Bette Midler: “Paul Rudnick wrote this role for me”

Coastal Elites is the first series shot at the time of COVID and therefore filmed remotely, with each actor alone, at home, in front of a camera. Bette Midler , Sarah Paulson , Issa Rae, and Kaitlyn Dever embody characters in touch with political and cultural events during this pandemic. All of them filmed remotely from their homes in New York or Los Angeles. Bette Midler talked about that new challenge.

How to describe the shooting of this series?

It was very strange but extraordinary at the same time because this experience was strong. I have done long monologues before. I played I’ll Eat You Last on Broadway two years ago, which gave me the training to play this comedy on my own. The hardest part of Coastal Elites for me was having a camera filming me all the time but no one to talk to. I recited my monologue without spectator or technician.

A production team came to your house. Were you afraid of contracting the virus during this shoot?

All the technicians were great and we followed the guidelines. They came two days before to install everything while staying away from me. And they left, leaving the room sparklingly clean. It was reassuring even though I am so paranoid because I am old. I tell myself that just going to my mailbox can put me in danger. That said, filming Coastal Elites was a win / win for me as I even got a free Covid test (laughs )

You who have spent years in recording studios for your songs, is it a similar experience?

No, because when you go to record in a music studio, it’s full of people and there is a lot of food available. In this case, there was no one and nothing to eat (laughs). I was alone in a room with a lot of equipment and materials.

What were the complications since you shot in full confinement?

It was completely weird because I didn’t feel free in my gestures. To shoot in these conditions was even depressing because it makes you wonder. We have always said that show business is immune from an economic crisis and we are now discovering that this is not the case at all. During the Great Depression, the cinema was the only thing that survived and people continued to work and earn a living. Today we are all out of work. When we get a job, we are happy to accept even if these conditions are more than weird. It’s like being in a spaceship without knowing the final destination, that’s my feeling.

You play as a liberal Jewish New York mother who hates Trump. What about your character of Miriam Nessler?

I identified very strongly with my character. It’s like Paul Rudnick wrote this role for me. He knows how nuts I can get when I have to speak out about those who currently live in the White House. So there was something cathartic in my dialogues. But unfortunately not yet cathartic enough because I am still in a state of rage and anxiety on this subject (laughs ).

by Henry Arnaud 

Bette Midler by ARMANDO GALLO / HFPA
Bette Midler in a scene from Coastal Elites . HBO


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