You may remember her as Kim Bauer on the groundbreaking drama 24, but you’re about to see a different side of Elisha Cuthbert in her newest TV series, ABC sitcom Happy Endings. We had the chance to take part in a conference call with Elisha, who shared some of her thoughts and experiences on being part of a comedy ensemble, and some insight into her character, Alex.
Why did you decide to make the move from drama to comedy?
I think I felt like I did everything I needed to do in television with the one hour drama. I spent a lot of years working very hard and trying to bring this dramatic character to life. And I guess once that journey was over I sat for a really long time … like a year and a half going, you know, all of these one hour dramas are sort of coming at me and I just I didn’t sit well with it. And I just felt like what is this? Have I decided that I’m not interested in doing TV anymore? I was really questioning what it was that I was sort of going through. And I realized that I think I felt like I had completed this part of my acting career at this moment in time and really felt like there was one thing left to show and that was a lighter side of myself to the fans and to anyone that would watch.
I’m a pretty lighthearted person. With 24 you didn’t really get to smile all that much. So to be able to be a part of a show that I can show that part of me was exciting and also a challenge. And I think that’s what we need in our lives, you know, sort of like this challenge to keep things interesting. And after 17 years of acting I guess it was just – it was the next thing to conquer really.
What’s been your favourite part of playing this role so far?
I like doing the physical comedy. I’ve started to realize that I may not be as clever with the one liners as some of my other cast mates. I mean they are masters at what they do. But I feel like I really love really going outside of myself and doing things that I probably wouldn’t want to do or people would think I would be embarrassed to do.
But I feel like I’m here. I’m a part of this show. I’m a part of this comedy. This is what I’ve wanted to do and … I’m going to sort of be fearless in taking risks and doing some fun stuff. I feel like there’s a physical side of this comedy that I’m starting to realize is a whole lot of fun and I’m having fun doing it.
How would you say this comedy ensemble on Happy Endings is different from the dramatic ensemble on 24?
I think that there are a lot of differences. I mean it’s a totally different filming process. We shoot each episode in a week so it’s fresh and new. With 24, it took us two weeks. We did two episodes at a time, a lot of location work and so there was that difference. Also, the plot being the star of the show when you’re doing a one hour drama, because it’s really about the story and how you get to the finale of that story. With comedy it’s this collaborative thing where it’s about the characters. It’s not really about where they’re going every single minute of the show. It’s about the chemistry between us. And every week we sort of tackle someone else’s storyline.
With this being your first foray into a comedy series, did having co-stars known for comedy, especially ensemble comedy, help you transition into the show and the character?
I was actually really excited to get involved and to be a part of the show because it was so different from what I’ve been a part of. But at the same time I started to realize that our cast had a really strong comedic background, and I was a little terrified. How were they going to accept me into this group and … was I going to be sort of cast off in the corner. I was afraid that I’d be left out. But it was the exact opposite.
I have to say that even in the process of finding Alex and who this character is after she runs out on her wedding, I remember we shot a scene and it went really well. I felt really good about it. The crew was laughing. And I came back to my trailer and Adam Pally knocked on my door and said “You’ve really got to keep using that. Whatever that was you’ve got to keep doing it because that’s Alex.” I’ve gone to Casey Wilson and said I got two ways I can deliver this line. Can I throw them at you and tell me what you think? And she’d say, yes let’s do it.
They’ve been so incredible. And there’s a lot that you learn without even realizing it, subconsciously watching them and then their process. And the wheels are always constantly turning with them. I found myself doing the same thing and wanting to participate in that, finding new things and come up with fun stuff. So yes, they’ve been more than supportive. They’ve helped me through this process which is just incredible. They’re very good people and really good friends now because of it.
Did you find it challenging to make your character, Alex, likeable although she abandons her fiance at the altar? What is it about Alex that will make viewers sympathetic to her?
I put a lot of thought into how do I make this character not incomplete, a mess and people just write her off? I played it as truthfully as possible. The writing was so clever that it did the work for me because it makes you realize that it takes two to make a relationship work, and that yes I may have been the one to run out but we were having issues. And I think a lot of people can relate. I mean it’s an extreme thing to do but it was a fun way to kick the show off and a lot of people can relate and realize that. We’re all asking these questions and we’re all trying to figure out is this the right person and am I making the right decisions? Am I on the right path? It really is those underlying questions about love. So I think people can have a little sympathy for that.
Catch Elisha Cuthbert in the series premiere of ABC’s Happy Endings, Wednesday April 13th at 9:30pm, followed by another new episode in its regular time slot, 10pm.
Special thanks to Sandra Sadowski for taking the conference call on our behalf.
Photo Courtesy of ABC