The Flight Attendant’s Michelle Gomez on That Knife Fight Scene and Where Miranda Croft Is Now

WARNING: Spoilers for The Flight Attendant Episode 8 ahead.

Miranda Croft, the mysterious assassin on The Flight Attendant with a piercing gaze and intimidating knife skills, is the farthest thing from “chill.” But that’s how Michelle Gomez, the actress who plays her, imagines she’d feel after the finale. “I think she’s probably quietly sipping a cappuccino at Tivoli Fountain. And, yeah, I guess chilling,” Gomez tells over the phone from snowy Connecticut.

The much-needed vacation would be a departure from the heart-pumping cat-and-mouse chase Croft has kept up throughout the series. Over multiple episodes, she follows flight attendant Cassie Bowden (Kaley Cuoco) around the world in search of a secret sum of money owed by Cassie’s slain—but rich—one-night stand, Alex Sokolov (Michiel Huisman). When they come face-to-face in the penultimate episode, they team up instead and plot to take down the man out to kill them both, Feliks (Colin Woodell). Their plan is successful, but Miranda flees during the blitz. All we know is that she leaves Cassie a note saying she took Alex’s money, but we have no idea where she went.

Here, Gomez, a veteran actress who you may recognize from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Doctor Who, talks to BAZAAR about Miranda’s possible whereabouts, working with Cuoco, and staying away from the Long Island Rail Road.

Miranda is so fascinating. We don’t really know much about her at first and we don’t even really see your character until the very, very end of the first episode!

I think it’s always really interesting to be in soft focus for an entire episode. The anticipation of actually meeting Miranda, I hope it didn’t disappoint. Because I’ve never been discussed that much before you meet me in anything ever before. Even I wanted to meet her, and I play her.

How did you prepare for this role? The show is based on a book, so did you research by reading, or did you want to do it completely fresh?

No, it’s one of the things that can kind of trip you up. If you go down too much of a research path on your own, you can end up turning up at a job and you have all these ideas and it just doesn’t fit tonally. And I’ve learned that in the past. So I knew that Steve Yockey was going to provide a phenomenal reimagining of the book. Just the sides and the script that I received from him were just a glorious template for me to base Miranda on, and then take it from there.

Between Miranda, Cassie, Megan (Rosie Perez), Ani (Zosia Mamet), and FBI agent Kim (Merle Dandridge), we saw a whole array of women in power in this show.

I felt like we were all having a moment of being represented really fairly. And sort of redressing the balance in a way. I like that all of the women in this show can be powerful without having to be masculine. Can be powerful without having to use their feminine wiles. Because that’s a bore, and you can see through that smoke screen immediately. I just liked that they have innate individual power that doesn’t need to be shouted about or screamed about. I think the show set the bar for being, like, across the board, these women are just powerful in their own right. I also think that we’re hopefully going to get tired of talking about this soon. Because we should be there by now. But 2020 has certainly broken a few glass ceilings. So we’re not doing too badly, even in a pandemic.

We never really get a full description of what Miranda does. How would you describe her job?

I think the mystery of her, or the enigma, or however you want to coin that phrase, is her strength. Because you want to keep the audience intrigued as much as possible, but not so much where they turn off. Because it’s like, “Oh, we have no idea who she is.” So the challenge for me was to make sure that she kept some semblance of mystery, but had enough human flaws and quirks that would, I guess, turn her into a somewhat likable assassin.

Even though so much of her is mysterious, did you lay out what her backstory might’ve been?

I would love to know what Miranda Croft’s backstory was. Because I’m like, “Wait a minute, how did this kind of vaguely civilized-looking human being get to be so good with a flick knife and a flick blade, and, like, really kick ass in confined spaces such as elevators? How did she get there?” So I had to kind of join the dots for myself. And I think that would be really interesting to know. I think it’s always interesting to know, how do people become who they become. Obviously, a lot of the time as we get older, we start to become defined by our choices. And if our choices are just consistently bad in a way, or kind of dubious or questionable, that’s the energy you’re going to get back.

I used to think that that was like a load of hocus-pocus. But you really do get what you put out; you get that back in life. So I think that’s why Cassie seemed to stop her in her tracks. The normal tracks that would be, “You’re in my way. Are you useful to me in order to get what I want? If you’re not, I’ll either kill you or literally just shove you over and move right along.” Miranda’s basically a shark. She just keeps moving ahead, moving forward without consequence. She just keeps going for what she needs to get.

Exactly. What do you think it about Cassie that stops her in her tracks?

I think she recognizes maybe there’s an essence in Cassie that had been Miranda in a past life. I mean, I don’t know how we’ll develop into the second season, if we hopefully are allowed to carry on, but I have ideas of how Miranda would certainly be developed. And I think we’ve kind of laid the groundwork for that. But in terms of the way Cassie stops her in her tracks, I think it’s as simple as she’s a version of Miranda when she was younger. And we move into almost a mentoring relationship. I mean, they’re a very unusual pair. You would not normally have put them together. But they really work.

What was it like sharing scenes with Kaley? It seemed like there were a lot of very high-energy and fun moments together.

Oh, my God, that girl. She’s fabulous. She’s amazing. If Brigitte Bardot and Goldie Hawn had a love child, it would be Kaley Cuoco. She is so gorgeous, but so funny and goofy. But then, in the moment, she breaks your heart. And she just takes you on this roller-coaster ride of emotionality that you’re never sure how are you going to feel from one moment to the next. She just turns on a dime so quickly and is really in charge of her instrument, her mechanism, her talent. And the other thing that’s fantastic about Kaley is that on the day, you genuinely get to play. She hears you and sees you.

How about working with her as an executive producer?

Seeing Kaley in charge was so inspiring. And it’s because of that, I dare to venture to set up my own production company. She sort of somehow enabled me. Though I’m a little bit older than her, I just watched her really being in charge in a very generous way. I never thought of her as a boss. She’s an executive producer, so extensively she was the boss, but you never felt like that.

What was it like being able to film all over the world?

That must’ve been really nice for those of them that did that. I didn’t get to do that. I was not in Rome. Or anywhere else for that matter. Other than the Long Island Rail Road. That was probably the most exotic location that I got to go on. But that was fine.

I like that all of the women in this show can be powerful without having to be masculine.

I want to talk about the knife-fight scene in the elevator. I was so in awe.

Well, I can’t speak for Colin [Woodell], but I really enjoyed it. I don’t know how I would gauge myself in terms of age, but I’m, like, one of the older members of the cast. So to get to kick ass like that … and then we were rehearsing, Colin was like, “Wait a minute. What are you doing? How come you’re getting this so fast?” And I was like, “Oh, I forgot to tell you. I have a background in performance theater and dance.” So I’m very physical normally in most roles that I play. There’s a saying, when you just put your back into it or you lean into it—I literally did both of those things.

Did you do any combat training for the part?

No. No. We had a phenomenal fight coordinator, Mark [Fichera]. And he makes you look better than you really are. And he breaks it down really simply. If you do have any kind of history or background in dance, then it’s sort of like he’s teaching you a dance. It’s like it’s choreographed. It looks more complicated than it is. And then, of course, there’s the way it’s shot and the angles that they come in at. So, I was quite pleased with the outcome.

I mean, could you take someone in a knife fight now?

I’d really rather not invite or suggest that really, on print or anywhere. But I am a wily little Glaswegian. [Laughs.] I could probably take care of myself in a dark alley. But I don’t think you’re going to find me down many dark alleys. I hope not.

The last time we see Miranda is when she’s unconscious in a hotel bathroom, and then she disappears. Turns out, she took Alex’s money and left a note for Cassie in his book. Where do you think she went with all the money?

She’s such a romantic at heart. [Laughs.] I don’t know, maybe she finally got to Rome. Maybe. I don’t know, she’s gone somewhere fabulous. She’s gone somewhere exotic, and she’s gone in the opposite direction of the Long Island Rail Road tracks I’m sure.

How would you like to see Miranda develop if the show continues?

Oh, I would so love to have this conversation, but it’s premature. And we’re focusing on the series that’s just come out. But needless to say, if we were to move on, there would be something interesting I would unpack. But I can’t share that with you right now.

What do you hope people take away from this show, especially after the finale?

I hope that they were thoroughly entertained, with some fresh, new content. Obviously, 2020 has given us a real hunger for that right now, because we’ve watched everything. I hope they’ll take away the fact that there are phenomenal stories, with women at the heart of them, that don’t have to be about all the things that we’ve thoroughly talked about in the past in terms of domestic life. I love that it’s more empowering. They’ll just get to escape for an hour into this wonderful world of Cassie Bowden.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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