Why Rosie Perez was scared to do ‘The Flight Attendant’ (2024)

Rosie Perez calls her new show “a badass, sexy comedic thriller.” But “The Flight Attendant” star said when she was first offered her role, she turned it down.

“I don’t like to fly,” Perez, 56, told The Post. “I felt it wouldn’t be a good fit.”

She eventually changed her mind, and now she stars on the HBO Max series — currently airing on Thursdays — as Megan Briscoe, a flight attendant harboring secrets. Based on a 2018 novel, it follows Cassie Bowden (Kaley Cuoco, also an executive producer), a party girl with the titular job who lives a carefree life full of booze and forgettable one-night stands. It all comes crashing down when she wakes up hungover in a Bangkok hotel room next to the dead body of her most recent date (played by Michiel Huisman of “Game of Thrones”), unable to remember the events of the previous night.

In the ensuing whodunit, Cassie faces down the FBI, trying to piece together the details of her night and whether or not she’s actually the killer.

Perez’s character is Cassie’s friend and co-worker, with her own skeletons in the closet.

“She’s not who she seems to be, and she’s so multilayered and complex,” said Perez of Megan.

It was Cuoco who ultimately convinced her to take the part.

“Kaley Cuoco is amazing . . .She asked to meet with me when I turned down the offer,” the lifelong New Yorker said.

“And she was like, ‘If you do this, I swear I will take care of you. Please say “yes.” They told me to play it coy, but you don’t seem like someone who appreciates coy.’ She had me at ‘hello,’ ” Perez said.

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In truth, Perez’s concerns went deeper than simply not liking airplanes. But she said she was afraid to get into it, lest she came off like a diva.

“I knew that we were going to go to various different countries, and I felt like it would taketoo much out of me,” she said. “I suffer from anxiety. I get terrible jet lag when I fly. I’m not that type of actor — I don’t request white rose petals and green M&M’s in my dressing room. That’s not who I am. I just have an issue, here.”

A portion of the show was shot on location in Rome, as well as other global cities.To Perez’s surprise, she enjoyed the shoots — even the travel part.

“I had been to Italy several times, and I’d never experienced a city the way I got to experience Rome here. Nobody took a car anywhere, we walked all over. I got my best friend Julie Shannon to go with me, I hung out with [co-star] Griffin Matthews a lot . . .I really felt likea part of the city.”

Even though she was ableto conquer her anxiety to do the show, she admitted it’s still something she struggles with.

“I’ve flown since [filming] ‘The Flight Attendant’ when I did press for ‘Birds of Prey,’ and my hairdresser, who’s my friend, too, said, ‘I thought you’d be a lot calmer after doing that show — but you’re not!’ ”

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During the pandemic, she’s been more grounded at home in Brooklyn, spending her time on a mixture of “eating, cooking, and film noir,” she said, along with doing voice work for the upcoming Netflix animated show “Human Resources.”She recently revealed that she contracted COVID-19 a year ago — before docs had a handle on what it was, she said — while on location for “The Flight Attendant,” describing her experience with the deadly virus as “terrifying.”

Her time in lockdown was much calmer. “I rediscovered my backyard. I’m blessed, I have a humongous backyard and I redid the whole thing . . .I’m still working during this pandemic, having to go inside my closet and nail comforters all around to create sound barriers and sitting on the floor recording the voice-over. It’s insanity, but it’s been a lot of fun.”

‘I suffer from anxiety. I get terrible jet lag when I fly.’

Perez, who was discovered by Spike Lee when she was 24, is best known for “Do the Right Thing,” her stint as a co-host on “The View,” dancing on “Soul Train,” and her Emmy-nominated choreography on “In Living Color.” Next up, she’ll be in the 2021 family movie “Clifford the Big Red Dog.”

As Megan on “The Flight Attendant,” she plays a middle-aged woman. But unlike many Hollywood stars, she said she isn’t bothered by aging in front of the camera.

“I’m older now, and I fully embraced that I’m a middle-aged menopausal woman who still looks cute,” she said.

“And I brought that to Megan — not worrying about vanity so much. I just worried about being Megan. I didn’t worry about if my stomach was sticking out or jowls were prominent. All of that [concern] has been gone for the past 10 years. I tell my actor friends, ‘Go ahead and get your Botox. I get that, it’s the new mascara. But otherwise, just relax!’ ”

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Why Rosie Perez was scared to do ‘The Flight Attendant’ (2024)
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