Christine Quinn Of Netflix's 'Selling Sunset' On Playing The Villain And Season Two
"I went into the first season thinking the show was about real estate, but now I realize it wasn’t."
Netflix hit the jackpot in 2019 with the debut of its reality series Selling Sunset. Centered around the lives of the extremely hot and successful real estate agents of the elite Hollywood brokerage The Oppenheim Group, Selling Sunset takes the appeal of early-aughts gem MTV Cribs and injects it with contemporary reality television chaos. Audiences get the best of both worlds; vicarious access to the glimmering luxury housing options of Los Angeles’ most wealthy residents and dialed up, catty office drama that is straight up searing.
The Oppenheim Group is run by what could easily be a reality show producer’s wildest fever dream: sleek, bald twins (Jason and Brett Oppenheim) with a Hollywood empire on their minds. But Selling Sunset’s true jewel is the brokerage’s big shot agent, Christine Quinn. She’s the apotheosis of a reality star; the icy blonde towers over her bosses and co-workers, has killer looks on lock, and can either eviscerate or make the room crack up, depending on the situation.
Quinn emerged from the show’s first season as both the comic relief and the villain. The former is canon; Quinn’s reaction faces and quick wit indisputably carry the show. She’s also at the center of the season’s main conflict turned screaming match with her deer-in-the-headlights fellow agent, Chrishell Stause. Quinn feels she got the short end of the stick when it came to the first season’s final edits, so for Selling Sunset’s second season she opted for a different approach. “I went into the first season thinking the show was about real estate, but now I realize it wasn’t,” she explains, speaking from her West Hollywood home during California’s lockdown. “It’s about how you can entertain the people. I didn’t really worry about real estate in season two, I was just like ‘I’m going to be myself, dress fabulous, and be funny.’ That’s all people are going to remember, and it’s just so much better.”
And naturally, she delivers. Her first appearance in the new season sets the scene for the haters; Quinn descends from a private plane from her Eat, Pray, Love world travels (“But with five-star resorts, obviously,” she cracks to the camera) with her then freshly minted fiancé, now husband, businessman Christian Richard. The new season also cements her place as a rare breed in reality television as someone who is triumphant on and off screen. She commands attention, from her couture Barbie fits to hysterical confessionals, all while snagging six-figure commission checks from her lucrative listings. All in a day’s work.
What’s going on with work during quarantine? You can’t exactly hold open houses right now.
We’re not doing any open houses for sure. I would still do safe distance showings if they came up, but right now people just don’t have confidence in the market and they’re not even interested in real estate. We really don’t have a lot going on, it’s really come to a standstill in terms of work. People want to see what’s going to happen.
How did you become a selling powerhouse to begin with? Can you walk me through your journey?
I moved to Los Angeles around seven years ago for acting and modeling actually. I got really lucky, the first job I ever did I was SAG and I had a billboard on Sunset [Boulevard] for this silly movie that I did that was actually pretty big. It was called Shark Night 3D. I was doing really well booking lots of acting gigs for about three years, and then it kind of just hit a standstill. It was really hard as a blonde girl with blue eyes to get work because the industry was changing. I wasn’t getting modeling or acting gigs anymore, so I had to reevaluate my life. At the time Jason was a friend of mine, and I saw him doing really well. I thought it was cool that he was basically his own boss, which is what I always wanted to be. He was working his own hours, he was doing whatever he wanted when he wanted to do it, and he was getting paid a lot of money. I couldn’t believe it! I was like, “I need to get in on this. Tell me your secrets, tell me everything.” He was like, “Just study for the real estate exam, take three months and get back to me.” So I studied in three weeks, I took the test and I passed the exam and I was like, “I’m ready!” He was like “What?! And you passed?”
I loved when you nonchalantly mentioned getting an Adderall prescription for the test last season.
It’s true! Of course, absolutely! No bullshit! I just popped some Adderall, and I was good to go. I was like fucking Rain Man. The rest is kind of history. It took me a while to get clients, but I was doing everything I could. Then it just took off after a few years.
How many deals are you closing per year?
It really depends. I go off of how big the listing is. For example, if I close on a six million dollar house, I’m going to take a break for a little while, I’m going to take it easy. I like to enjoy the fruits of my labor! If I close on two million dollar houses, I’m obviously going to keep working. Probably like five deals a year.
Right off the bat in season one you got the villain edit. Did that come as a surprise?
It really did. As I was watching season one, there were a lot of surprises. There were a lot of fed lines. One of the lines that I didn’t want to say was, “Bitch doesn’t even cook!” That became a really popular line. I guess I’m glad I said it, but I don’t want people to think that’s the way I talk to my clients because I don’t. I was really, really surprised going back watching things because they really did me dirty. They really, really did. Davina [Potratz] and I both really got read to filth in the editing room.
That’s why I’m really excited about season two. We were really careful about what we did and said. They tell you to do and say things and we didn’t know to say no. Now in season two, we know to say no. Because people really do take this seriously. I got a lot of letters and death threats, it was really bad. There were certain things the editors promised they wouldn’t put in, like the dementia comment. That’s just how I talk. I have a sense of humor. I’m not used to being on television like this. There were certain things where I had trust in production, but they didn’t have our backs. I was really surprised seeing the way they portrayed me.
They took out a lot of my real estate to replace it with other stuff. I had a seventeen million dollar listing at the time, which was the biggest listing a female had had at the office, but they didn’t want to show it because it was an hour away. They didn’t want to pay for the crew to drive all the way out there. It was really frustrating. I went into the first season thinking the show was about real estate, but now I realize it wasn’t. It’s about how you can entertain the people. I didn’t really worry about real estate in season two, I was just like “I’m going to be myself, dress fabulous, and be funny.” That’s all people are going to remember, and it’s just so much better.
You definitely drop some memorable one-liners that I can see people taking personally.
It’s frustrating because I have this sense of humor that’s very witty, and it takes an intellectual person to understand and laugh at it. My humor is not fart humor, so not everyone really gets it. When I said, “I’m gonna Bobby Fischer the shit out of this!” in season one, most people didn’t get that comment. But the people that did thought it was so funny.
At the start of season two things are still not chill with Chrishell…
No, not at all. To this day she still doesn’t talk to me. When we were filming, she wouldn’t even be in the same room with me for the first couple of months. Our first big scene we shot was at a party and they wanted me to go sit down and talk with her and she kept running away from me. The producers were like, “Go sit down and talk with her, this needs to stop!” They were getting really irritated with her. It was difficult. She didn’t want to be in any scenes with me, she didn’t want to talk to me. They would schedule our office scenes at different times. It was really ridiculous.
She likes to be the victim and really loves to get sympathy from the audience. That’s just kind of how she goes about things. I don’t go about it that way. I’m a strong person, I apologize, I own up to the things that I do, I tell people how I feel. Her and I have a lot of differences. I reached out to her so many times and she just threw me under the rug. I think that she always knew me as competition. I don’t think it was about the pool party, I think it was so much more. She never liked me from the get-go, that was just a convenient excuse.
What else are you excited for fans to see in the new season?
I’m so stoked for fans to see the gorgeous house that my friend Davina got. It’s the biggest listing that anyone in The Oppenheim Group has ever had to date. It’s this stunning $83 million house in Beverly Hills. It’s beautiful. I’m also excited for the relationships of the real friend group. You can see me, Heather, Davina, and Maya interacting and being real, just loving each other and laughing. Also my husband’s on the show, I’m engaged in season two. I’m excited for everyone to see a new chapter of my life. In the first season I’m single, and right after we wrapped the last episode I met him. It was kind of serendipitous timing.
I saw pictures from your wedding, and it was goth as hell. Why did you end up going with that theme? Are you a goth at heart?
I’ve always loved horror movies. I love dark things, I love skulls. I have skull knick-knacks all over my house. I’ve always loved very avant-garde things. My house is going to be painted black soon. I love to be different. I have this very glamorous, glitzy goth style. I’ve always wanted to get married in a black wedding dress. Since we got married in December, I really wanted it to snow. So I thought what if we did a twisted, wicked wonderland? I got there and my jaw dropped. I was planning it and knew it would be incredible, but being there was a whole different thing. The ceremony started out white, everything was white. We had these huge LED screens covering the walls of the cathedral that were showing a white winter wonderland. It was super ethereal. We had white swans in ponds in this huge cathedral church. It was fucking nuts.
We got married, it started snowing. For the cocktail hour we had ice couches with furs, huge ice statues, and ice gargoyle luges. When we came back inside, Phantom of the Opera was playing. The whole entire room was transformed black, the LED screens turned into thunderstorms, there was fog, the white swans were replaced with black swans. It was an acid trip of a wedding.
That’s Disneyland levels of production.
There were 80 people working who transformed that room in an hour. It’s unheard of, and they pulled it off.
How did you meet your husband?
I met him through a girlfriend of mine. One of my best friends went on a date with this guy, but wasn’t into him. She was like, “He’s not for me, he’s really intellectual, he’s talking about the economy and Bitcoin.” I was like, “Okay, I’ll meet him!” So we went on a date and the rest is history. He’s so amazing. We started looking for a house and we got the house of our dreams together.
It’s a funny story because we were traveling in Switzerland and this house came on the market that was so beautiful and so stunning. I was like, “We have to go see this house! It just had a huge price reduction, what’s going on!” We flew back to see it, and as we walked up to it I realized it was a house that I used to have the listing on years ago. I used to sit in that house every Sunday and envision myself living there. I’m sitting in the house that I used to imagine myself living in years prior.
You make a big point about how style is super important to you and in this season your outfits are truly next level. What’s your favorite fashion piece you’ve ever gotten?
I love the exotic. PETA come kill me, I don’t really care. Everytime I travel, I love to get something really cool that’s unique to that country. I was in Germany and I got the most amazing crocodile bag. So for me it’s the pieces that are so out there that I get to keep for the rest of my life. With my wardrobe, sometimes I’ll wear Balmain, and sometimes I’ll wear Forever 21 and wear a Gucci blazer over it. It doesn’t really matter. I can make my wardrobe look like a million dollars. That’s easy to do with anyone. I love purses, they’re my thing. Collecting exotic purses is so fun for me. I want to keep those and pass them down to my little girls when they’re older. For me it’s just purses!
You’ve also mentioned on the show how you were an outcast growing up, which is interesting because you seem like a life-long alpha. What was growing up like for you?
I was really different. I had a growth spurt and was 5’9” in the sixth grade. I was really tall and really skinny. I didn’t understand why girls would make fun of me all the time. I used to really want to be short, I was so disgusted by my height. It fucked with me, I got a lot of complexes about it. I was in theater, I was a total fucking nerd. It wasn’t cool to be in theater at all. I was with the theater nerds, I was with the gay kids. I didn’t have a lot of girlfriends. All the things I hated are what’s cool now, like my sense of humor. I was always a class clown, and that wasn’t appreciated. I would get in trouble all the time, but now it’s something people wish they had. I won’t say I was bullied because it’s such a stupid word. I wasn’t bullied, but people were confused. They were like, “Why is this pretty girl such a fucking nerd?” People were just mean.
Even though you got the mean girl edit, you still come off as very sociable, honest, and like a ride-or-die friend. You’re also unfazed by confrontation, and yet more than capable of being apologetic when the occasion calls for it. It made me curious to know your astrological sign.
I am a Libra. I’m really balanced with my emotions. You’ll never hear me scream. Even if I’m mad at someone, I’ll be like, “Okay, you’re a bitch.” Libras are also social butterflies and get along with everyone. Believe it or not, Libras don’t like confrontation. I’m here for the tea for sure, I’m not here for confrontation, but I will finish it.
Libras are also good at diffusing tensions and being diplomatic, which checks out because you’ve dished out a few genuine apologies on the show.
I’ll be the first person to be like, “Oh my gosh, I fucked up.” I apologize all the time because I do genuinely mean it. I can own up to things I did wrong and I think it’s a really rare trait for people to have. I’m grateful that I have it.
This is a niche L.A. real estate question. What's the deal with Jay Luchs? He’s everywhere!
Oh my god! It’s actually funny, Jay Luchs is a real estate agent. When I first started real estate, he was in my class studying to be a broker. A broker is a more advanced real estate agent, it means you can have your own agency and have people work under you. It’s a more prestigious agent. He was taking his test when I was taking my test, and we became buddy-buddy. He’s in the commercial space all over. He’s quite a successful commercial broker. He knows everyone and he’s everywhere. He’s really killing it.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.