Promising Young Woman was one of the best films of 2020, and now the movie is headed to the Oscars. Jennifer Coolidge, who plays Cassie’s mother, Susan, praised director Emerald Fennell’s “masterpiece” and weighed in about that jaw-dropping ending in our EXCLUSIVE interview. To recap, Cassie ended up being murdered by Al, the man who raped her best friend, after her relentless pursuit of revenge. Jennifer thinks the film’s ending was the only “option.”
“It was one of those stories where there really wasn’t any other option without compromising something,” Jennifer told HollywoodLife. “It would have felt untrue. It’s just somebody who really stopped living because a girlfriend had a terrible thing happened to her, and she couldn’t really recover from it. It was her loyalty to her friend to make something right in her own head. I don’t think there really could have been another option. It was such a brilliant ending. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a movie. It was a really, really brave ending. Emerald’s a genius.”
Emerald’s film, which she wrote and directed, is nominated for 5 Oscars, including Best Motion Picture of the Year. Jennifer wanted to work with Emerald after seeing Emerald’s short Careful How You Go. She praised Emerald’s “guts” in telling Promising Young Woman’s story.
“The way the story is told is a very brave way of telling the story,” Jennifer continued. “Even when I was talking to Emerald about it, I’m like, ‘This is really bold. I don’t know how this is going to be received.’ She had the guts to do it. Some people are just so ahead of their time. She created this masterpiece. There has to be someone out there that just sort of just goes for it, and she told the story so well. She got in all the subtleties of how a woman can lose their power and lose the will to carry on from a traumatic, early male experience. When I saw that movie, I couldn’t believe it. I knew it was a good script, but I had no idea what she was going to pull off. It was so much more advanced than what the script was. It was unbelievable just because it was. It’s a dark comedy, but it had so many brilliant, serious moments in it.”
There’s one moment in the film when Cassie forgets her own birthday, and Susan breaks down. Jennifer explained what was going through Susan’s head at the moment.
“She’d hung in there for the recovery, and then just got that moment where it was like, this isn’t going to change,” Jennifer said. “I think Cassie’s mother has that moment where she’s like, nothing’s going to improve. My daughter’s just chosen to accept this as her fate. I shot the scene where I was crying more than one of the takes that Emerald shows. I think Emerald took the shots that I did that were more just worn out and confused rather than sobbing. I think it’s just that horrible realization where you’re just kind of numb and you’re like, wow, this is it.”
Jennifer also revealed that her performance as Susan, who mostly turned a blind eye to what was really going on with Cassie, was inspired by her own mother. “I think whenever my own mother was uncomfortable, she would go into this sort of weird denial,” Jennifer told HollywoodLife. “I remember thinking if I could just somehow channel that, where it’s someone who just doesn’t quite totally accept the moment and denied what’s going on. I think Emerald took pieces of it and put some pieces of where I was sort of realizing it, and then other pieces where I was just kind of pretending that everything was going to be okay. I think most of most of everything I did in that movie was just stolen from my mother.” Promising Young Woman is available to own on Digital, Blu-ray, and DVD. The film is also available to rent On Demand.