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Bette Midler has never been afraid to say what she thinks. That’s why her tweets about the Republican National Convention have gone viral. Midler actually parlayed her outspokenness into her latest role. She stars in HBO’s Coastal Elites, a special filmed during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Bette Midler
Bette Midler | Lars Niki/Getty Images for WSJ. Magazine Innovators Awards

Most of the Coastal Elites cast — Dan Levy, Issa Rae, Sarah Paulson and Kaitlyn Dever — filmed their roles as a video chat monologue. Midler delivers hers in a police interrogation room, which she filmed at her house. Midler was on a Television Critics Association panel for Coastal Elites and discussed her fears about the production. Coastal Elites airs Sept. 12 on HBO.

Bette Midler still feared contracting COVID-19 while filming ‘Coastal Elites’

Hollywood has instituted COVID-19 protocols to allow productions to resume. Midler still had reservations.

“I’m so paranoid, because I’m so old, you know?” Midler said. “I feel like anything can happen to me. If I go to the post box, I’m in trouble. So, I really felt that I was in superb hands. Every question that I had was answered and I got a free test. I got a free COVID test out of it, so it was win/win all around.”

The ‘Coastal Elites’ crew kept Bette Midler safe

Coastal Elites followed the protocols. It was the first socially distanced production Midler experienced.

Coastal Elites: Bette Midler
Bette Midler | HBO

“I do have to say that they followed every single protocol, and everybody was great,” Midler said. “I mean, they kept their distance. They cleaned, they kept their distance, they did what they had to, they came in two days before, did everything they had to do, they left, they left it pristine. I mean, I felt very well taken care of. I really did.”

Acting alone was strange too

Midler has been a solo artist as a musician, and has performed monologues on stage and screen. However, she’s never performed in a situation like Coastal Elites before. 

“It was all very strange, but it was kind of wonderful, too, in a way,” Midler said. “I had two cameras, but really I was only allowed to look into one. The hardest part, I think, was the connection between me and the person that I was talking to.”

Bette Midler is ready for the remote Emmys too

Midler has an Emmy nomination for her role in Netflix’s The Politician. The ceremony will be virtual, following the leads of other awards shows during the pandemic. 

Bette Midler in The Politician
Bette Midler | Netflix

“Gee, I can’t imagine,” Midler said. “I can’t even wrap my head around it, I really can’t, I haven’t thought about it at all. I mean, I’m very gratified for the nomination, but I can’t imagine. And I can’t imagine what the room is like where people are trying to figure it out. I mean, the Zoom call where people are trying to figure it out, I sure am glad I’m not on that call.”