Mere hours before the premiere of Peacock’s comedic thriller series, The Resort, Nina Bloomgarden still has no idea what to wear. While the 24-year-old actress takes style cues from the 1970s—especially Patti Smith, to whom she recently dedicated a Pinterest board—her only sartorial direction for the night is to look “chic as fuck.” But “I’ll figure it out in a couple of hours,” she says nonchalantly during a Zoom call from Los Angeles.
The Resort follows Emma (Cristin Milioti) and Noah (William Jackson Harper) as they endeavor to solve the 2007 disappearance of Sam (Skyler Gisondo) and Violet, played by Bloomgarden. Although Bloomgarden operates with the coolness of a red carpet veteran, The Resort marks her foray into television. She joins a stacked cast of industry heavyweights including Milioti, Harper, Gisondo, and Nick Offerman on the series, which premieres July 28. The young actress says she’s a longtime admirer of Milioti, whom she has idolized since high school. “We had to figure out which actors we admired, and Cristin was on my list,” she says. “When I did plays in high school, I would look up the original Broadway cast and I would find out I was playing Cristin's role.” When it comes to her onscreen dad, Nick Offerman, Bloomgarden—a longtime Parks and Recreation fan—can’t contain her giddiness while recalling his late-in-the-game casting. “I would talk to our writer [Andy Siara] and be like, ‘So, word on the street is Nick Offerman might be playing my dad,’ and he was like, ‘It's not gonna happen.’”
Bloomgarden stars in The Resort as Violet, a young woman who, alongside Gisondo’s Sam, is the focal point of the plot's mystery. Though Violet and Sam begin as strangers, the two quickly bond over a shared sense of loss: for him, the dissolution of his relationship; for her, the death of her mother.
As Violet, Bloomgarden delivers a visceral and raw performance of grief. She didn’t have to reach far for inspiration. Weeks before she was asked to audition for the role, her father, John, died. For the actress, “eerie” is the operative word. “The thing that Violet’s mom leaves her was very similar to what my dad left me and my family,” she says. From her well-timed audition to her character parallels, it truly feels like the Fates have played their hand. “It was serendipitous, this whole show,” she says. “The universe has really given us a lot.”
Channeling her own grief into Violet served as a much-needed catharsis for Bloomgarden. “Getting to grieve through Violet has been such a blessing,” she says, citing conversations with Siara and director Ben Sinclair as particularly poignant moments in her character development. “They really let me shape Violet.” Not only did the role help her process her own loss, but it also gave her empathy for people who experience grief differently. “I was pretty involved toward the end of my dad's life. I was very much there with my mom, helping out, and took on the role of caretaker. I had to put my life on hold,” she says. “Violet was very much not there and had her dad deal with everything, and I think both [experiences] are extremely valid.” Still, there are some days when Bloomgarden’s grief aligns more with Violet’s, and she questions her numbness, her dark humor, her dry eyes. “Grief is awkward. Grief is messy. And your early twenties are awkward, and your early twenties are messy too,” she says. “Combining those two things, it's a wild ride.”
The premiere of The Resort is undoubtedly a bittersweet day for Bloomgarden, who never got to tell her father about her big break. “Miss you papa,” she captioned a video of them dancing on her Instagram story. But she takes solace in the memory of telling her father about a different job she booked—and knows that he would be immensely proud. “I will always have that memory in my head of him,” she says. “Hopefully, if I continue to book jobs, I can always go back to that and know that he is celebrating.”
The morning after our chat, it’s clear that Bloomgarden did in fact figure it all out. She shares a snapshot on her Instagram story, decked out in an edgy black dress held together with metal rings, her mane of curls framing her face. And, as promised, she looks chic as fuck.