Virtual Dates, Yoga and Lip-Syncs: How Stars Liven Up Hotel Quarantines for Shoots

Jenna Ortega during her New Zealand quarantine and Jack Quaid in his Toronto hotel room during his 14-day lockdown.
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Jenna Ortega during her New Zealand quarantine and Jack Quaid in his Toronto hotel room during his 14-day lockdown.

Celebrities fill the weeks stuck alone in a room before stepping on set in creative ways: "Make sure the windows open. That stuff matters."

Preproduction quarantines are the new norm in Hollywood, with cast and crews holed up in hotel rooms around the world for two to three weeks before ever stepping on set.

Many of these stays, and the accompanying struggles, are broadcast on social media: Taika Waititi documented 14 days stuck inside a hotel room with his daughters in New Zealand ahead of directing Thor: Love and Thunder in Australia, and Lulu Wang took to Twitter, looking for virtual friends to "get drunk [with] and do an AMA or Clubhouse or dance party" during a 21-day quarantine in Hong Kong for Amazon's series The Expatriates.

Jack Quaid performed nightly lip-sync numbers on his Instagram stories during a 14-day Canadian lockdown. "It started out fairly simple, just me dancing. Then I realized that I had to get more creative with it," says Quaid, who is shooting season three of the Amazon hit The Boys in Toronto. "All of a sudden I was trying to figure out how I could make myself look like I was driving a car using a TV, a pizza tray and a blow-dryer." He also credits playing video games on his PlayStation with getting him through the two weeks, as well as workouts, movies, cooking and text chains with his co-stars.

"I didn't realize how nuts I went until after quarantine," Quaid says. "I would go to the studio for fittings or get coffee with some of my castmates in the park and realize, 'Wow, I am rusty at being around other people.' I forgot how to have conversations that weren't on FaceTime."

Brittany Snow, who quarantined for 20 days in New Zealand in a hotel before shooting horror film X, created a film festival for herself of four to five classics a day, along with yoga, journaling and "FaceTime dates with my husband and my friends where I would get dressed up and we would have a meal together over the phone." The lockdown also provided "set aside time to work on the character," she says. "I definitely knew all my lines by the end." You's Jenna Ortega, also in New Zealand for X, says that as an introvert, she enjoyed the time alone for reading, writing and sketching.

Productions that are outside the country generally face stricter quarantines than those inside the U.S.; both Ortega and Big Little Lies' Douglas Smith note that they received calls from the government with updates and checks on their status.

"L.A. quarantine is a joke," says Smith, who is in Toronto working on CBS' Clarice, citing Canada's new rules that require a stay at a government-authorized hotel while awaiting COVID-19 test results. Arriving just before those protocols were in place, he convinced production to put his hotel budget toward a private rental home with a backyard and a piano, which he "played for 20 hours a day."

For those heading into their own quarantines, Smith recommends "knowing what you're getting yourself into. Maybe ask a few questions that you normally wouldn't ask to your reps and your travel coordinator. Maybe stay at an apartment that has a balcony or backyard," he says. "Don't go for the five-star hotel if you can't use any of it. Make sure the windows open. That stuff matters."

This story first appeared in the March 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.