Rosie Perez Opens Up About 'The Flight Attendant' and Her Early Battle With COVID-19 (Exclusive)

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Rosie Perez had her own frightening experience with COVID-19, even before the United States battled the deadly disease.

It was this time last year that the actress was fighting for her life inside a Bangkok hospital. Perez, 56, caught the coronavirus while she was shooting The Flight Attendant, and now she's sharing her terrifying health scare with ET.

"I end up being severely ill to the point where they had to bring a doctor on set," Perez told ET's Kevin Frazier. "Kaley Cuoco, by the way, Instagrammed a picture of me laying on the bed and she joined me to cheer me up and no one had any idea. The doctor told me I had to be rushed to the emergency room ASAP and when I got there, it was like a movie."

"Everybody was all over me and they quarantined me," she recalled. "And the head of the ICU said, 'You have this new respiratory tract infection that's coming here from the East and a lot of tourists are getting it when they're flying in and it's been leading to death.'"

As she was being wheeled into the intensive care unit, Perez told her manager, "Don't let me die in Bangkok. Please call my husband." She was told at the hospital that they didn't have a name for the virus, "but it's very serious."

"They fixed me up as best they could and I remember the last words that the ICU doctor told me, she said, 'Wherever you go, whoever you encounter, never take off your mask. It's for your protection and for our protection. Don't ever go anywhere without your mask,'" she said.  

It was just a month later that Perez learned from the CDC that she had the coronavirus. All the while, The Flight Attendant needed to finish up filming after an industry-wide shutdown in March. When she, along with Cuoco and the rest of the cast and crew, went back to production, Perez said everything changed.

"It was very different," she explained of the new filming procedures. "It was like the movie Contagion. Everyone had PPE on, everyone had to get tested every single day, even when we weren't working."

"There's a very tender scene between Kaley's character and I later, as the episodes go on, and we should have hugged each other in the scene and we couldn't," she shared. "And we both teared up and it worked for the scene, thank goodness. But just like, gosh we can't even touch each other. It was so bizarre but we got through it."

"Kudos to the production because it was top notch," Perez added.

Based on the 2018 best-selling novel by Chris Bohjalian, The Flight Attendant follows flight attendant Cassie (Cuoco), who wakes up in the wrong hotel, in the wrong bed, with a dead man (Michiel Huisman) -- and no recollection of what happened. As Cassie's world unravels, she begins to wonder if she was the one responsible for the man's death.

"It was a blast," Perez said of her on-set experience. "We would work 12 hour days either in Bangkok or Italy or West Chester or Brooklyn or Long Island and we all wanted to hang out after work on our days off. Kaley Cuoco is such a great team leader. She would create all these outings and we would have a blast. I loved it, I really did."

As for whether there could be a second season of the HBO Max show, Perez is all in!

"I have no idea. Let's hope [so] because it was so much fun," she marveled. "The writing was spectacular, the performances were great and let's just hope and see."

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