On the ABC comedy series Happy Endings, actress Elisha Cuthbert (best known for her role as Kim Bauer on 24) plays Alex, an everyday normal girl who remains friends with the guy she bailed on, on their wedding day. A year later, Alex and Dave (Zachary Knighton) are still trying to figure out just where their relationship stands, after a break-up that complicated the lives of all their mutual friends. Created by executive producer David Caspe, the series also stars Eliza Coupe as Jane, Adam Pally as Max, Damon Wayans Jr. as Brad and Casey Wilson as Penny.
During this recent interview to promote the show, Elisha Cuthbert talked about her favorite moment in an upcoming episode, her favorite episode of the series, how much fun she’s been having doing comedy, an outtake that she wishes had made it into the show, what she would like to see happen with the Alex and Dave relationship, and how she would love to have Kiefer Sutherland guest star as her character’s father. Check out what she had to say after the jump:
Question: What is one of your favorite moments from an episode that viewers have yet to see?
ELISHA CUTHBERT: There is one episode coming up where Penny (Casey Wilson) is trying to lie to a girlfriend that comes back from the past, and somehow gets the whole gang involved in this crazy lie that spirals into insanity. Basically, she has gotten me to pretend that I’m a lesbian, in order to keep the lie going. Of course, in Alex fashion, if she’s going to be a lesbian, she wants to go straight to the top, so she decides to be Ellen DeGeneres. So, for a full episode, I get to mimic and pretend to be Ellen DeGeneres, which was so much fun. It was so great to incorporate the physical comedy into it, with the dancing and that kind of stuff. It was outlandishly over-the-top. It was a lot of fun. I think the Ellen episode is going to turn out really great.
Do you have a favorite episode of the series?
CUTHBERT: I loved the Halloween episode. For each one of us, we got something really unique, story wise, and everyone was really funny and strong. For some reason, it ended up coming together and connecting so well. I know I’m a little biased ‘cause I’m on the show, but I feel like that was one of the best Halloween episodes I’ve seen in awhile. I was really proud of what we did with that episode. It was a challenge, having to play Marilyn Monroe and a dude, at the same time, and having to talk that way for a full week. I ended up having a pretty rough weekend, and drank a lot of tea to get my voice back. But, it was worth it because, looking back and watching it, it did turn out really nice. We’ve all had to suffer for the comedy on the show, at some point or another.
Having such a varied acting background, what’s it like for you to do spontaneous comedy?
CUTHBERT: It’s a totally different style and a different pace. We broke for three weeks for Christmas and I came back and it took me two days to get back into the pace and speed, keeping up with the rest of the actors because I do come from a more subdued, subtle form of acting. But, I like to be right up there with them. It’s been a lot of fun. Even though it’s different, I’m comfortable in it. I feel like I belong and it’s good. But, it’s going to be interesting, if we get a third season, to come back in and get my brain back into the pace of doing comedy and improv. Surrounding myself with these actors, it’s like this improv and stand-up comedian class, all happening at the same time. I’m learning a lot, and it’s been really, really a lot of fun.
Was there a particular scene that didn’t make it in, that you wish everyone had gotten to see?
CUTHBERT: Yes, I have one. When me and Damon [Wayans Jr.] were in the movie theater, we had a lot of takes that didn’t make it that I think will probably end up on the DVD or something. There was one line that I had come up with, in an improv, that was too dirty for TV. I was eating a big breakfast and Damon’s character said, “Where does it all go? You must have a tapeworm,” because the character eats so much. And I improved, “You mean my body pet?” It was gross. Alex would befriend her tapeworm and name him. It got a little gross, so that never made it. But, I loved it. I thought it was hilarious, but it didn’t make the cut.
Where does the relationship with Dave (Zachary Knighton) go? Is Alex still worried about people finding out about them sleeping together and what they’ll think of it?
CUTHBERT: No. I think that whole thing of hiding it was not so much about regretting doing that and going back to the well, but I think it was more about we had come so far in getting a relationship together, outside of the romantic relationship. I think the bottom line was that she didn’t want to ruin that dynamic that we’d worked so hard to get back. But, for Season 3, I’m on the fence, in the way that I feel like we could go into Season 3 and not be romantically connected and it would work, or we could also come back and see them as a couple again, for however long they decide to do that. I think a lot of funny stuff would come out of that, too. And then, there’s Penny and that love triangle. I feel like, if the writers want to go in that direction, or in the direction of us being together or separate, all three are going to be interesting and are always going to have the possibility of, at some point.
Is there anyone you’d love to see come on the show?
CUTHBERT: The thing that I think would be really cool would be to have Kiefer [Sutherland] come on and play my dad. We’re not necessarily close to doing it, but I think it would be good timing for Season 3, for him to come on. If we would have done it in the first season, it would have looked like we needed him to prove a point. This season, it could have worked. We don’t want him to feel like we want him on the show to make fun of him, or have it be awkward or weird. I think he would be a great fit, and I think a lot of people would like to see it. I know I would. It’s just a matter of [working it out] with his new show. It was actually his idea. When we ran into each other to talk about the 24 movie a little bit, I said to him, “We’re doing the comedy [on the backlot],” and he said, “I can’t believe you went and did a comedy. That’s such a different approach to what we did together. It’s something totally different and new.” I said, “It’s been really great, and the schedule is really easy.” I was just pumping it up. And he said, “I should come on and be your dad!” And I was like, “Seriously?! You will get a call, so you better answer that phone.” So, it was his idea, originally. That’s a good start. But, who knows. We’ll see. He’s a busy guys. But, I think it would be great.
Was it a conscious decision for you to do a comedy now?
CUTHBERT: Yeah. I was terrified of the idea of coming back to do TV, and doing another one-hour drama and feeling like I had to live up to 24. I just felt like, “What’s going to rival that? That’s going to be difficult.” Also, my character on 24 was so distinctive and always in peril. The idea of going on and playing a doctor, or something, for another six years was just not really something I felt like I wanted to do. So, the comedy thing was the only thing left, really, that I hadn’t done and that was challenging enough to stay interesting, if we were lucky enough to get on a show that was going to go for six years. I just felt like it was the right move. Now, that took two years to happen, but patience and sticking with what I felt was right, as far as a career move went, made it well worth the wait ‘cause here I am, on a terrific show that I’m proud of, and just as proud of as my work on 24.
Have you ever had any moments on the show that felt really daunting because they were so crazy?
CUTHBERT: Yes, me playing Marilyn Monroe with a man’s voice. When I got that script, I was terrified ‘cause I thought, “How am I going to make this believable and have it not look like a joke?” We tested my regular voice, and then them altering it, and ultimately they never altered it. They ended up using my real performance. That was like, “Oh, my god, this is crazy!” Also, the producers saw me and were like, “She doesn’t look like a guy! How did the boobs happen?” But then, we showed them pictures of how great some of these drag queens look and how difficult it is to tell the different. So, that was a little out there, but having all the right conversations to bring it down and make it work, it ultimately ended up working out great. And then, after that, it was a free-for-all ‘cause I was game to do anything. I was like, “If we can pull that off, we can pull anything off, really.” We’ve all had our crazy, “What?! No! No way!,” moments.
If you could write anything for Alex, what would it be?
CUTHBERT: That’s interesting. I don’t know. I’m blown away, every time we get the scripts and they’ve come up with something funny for me to do. When I started this show, I was just so happy to be on a comedy and I thought maybe I would get one joke a week. I was really okay with that, and with the concept of letting the rest of them be funny and getting maybe one little zinger, here and there. But, the fact that they’ve seen that I’m game to do whatever is great. Casey [Wilson] always says, “You’re like a new comedian. You’ll do anything for a joke.” And, she’s right. I’m really in that newbie phase where I will do anything for a laugh. I’m so happy to be able to do the comedy thing, just as much as the rest of the group. If they can keep writing me funny stuff, I’m going to keep trying to bring it. Hopefully, it stays that way.
Happy Endings airs on Wednesday nights on ABC.