24 star says working on Happy Endings is as fun as it looks
Much like a trashier version of Friends, but without the coffee shop, this fun new show stars Zachary Knighton (Bone, The Hitcher) and Elisha Cuthbert (Kim Bauer in 24) as a couple who have been together for years and share the same friends. Yet at their wedding – at the altar, no less – she runs off with a man on rollerblades. Naturally this throws up all sorts of problems in the group, but the friends will do anything to stay together. We pinned down frontwoman Elisha Cuthbert to learn more about her career and how the show addresses personal concerns in love, friendship and life.
After starring in 24 since 2001, were you sorry to see the show come to an end? It was bittersweet. I mean, it’s been such a constant thing in the past 10 years, I have nothing but fond memories and I love all the cast. They’ve seen me from 18 years old growing into an adult, they’ve all watched my career blossom and it’s been a lovely experience. It’s more than just a TV show for me. It’s been a life journey and experience and I’ll never forget it.
Well, you went from playing Kim as a teenager to a married mum. Yeah, absolutely. Giving Kiefer Sutherland some grandchildren on the show.
Were you ready to take a break from drama when you took on the sitcom role in Happy Endings? I felt like I was at this place where I’d spent a lot of time doing one-hour drama and just wanted something different. When you go into TV there’s always that possibility you could spend the next six years of your life doing this one project and, to me, if you’re going to go into it with that expectation and hope, then it’s got to be something you’re excited about and you want to come to work every day to do.
With any ensemble series, the chemistry of the cast can make or break the series. How do you all get on? That was my biggest concern, because the show is based on the friendship and relationship between these six characters. I made sure to get everyone together beforehand: we went out a couple of times for dinner and I had group night with just the girls. We made sure we did things to connect on a level outside of the set and read-throughs and the chaos of putting the pilot together. Everyone is so great and has been so open and nice that it didn’t take too long to gel. I can’t believe it’s possible that it’s getting better and better than our time during the pilot, which I thought was a blast.
Were you nervous working with a group of skilled comic actors? How supportive have they been? I was constantly learning from them. The fearlessness they displayed was incredible. When you’re in comedy and lucky enough to be surrounded by people who will catch you if you fall, it breeds good stuff. They made me feel extremely comfortable and they certainly didn’t have to. I give them a lot of credit for accepting me into the group even though they have a lot more experience in comedy than I do.
How much of your real-life personality do you put into the character? Off set, I’m goofy and joking around and having a good time, and I saw that get incorporated into Alex’s character, which was terrific. They really saw that I wanted to make her crazy and funny and light-hearted – and a little dumb at times, too. It was nice to contribute to comedy as much as everyone else; it was a really nice surprise.
There have been comparisons to Friends – this is a show about six attractive young people, after all. What seems to set Happy Endings apart is the show’s willingness to make its characters look bad. None of them really have a clue what they’re doing with their lives, even though they act like they do, and I think that makes it funny but also very easy to relate to. It’s not a broad comedy, it’s not slapstick; the characters are all very real and the comedy naturally flows through that.