#3.18 – “She Got Game Night” – Brad and Jane host a couples game night with Penny, Pete, Max and Scotty and the competitiveness gets a little out of hand, prompting Penny to make an unexpected move. Meanwhile Dave has a big decision to make on the career front, and Alex tries to help but they end up at a psychic instead.
#3.17 - ”Bros Before Bros” – With the wedding coming up, Penny decides to reach out to her estranged dad Roy (guest star Andy Richter). The reunion is sufficiently awkward but Alex encourages Penny to be optimistic, while Jane is more skeptical. Meanwhile, Dave enlists Brad and Max’s help in sabotaging “The Brazilian” food truck, a.k.a. Dave’s #1 nemesis, but Max accidentally falls for the enemy’s son and has to choose between his best friend or boyfriend.
#3.16 – “The Incident” – When Max tries out Jane and Alex’s long-time hairdresser, Krisjahn (guest star RuPaul), he gets some good salon gossip on the girls, but his loose lips may cause World War III between the Kerkovitch sisters. Meanwhile, the Steak Me Home truck is stolen and Dave and Penny try to figure out whodunit — but are perplexed by what they find when they finally locate the thief.
The cast of “Happy Endings” has been really attentive at Television Critics Association parties. We caught up with Elisha Cuthbert last summer at the ABC party, but for winter we got her for a quick one-on-one interview.
It’s been a big season for Cuthbert’s character, Alex Kerkovich, including her reunion with Dave without telling her parents about it. We spoke with Cuthbert about her transition to comedy and some of the standout season three episodes of “Happy Endings.” CraveOnline: We’ve learned a lot more about Alex this season. What have been the funniest things for you to learn?
Elisha Cuthbert: I think not so much about Alex but for myself, how far I’ve come, how much more confidence I have playing this character and just participating in this amazing thing that is comedy. It’s just been such an amazing experience. I was on the phone with my manager today and he said, “I saw the parrot episode last week and I was cracking up. You’re so funny. Aren’t you glad you did this? Hasn’t this been such a great job?”
And I said, “It’s actually probably been one of my favorites for sure.” I just have learned so much about myself and have just had such a great ride.
Eliza Coupe on Improv and Learning Chinese for ‘Shanghai Calling’
Regardless of what it says on her Wikipedia page, Eliza Coupe does not have a background in improv comedy. “It’s funny that people say I studied at all these places because really, I never did,” she says. “I paid to put up my one-woman show at ImprovOlympic, only rehearsed a show at UCB, and only took one class at The Groundlings because I was told that I wasn’t good!”
Whoever said that must be eating their words now, because Eliza Coupe has turned out to be one of the strongest comedic actresses working in television today. From her two-season turn as Dr. Denise Mahoney on “Scrubs” to her hysterical portrait of Jane Kerkovich-Williams on ABC’s “Happy Endings,” Coupe has stolen scenes by committing fully to outrageous characters with loveable personalities.
And she’s not just doing that on the small screen. In her new film, “Shanghai Calling,” Coupe plays Amanda, a relocation specialist helping powerhouse attorney Sam (Daniel Henney) make the transition from life in New York City to life in China.
Coupe chatted with us about “Happy Endings” and what she’s learned about improvisation through the years.
We’ve bucked the myth about your improv background, but the “Happy Endings” cast is known for doing a lot of improv on set. How does that come into play when working on a scripted series?
Coupe: It’s much easier improving off of something that’s scripted. And we’re lucky to improv off of our work because the writing is so exceptional. You can’t improv off of bad writing. Then you have to actually create your objective, which is really hard to do in an element without the skeleton to go off of. With ‘Happy Endings,’ we all have our own storylines and arcs. If you improv off of random jokes, that’s not going to stay in the cut. It’s a 22-minute episode, and they have to stay on story. But if you improv off of the story and off of what your character’s intentions and needs are, that’s going to stay in because it’s only going to drive home the point to the audience in a more comedic way.
Life imitates art for actress Eliza Coupe in her upcoming indie ”Shanghai Calling.” The story focuses on a group of Americans who reboot their lives by starting over in China; Coupe has enjoyed her two consecutive roles playing biting blondes on TV — on “Scrubs” and now “Happy Endings” — but relocating to an exotic locale for the part of a sweet single mom gave the actress a powerful understanding of the expat appeal.
The pull of Shanghai notwithstanding, Coupe did return to the States, where we got the scoop on faking conversational Chinese, the dangers of playing too many a**holes, and more.
You didn’t speak Chinese at all before filming “Shanghai Calling,” right? But you speak quite a bit of it in the movie — and very convincingly! Did you actually learn any Chinese for the role, or did you memorize it phonetically? It’s impressive, either way.
I think if I remember correctly, I had just come back from a French lesson [when I got the role]. I learned the Chinese through Pinyin, which is phonetic. Oh my God, I could not write in Chinese characters by any stretch of the imagination. I kind of just learned my lines … I didn’t say the tones right, to begin with … I thought I was speaking Chinese, but … my assistant over there was always like, “I don’t know what you’re saying.” When I was really, really trying to just imitate and not really know what I was saying, I found that everyone knew what I was saying. But when I was really trying to actually speak it, it was like, “No, go back to imitating us.”
In college, I went to school for acting, we had to learn phonetics just to be able to do dialects and all that stuff. I’m somebody who does better just hearing it. I’ll just imitate it, and I get it better that way. When I know too much information, I’m not great. I used to play the piano by listening to it — like Chopin pieces, when I was like a little kid — and then the minute my parents got me lessons to read music, I couldn’t do it anymore.
“Happy Endings” Boss Teases Weddings & Break-Ups, Reacts to ‘Odd’ Save the Show Promo
Something ah-mah-zing is happening tonight at 8/7c on ABC: Happy Endings finally returns with new episodes!
But does the series’ recent two-month break and a move to dreaded Friday night spell doom for the ratings-challenged cult comedy?
“ABC truly loves the show and they tell us that all the time, and I completely believe them,” maintains executive producer David Caspe. However, television is a business, so “they have a lot of things to consider.” Still, he points out that “they obviously could have just canceled us and they haven’t. So I think it’s a testament that they’re trying to figure out a way to make it work.”
The network is even airing a “Save Happying Endings” promo, which may be a first for a bubble show.
“You got to hand it to them,” says Caspe. “That’s the most press that a promo has ever gotten that I’ve seen in my lifetime. … It’s quite effective. It might seem a little odd, but it’s kind of working.”
You know what else is effective in getting folks to tune in? The following scoop on this season’s remaining episodes, courtesy of the EP:
BABYNAPPING | Megan Mullally and Michael McKean return as Penny’s mom and Dave’s dad, respectively, and they’re still happily in love. In fact, “they’re actually thinking about adopting a baby, which throws Penny and Dave into a crazy tailspin that ends with them attempting to kidnap a baby.”
Eliza Coupe is best known from bringing the funny thanks to her sublime sitcom Happy Endings and so wrong it’s right webseries, Frenemies. But in her new movie, Shanghai Calling, Coupe proves her heart is as strong as her funny bone.
The fish out of water tale casts Coupe as Amanda, a relocation specialist who is tasked with helping Sam (played by Daniel Henney) acclimate to his new surroundings in Shanghai. But filming the movie on location in China led Coupe to wish she had an Amanda of her own.
In addition to opening up about this amazing moviemaking experience (as well as hooking ETonline up with an exclusive clip!), Coupe talks about the current season of Happy Endings and previews a couple fun surprises coming in the near future.
ETonline: Shanghai Calling actually filmed in China. Did that immersion help you step into the character’s shoes?
Eliza Coupe: Yes, and I’m going to steal that from you because that’s exactly how it felt. There’s nothing like being on location and throwing yourself into the world you’re representing. We were really there. My character was supposed to have been living there so she knew the language, but I had never been to China, so I felt more like Daniel’s character — which is funny because David’s lived in Asia a lot, so he ended up teaching me a lot in our off-time. But I have to say, filming this movie was one of the best experiences of my life.
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