'Happy Endings': Eliza Coupe Talks Stolen Birthday Thunder, Pinterest Rejection
The actress tells THR about Jane outing herself as a Christmas baby, going "full Gallagher" and how ABC's recent scheduling shuffle won't bring the cast down: "We just have to be patient. We're the little engine that could."
The controlling and often OCD heart of Happy Endings, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Jane (Eliza Coupe) is the kind of person who might fake her own birthday.
Tuesday's Christmas episode of the ABC comedy ("No Ho Ho") reveals that the character reluctantly shares her real big day with the baby Jesus. And in an attempt to give her a proper celebration, the gang overcompensates by trying erase all signs of the holiday... quite unsuccessfully.
"Like any great television show episode, it's sad in the beginning, she goes through a thing and then in 22 minutes she's happy again," Coupe tells The Hollywood Reporter. "TV is the best. I wish that's how life was."
It actually hits oddly close to home. Coupe's own birthday thunder has been stolen by Easter and, when she was really young, her older brother falling off of a 50-foot cliff.
Coupe, who frequently showcases her off-color humor on recurring Funny or Die shorts like Frenemies, also opened up about the show's evolution, her latest obsession (Pinterest) and the recent announcement that the Happy Endings third season will be slipping off the schedule earlier than originally planned.
The Hollywood Reporter: So Jane has been pulling a birthday con since she was a little kid?
Eliza Coupe: She's a Christmas baby, and she's hid it from everyone including her husband Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.). She doesn't want to share her birthday with a national holiday or the birth of Christ, so she decided her birthday is in July. She has a whole experience of walking around and feeling down, and then everybody makes her feel better.
THR: And along the way she finds other Christmas babies.
Coupe: Oh, it takes a real turn. They're angry. They want to go hurt things, and as much as Jane is a fighter, that's not her thing. But I do think Jane has her own fight club that nobody knows about. It would be so funny to watch her throw down. She has a lot of aggression to work out.
THR: Do you think you could give a convincing Fight Club performance?
Coupe: I grew up in New Hampshire with all brothers and was such a tomboy. My dad actually taught me to box when I was like nine years old, because I got picked on at school all of the time. I was on a boys hockey team, so I would get all of my aggression out there. I personally know how to fight, and I think Jane does too.
THR: Were there any other girls on your hockey team?
Coupe: You know, there was another girl on the hockey team, but she looked so much like a dude that I just say it was an all-boys team.
THR: Is your birthday overshadowed by anything?
Coupe: I'm an April baby. It would land on Easter, and I would get so pissed. I hated it. And on top of that, my older brother fell off of cliff. My family was kind of hippy dippy, and they decided to go for a hike with our friends on Easter. We hiked up Rattlesnake Mountain in New Hampshire. I was standing next to him and he fell 50 feet onto the ground. He's fine. He broke nearly every bone in his body, but he's OK. Now everyone is like, "Let's celebrate Sam surviving falling off the cliff and Easter... and, oh yeah, Eliza is turning another age."
THR: Happy Endings has been your job for almost three years now. How has the job changed for you?
Coupe: I never had sisters, and Elisha [Cuthbert] and Casey [Wilson] are the closet thing I have to that. At first, I got along with the guys much better, because I know how to have brothers. But it's been great for me to get closer with them. Damon and I are insane together on set. Last week we had a 13-hour day where it was just the two of us, and we laughed for 13 hours straight. We shot an x-rated version of Happy Endings that has to get whittled down to ABC standards.
THR: And you get to dress up like Gallagher.
Coupe: I have no idea where that came from, but I really just went for it. If I could do that every day -- crazy disguises and wigs -- that's my favorite thing to do. I didn't really know that much about Gallagher, so I had to go online and watch a bunch of videos of him.
THR: You didn't know about Gallagher?
Coupe: I'd knew of him, but I was just familiar with the fruit-smashing stuff. That look isn't something you forget. It's burned into your brain. But I started wondering, "What else does he do? Does he just smash fruit?" So I went online and watched his whole act. It was really education for me.
THR: You are very open about your obsessions, like Michael Fassbender. What's on your mind these days?
Coupe: I have definitely moved away from Fassbender. I beat that one like a dead horse. I had a real quick moment with Adam Levine, where I thought I was going to do something about him, but i don't really know much about him -- so I'd have to work on that one. I'm obsessed with Pinterest right now. I have a real problem, and there needs to be a self-help program.
THR: Do you have a following?
Coupe: I don't have a lot of followers, like 300, because my boards are titled things like "Great F---ing Style," "Great F---ing Style for Him," "Wicked Good Pahty Idears," and one of guys I'd hook up with called I "I'd Give These Guys a Shot at the Title." I don't think that a lot of people on Pinterest are into that, because it's mostly homemakers and people who are just trying to find nice centerpieces for their Christmas dinner.
THR: Who's on the board of guys?
Coupe: Damon and Adam [Pally] were making fun of me because I have the most random people. Vincent Gallo is on there. Why? I don't know. Because he looked really hot in the picture I found. And I love Buffalo 66. The heart wants what the heart wants.
THR: Happy Endings is going off in March, before all 22 episodes air. What have you guys heard about that?
Coupe: I know nothing. I just know that they love our show, and, when it happened, there was this moment of "OK, I'm going to stop spending any money right now." It's a really good show and I think it's going to live on. We're really happy, we're doing our thing, and I know everyone is taking a hit in that time period. I think they just need to get those midseason shows on -- and hopefully we'll be soon. But I'm not going to lie, I definitely had a moment of, "I think I'm going to shit my pants."
THR: And you guys have been in this position before.
Coupe: We always joke that it isn't going to be easy. It's a bunch of self-deprecating comedians saying, "That was an amazing scene. Cool, no one will see it, but at least the crew liked it!" It's like we're doing black box theater in the middle of nowhere. We just have to be patient. Happy Endings is the little engine that could.
Happy Endings airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.
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