Happy Endings, ABC's new comedy about a group of friends trying to keep the gang together after a devastating wedding fiasco, is a breeding ground of quirky characters. And one of these quirky characters is portrayed by an actress completely playing outside her comfort zone, who didn't even want the part that she has now.
Eliza Coupe is known for playing the crass tomboy type (like Denise in Scrubs), but in Happy Endings, she takes on the role of neurotic and doting wife Jane. Since Eliza is one of our top reasons to watch the show, we had to talk to her about her new acting direction and why Happy Endings is different from all those other "group o' friends" shows. All in only five questions!
What drew you to Happy Endings in the first place?
Eliza Coupe: I actually wasn't drawn to it. I was given a million scripts and that one came across at the same time as another one that was similar to it, and I remember being like, "No, I don't want to do another Friends. I am over it, I won't read it." But it kept coming around and my manager was like, "Seriously, you better read it." So I read half of it and I thought that it sounded good, but I didn't really pay attention to the Jane part because I thought I was going in for Alex. And at that point, I was still unsure about it all and I only really wanted to do something on HBO, because I am snobby. [Laughs.] And then the people at Happy Endings, David Caspe and Jonathan Groff, the show runner who was also a part of Scrubs, just asked me to meet with them. He didn't even ask me to audition, he just asked me to go in for a meeting to talk to them and I agreed. When I went in, I fell in love with all of them and we started talking about Alex the character, and all of a sudden they blindsided me and they started talking to me about the part of Jane. And I was like, "You mean the suburban wife? That I would never in a million years play!" And then they started saying that they would let me play her the way that I would want to and I got really in to it.
Jane is a character that's the complete opposite of your character from Scrubs. Do you enjoy playing her?
Well, what's funny is that I am naturally a tomboy. My mother had to force me to wear a dress when we went to church, and I never wore makeup until I met my manager in New York. I think I was 23 and I had never really worn makeup, because where I grew up you were a whore if you wore makeup. So playing the part of Jane, I didn't want to be this typical wife part, but as soon as we started all the people behind the show let us develop our characters and we had work sessions where we just improved our characters. The only downfall about playing Denise on Scrubs was that people thought I could only play the snarky sardonic part. Jane is very Waspy and she is basically my mother or my aunt, so I have a lot to draw from.
So, where do we go after the first couple episodes?
What's kind of great is that they didn't focus too much on getting Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) and Dave (Zachary Knighton) back together. I love how they are just seeing the aftermath of a breakup. We see into everyone's lives and we get a sense of who each character is and the wants and needs of each character and how we all interact with each other.
What can we expect from Jane as the season progresses?
We really see how competitive she is and how she likes to take every matter into her own hands. She can fix anything, she is a total people pleaser, she is controlling and she wants everything to be exactly how she wants it to be, and inevitably with anyone like that everything just falls apart. Anytime you try to micromanage something it falls apart, and it's funny to watch her come to that conclusion at the end of every episode. She tries to control and manipulate in her favor and it just completely backfires.
What shenanigans are in store for you and your onscreen husband (Damon Wayans Jr.)?
The last episode shows how we are a little dirty in bed. I think that Brad and Jane are f--king animals in bed. I think they're absolute crazy-town when it comes to sex. And I think that's really funny and exciting. Who knows what Brad actually does for a living but he makes a lot of money, and I am clearly not working so we're just that typical conservative kind of couple that just gets crazy in the bedroom. I think we kind of allude to that a little bit.