes because of COVID, so it felt like we had been working together for so much longer than we actually had"Times New Roman"’>because of the things that we had gone through together. It was actually Catherine Thomas, our costume designer’s"Times New Roman"’>idea.mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>Shefont-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>and the costume girls were going to go get a tattoo together, and Kaley and I caught wind of it and we were, like, “We want to come too!” And, I don’t know, it just sort of seemed appropriate, like this was an experience that was on the one hand so joyous and so fulfilling creatively, but also, because of the state of our world,line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>so trying and bizarre. And we all just wanted to do something to commemorate it.

14.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>What kind of tattoo did you get?

line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>So Cat designed line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>for us, it’s a little paper airplane, sort of as a nod to the show, but not too on the nose – I don’t think any of us necessarily wanted an actual airplane. So we all got a little paper airplane.

14.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>You starred on the groundbreaking series Girls for six years. Looking back, how important was that series in your life and in your career?

line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>I mean, it was pivotal – it changed my life intrinsically. font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>only creatively, but"Times New Roman"’>from an outside perspective: to be on a show that had so many eyes on it, that started so many conversations, and allowed me to play such a zany character – in my opinion, that was really the moment that my career revved up. It changed my life in ways that I can’t even count. I will be forever grateful for it. I got to spend my "Times New Roman"’>shooting that show, which was really a dream come true.

14.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>Is Shoshanna the character that you are most recognized for on the streets when people come up to you?

line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>Yes, I would say most definitely. For the most part, it’s always sort of a funny interaction because I think people expect me to be like her, and I’m very much not like her at all. And so it often feels like this funny incident of people expecting to meet Shoshanna and meeting me and almost being a little bit sad. And then I am, like, “I am so sorry I let you down!” (laughs) I think they are expecting this "Times New Roman"’>super-bubbly, pink-wearing human, and I am normally in my grungy sweatpants and I’m, like, “Hey, man, what’s up?” And they’re, like, “You’re not Shoshanna!” (laughs) “I’m so sorry!” But you know, it runs the gamut. I think one of the reasons I loved being on that show so much was it spoke about and shed light on a lot of things that people of my generation were going through and "Times New Roman"’>alone in their experience"Times New Roman"’>because it had never necessarily been portrayed on screen in such an honest way. And so it totally depends, but I often find people, when they come up to me and they recognize me, they just like sharing or saying thank you for that show. And to me this is the biggest compliment any creative human could ever get, it’s one of the main reasons I do what I do, is just to make people feel less alone. Whether that is through making them laugh, or giving themmso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>an experience on the screen that’s hard that they can relate to so they can feel like they are not the only one experiencing it, people say things like that a lot, which really makes the experience of having been on that show even more special. 

14.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>Do you stay in touch with the cast of Girls?

line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>We do from time to time, we will reach out to each other on big events or things like that. But our industry is funny, you make something with people, whether it be a movie or six seasons of a show, and you become so entrenched in each other’s lives that you become family. And then when that thing is over you get pulled in this totally other direction with a new group of humans and you have to set up camp there. Since we all work in the industry, that is sort of what happened, and thankfully we are all still working, and so we’ve all been busy. And some of us have kids and most of us are married, so life kind of yanks you in other directions. So we try to keep in touch, but we sadly don’t get to talk, like, all the time.

14.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>Your father is playwright David Mamet, your mother actress Lindsay Crouse. Did you know from a very early age that you wanted to become an actress?

line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>It’s sort of a tough question to answer because I often think if my family owned a shoe factory, would I have then still wanted to be an actor? Who knows the answer to that because I didn’t live that life. But I think there’s no doubt that I was influenced by my upbringing and by my parents doing what they do. And I was around it from the day I was born – my Mom was pregnant with me on stage, so I like to think it’s literally in my DNA and was potentially unavoidable. But I fell in love with it from a really early age, my parents had me on set and in the theater with them, and I often say most normal kids are enamored by Disneyland, but I was just, like – I remember walking onto movie sets and just feeling like they were the most magical place on earth. And it’s funny, to this day, the smell of scrim burning a little bit makes me think of my childhood. There are smells and sounds and just the lingo of being on a set feels so much like home to me. And, I don’t know, I just could never think of a better job since I was really little. I can’t ever remember wanting to do anything else. My earliest memories are sitting on my Mom’s lap in the makeup chair and looking in the mirror and thinking, “Someday I will sit in this chair.” And just watching them do what they do, it just always looked like so much fun to me and I sort of couldn’t imagine that that could be a job. So I pretty much set my sights on that and I was, like, “That’s what I am going to do.”

14.0pt;line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>Your husband is an actor as well, isn’t he?

line-height:115%;font-family:Helvetica;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"’>He is, yeah. I mean, it’s really nice, it’s, like, I think we both are actors that really value the quality of our lives as well. We know that if we are happy humans in our life and we have a "Times New Roman"’>existence, we are just going to be better artists. It’s amazing to be with someone who understands this so deeply, obviously because he does what I do as well. He knows the ins and outs of this industry, and how complicated it is, and how trying it is, but also has the same value of wanting to take the time away from our industry and away from our jobs to make our day-to-day life just as rich. So we really strive to create a good balance there so it isn’t all just work, work, work. But it is really amazing to have him understand so deeply and to have him to talk to about everything we go through and what a day on set is like. We really try and balance, like, who takes a job when, like for instance, he’s about to leave for Pittsburgh to go shoot a new television show, so I am going to go with him for that so we can be together. We sort of try and travel as a family unit whenever we can.