Elisha Cuthbert on Going Gay for “One Big Happy” and Making Ellen Laugh

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Five years ago, no one really knew how funny Elisha Cuthbert was or could be. Up until her 2011 role on Happy Endings, most of her work on television and film was quite serious—from playing Kim Bauer on 24, to her sexpot parts in The Girl Next Door and Love Actually. But it was on the ABC comedy that the 32-year-old actress flexed her funny as the affable Alex Kerkovich. The hilarious show ended after only three seasons, but perhaps the one positive to come from its too-soon cancellation is that Elisha is now playing a leading lesbian character, Lizzy, on NBC’s One Big Happy.

Lizzy is loosely based on the life of Liz Feldman, the out creator of the show, and the major storyline is about her male best friend (played by Nick Zano), who planned to have a baby with Liz until he met the love of his life (Kelly Brook as Prudence). Elisha talked with us about finding her character, working with executive producer Ellen DeGeneres, and being the mama bear on set.

AfterEllen: I remember talking to you a couple of years ago here for Happy Endings, and we talked about how you’ve worked with Jamie Babbitt on The Quiet.


Elisha Cuthbert:
That’s right, I remember that conversation. We should have Jamie come on and direct one of the episodes if we get to do more. That’s a brilliant idea. And actually, Liz Feldman and I ran into Clea DuVall, who I am a huge fan of, and we’re like, “Please come on and play my girlfriend!” Wouldn’t that be amazing? She’s like “Sitcom? I don’t know if I can do it!” I told her, “You’re such a brilliant actress—I know it’s not normally our format, but it’s so much fun once you do it.” It’s so much fun! And it’s terrifying. But it’s fun!

 

AE: So how do you like doing a show like this compared to Happy Endings? Do you like it better or is it just different?

EC: I don’t want to say I like it better, because I had so much fun on Happy Endings, but I will tell you that the schedule is really incredible. The process of doing the show has been so much fun. It’s been a challenge, but it’s so gratifying when you get to Friday tape night and you get through it and you get to the end and you get to the finish line and you’re like, “Score! I did it!” And you’re so proud of yourself, you know? So it’s a little bit more rewarding because of that instant gratification that happens. On Happy Endings, we were just a bunch of friends, goofing around. I mean obviously working our butts off and trying to be as funny as possible, but we didn’t know how people were reacting until after the fact. I mean we’re still discovering how much people loved it. Whereas on this show, you understand exactly what you’re doing at all times.

 

AE: It’s definitely different but there’s a similar kind of humor to it, and you seem to be a family on this show already as well. Does One Big Happy share that kind of vibe, where you and your cast mates are all so close that it comes through on screen?

EC: Yeah, I mean we did a lot of partying [on Happy Endings]. [laughs] Which is, you know— maybe it’s good we only went three years. It’s a new family, it’s a new group, and we do a lot of—we have a lot of fun during the rehearsal of it because when it gets to tape night, it’s down to business, because we’re putting on a show for the audience. We have a little bit of fun after, but our time is Monday through Thursday when we’re hashing it out and no one’s around. We can get it on its feet, so it’s fun. But you know what? We’re having a really good time, and Kelly’s become a really good friend, and Nick and I were close from Happy Endings. It’s almost like I still get a little piece of it.

One Big Happy

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