Broadway darling turned TV and movie star Kristin Chenoweth is known for her comedic timing and signature soprano voice. But back in 2012, her career was put on pause when an accident on the set of CBS' The Good Wife left her with severe injuries. Chenoweth has spoken out about the physical and emotional toll the incident continues to have on her, and also addressed how CBS made her feel "intimidated" in the aftermath. Now, the actor is speaking out again—this time to say that she regrets not pursuing legal action against the network. Read on to find out why Chenoweth wishes she'd handled things differently.
Chenoweth described the moments leading up to the incident.
During a Jan. 16 appearance on Andy Cohen's talk show Watch What Happens Live (WWHL), Chenoweth recounted the 2012 incident, which happened while filming on location in Brooklyn, New York.
Chenoweth told Cohen that she was on a street corner by a 7-Eleven on National Free Slurpee Day—which occurs annually on July 7—when a piece of lighting equipment knocked her to the ground.
"I was going to get a Slurpee that day—it was Free Slurpee Day," she said. "I heard like a flagpole sound, and I literally heard [someone say], 'We're losing the light,' and I heard 'action,' and I woke up at Bellevue [Hospital]."
"It hit me in the face and it threw me into a curb," she added, resulting in a "seven-inch skull fracture, a hairline [fracture], teeth, and ribs.
She said she was "practically killed."
Chenoweth's injuries were severe, with the actor going so far as to say she was "practically killed." Even so, she didn't pursue legal action against CBS. Cohen asked about this decision, specifically, noting he was "kind of amazed" Chenoweth didn't "try to get some cash from them."
In response, Chenoweth said she "didn't do it out of fear and anxiety," cautioning others not to make the same mistake and "let fear ruin your life."
Cohen then asked if she regretted this decision, and Chenoweth nodded in response, adding that she has "longstanding injuries" from the accident. At the time, close family actually encouraged her to sue.
"I wished I had listened to my dad, who said, 'You're gonna wanna do this,'" Chenoweth recalled. "We're not the suing family, but when you're practically killed…"
Chenoweth discusses the accident in her new book, I'm No Philosopher, But I Got Thoughts: Mini-Meditations for Saints, Sinners, and the Rest of Us. During her interview on WWHL, she confirmed that since sharing her experience, she hasn't heard anything from CBS.
She credited something surprising for saving her life.
While the situation has certainly been traumatic for Chenoweth, in her recent WWHL appearance, she was able to share some details about what really saved her life that day.
According to Chenoweth, her doctor asked what the "metal things" were in her hair, and she told him they were extensions. "My hair extensions—it made the hairline fracture go together," she explained, adding that her doctor told her they saved her life.
Offering some lighthearted advice, Chenoweth joked, "So, anyone who wants to get hair extensions should, for your health."
Chenoweth previously discussed her hesitancy to go up against CBS.
In the immediate aftermath of the accident, CBS did issue a formal statement, saying that a gust of wind was responsible for knocking the lighting down and sending well wishes to Chenoweth from the studio and The Good Wife cast and crew.
For her part, Chenoweth announced that she was unable to continue her guest role due to her injuries—but didn't share much beyond that. However, she later revealed her thoughts in an essay for the 2022 collection My Moment: 106 Women on Fighting for Themselves, confiding that she was initially afraid to talk about it.
"I was advised by a couple of folks on my team and outside of my team too that it would be unwise to attempt to hold CBS accountable for what was clearly their responsibility … I was told that I'd never work again if I sued a major network," she wrote, per an excerpt published in Marie Claire. "And that scared me. I let fear take over and did what so many people do—especially women—in the face of going up against someone or something more powerful than they are. I shrunk."
Chenoweth also said she didn't want to look "weak and broken" by talking about it, but as her injuries and chronic pain persisted, she worked past fear and got mad. "The injustice of it all finally began to take up more space inside of me than the fear did," she said. Additionally, the CBS executives at the helm in 2012, who "did not take responsibility" for what happened, also made their exit. Chenoweth noted this and said that "leadership matters," calling the new regime "just lovely to work with."