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Did Jennifer Coolidge’s spray tan for ‘The White Lotus’ really send her to the emergency room?

'I didn't want to look like a big, white marshmallow on the beach in Hawaii...'

Jennifer Coolidge, winner of the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie award for ‘The White Lotus,’ poses in the press room during the 74th Primetime Emmys at Microsoft Theater on September 12, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Jennifer Coolidge clearly put her all into HBO’s The White Lotus. The role of the entitled and oblivious Tanya McQuoid, who traveled to the exclusive Hawaiian resort to grieve her mother, earned Coolidge her much-deserved first major acting award at the 2022 Emmys for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie.

When Coolidge went onstage to accept her award, however, she seemed to be the only person in the room surprised by her win — which resulted an internet-worthy moment when the 61-year-old fumbled with her acceptance speech and then danced to the music attempting to play her off.

“I just wanna say, I took a lavender bath tonight, right before the show, and it made me swell up inside my dress, and uh, I’m having a hard time speaking,” Coolidge told the audience, laughing.

“I didn’t think this was gonna happen — hold on, wait wait wait,” she said, as she attempted to read names from a piece of paper, just as the music began to chime in. “Wait no hold on, this is a once in a lifetime thing, and I’m full, I’m full!”

But interestingly enough, her speech wasn’t the only Curb Your Enthusiasm moment (also nominated at this year’s Emmys), as Coolidge recently revealed in an interview.

Why did Jennifer Coolidge have to go to the emergency room while filming The White Lotus?

When filming began on The White Lotus in October of 2020, pandemic lockdowns were still in full effect — as vaccines would not become available until a few months later — so it stands to reason that before traveling to Hawaii, most of the cast had been indoors for the better part of the year. So in other words, Coolidge was not exactly feeling beach-ready, and attempted to remedy with a spray tan.

Unfortunately, the spray tan triggered an allergic reaction, as Coolidge told Allure (via Entertainment Weekly).

“For The White Lotus, I didn’t want to look like a big, white marshmallow on the beach in Hawaii, so I got a spray tan,” she told Allure. “I got on the plane and I started to feel really weird. By the time I got off the flight, I had to go to the emergency room.”

Her sudden health scare prompted production to change her onscreen makeup routine too. “I think we ended up using regular makeup,” she recalled. “The minute we stopped filming, I would shower. I have such a quick reaction to stuff.”

Coolidge added that her makeup allergy is a relatively new development. “I was never someone who cared very much about ingredients,” she said. “Then, I’d say the last five or six years, I started getting allergic. My eyes would always be tearing up, but it never occurred to me that it was my makeup.”

It seems like the odds were practically stacked against Coolidge from the start. In an interview with Variety published earlier this summer, the American Pie star revealed why she almost turned down the role.

But her tendency to consider things from every angle while others simply follow the script can weigh heavily. Coolidge almost talked herself out of The White Lotus, even though her friend [series creator Mike White] had written the part for her. Depressed at the height of COVID and feeling unready to work, she had to be persuaded to join the cast by “a really smart, savvy, very blunt friend.”

“I didn’t like the way I looked,” she says with a trademark understanding of her own sensitivities, and a willingness to poke at them. “But did I change it for The White Lotus 2? No! I didn’t change anything!”

In retrospect, if Coolidge was insecure about her looks, it makes sense that a spray tan might have given her a boost of confidence. Thankfully her spray tan reaction was evidently short-lived!

Stacey Ritzen
About the author

Stacey Ritzen

Stacey Ritzen is a Philadelphia-based reporter with 15 years of experience covering pop culture, entertainment, web culture, and news. She has previously worked for outlets including Uproxx, Pajiba, Daily Dot, and more.