“Happy Endings” is back for a third season on ABC, and if you’re still catching up, the second season is now on DVD too.
We got to meet Elisha Cuthbert at the Television Critics Association party for "Happy Endings," inside a circle of food trucks including Steak Me Home Tonight from the show. Cuthbert may still be best known as Jack Bauer’s daughter Kim on “24,” but she’s cracking us up as Alex Kerkovich on “Happy Endings.”
CraveOnline: Have you enjoyed letting your goofier side out on “Happy Endings?”
Elisha Cuthbert: Oh yeah. We laugh about how we get paid to be goofballs all day. I mean, it’s ridiculous. It’s so amazing.
CraveOnline: Have you added a lot of your own physicality and facial tics to Alex?
Elisha Cuthbert: Yeah, also last season you know how people say there’s like defining moments in your life. I think the defining moment in this character was last season when [“Happy Endings” creator] David Caspe who had come up to me in the first episode of season two and said, “You’ve got an opportunity here. There was something that you did last year when we were filming off camera. This works in this scene. Will you do it?”
I stopped and I was like okay, here’s the moment. If I do this and it goes well, then maybe we have something here as far as separating me from the group, because it is a really kind of crazy thing to be doing on television. But if it bombs, this is the end of it. I thought I’ve got to just go for it. I’ve got to go for it and I went for it and then that working set me up to kind of go anywhere, any crazy place I wanted to go with the character at that point.
It was like no holds barred after that. So that was a really defining moment and that was triggered by David Caspe going, “I saw you do this off camera. You do this and it’s up to you if you want to do it or not, and I took it.” It was great, really set the tone.
CraveOnline: Was it a defining moment for Alex too?
Elisha Cuthbert: And for me. Yeah, I guess you’re right because I knew I could do it, but how do I break in? With all these brilliant comedians, you sit there and go what’s my schtick, what’s my thing? And it becomes resting on that one moment. You can either take it or you can let it go.
CraveOnline: Was being “the one who’s a little behind the joke” your thing for a while?
Elisha Cuthbert: Well, not so much. Even though I look at it as it’s an extreme enthusiasm that kind of exhausts the other characters but keeps me going. You watch them and they’re, “Really? Are you serious?” And I’m like, what? I don't know what you’re talking about. I approach everything because I don’t play her dumb and I don’t play her one step behind. I just play her really optimistic.
CraveOnline: It’s not being dumb, but you maybe don’t catch on to their rhythms, like when you say, “Maybe you should force yourself – - wait that doesn’t work.”
Elisha Cuthbert: No, I just think I don’t care. I’m just in my own little world I think. Just really again the enthusiasm and I think maybe that also comes from my enthusiasm for getting to do this and getting to try this new thing that is comedy and having success at it. It’s awesome.
CraveOnline: Do you have any physical comedy role models?
Elisha Cuthbert: Inspirations I’d say. There’s characters that have come before me, the likes of Phoebe and Betty White on “The Golden Girls,” Rose. Rhoda from “Mary Tyler Moore,” Chrissy from “Three’s Company.” They’ve come before and they’ve done it so well so you can watch shows and learn and come up with timing.
Maybe some played it a little dumber than others and they honed in on certain aspects of it, so I’m finding my own path but there’s been so much inspiration for me to go there and even to prepare myself, I’m just saying where I get my inspiration from.
CraveOnline: Have you been working any of Penny’s words into your vocabulary?
Elisha Cuthbert: No, no. We do enough of that on set. On the off time we try to stay away from all that.
CraveOnline: Will the Kerkovich Way rear its head again?
Elisha Cuthbert: Oh, I’m sure and I think the Kerkovich parents are coming which is going to be exciting.
CraveOnline: Has anyone called about the 24 movie?
Elisha Cuthbert: Yeah, well we were going to do it last summer. We had everything geared up and we were really this close and then [Kiefer Sutherland] was busy [with “Touch”]. He wants to do it. It’s just to fit it in, it’s ultimately up to the big guy.
CraveOnline: He says it’s penciled in for next spring now.
Elisha Cuthbert: Yeah, but he always says it when he’s got something coming out. Have you ever noticed that? We always talk about the movie when we’ve got a show, a Broadway show, the movie’s coming. We’ve got a new show, the movie’s coming. And he’s done it to me. I’m like, “We’re doing it, we’re doing it.” I saw him at Paramount and we had a great conversation. He’s like, “Get ready.” Not doing it. It’s okay, it’s okay. You know what, it will happen. It will happen. The script’s there. He wants to do it. It’s just got to be the right timing and it’ll be there and the fans’ll be there. It’ll be all right.
CraveOnline: Have you ever run into Jon Cassar?
Elisha Cuthbert: I have run into him and he’s doing well. I’ve also run into Howard Gordon [who is] doing “Homeland” now. I’m just so proud of them and what they’ve done and what they’re doing. It’s great. I never thought I could go back to doing a dramatic thing because how can I live up to “24” and they’re doing even better. It’s unbelievable. That’s a task.
CraveOnline: Have they let you see the movie script yet?
Elisha Cuthbert: No, no. I know where I come into the story and where I come out and that’s about it.
CraveOnline: Did you work in the hiatus?
Elisha Cuthbert: I did not. You know, I was a little stressed until we got the call in May that we were getting picked up for a third season, but once I got that call, I was able to settle in and really enjoy the rest of my hiatus because I knew we had 22 ahead of us.
And it’s a lot of work. At this point in my life, I have to make room for my personal side and when I know the work is ahead, which is always very rare, but when I do know it’s ahead, I can sit back and really enjoy that. So I was in Canada since March and I just got back three days ago. So I’ve been in Canada this [whole time.]
CraveOnline: When was the last time you were home that long?
Elisha Cuthbert: Probably the year prior knowing we only had the first 13, but I knew I had at least 13 and was hoping for more. Yeah, it’s really a dream to be able to do both. To have both lives, to have my personal life and then to go back to the professional life and have it work and meld well is just great.