'Happy Endings': Elisha Cuthbert Finds the Humor in Alex, Preps for '24' Movie

Ahead of Wednesday's finale, the star tells THR about reinventing her character in the second season: "It started with the invisible hula hoop."

When Happy Endings' fast-tracked second season comes to a close on Wednesday night, it caps off an exceptionally funny run for Elisha Cuthbert's Alex.

Going into the series with the smallest comedy resume of the cast and playing a heartbreaker runaway bride in the pilot, Cuthbert spent most of the freshman season playing something of a straight man.

"I wanted to incorporate some new things about Alex I hadn't gotten the chance to," Cuthbert tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I was trying to redeem her as the nice girl again after leaving Dave (Zach Knighton) at the altar. I felt like we didn't have to deal with that [anymore] and could have her be less apologetic."

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She traces Alex's transition to goofy eccentric -- which has seen her adopt a racist parrot, get arrested for solicitation and pose as an Ellen DeGeneres-esque lesbian -- back to one scene.

"It all started with the invisible hula hoop," she says of her season premiere miming. "It was something I had done just messing around with the cast, and [creator] David Caspe had seen it. Somehow in the first episode he suggested doing it. I could have this be the catalyst for the rest of the season, or i could say 'no' and sort of curl up into a ball band play her safe -- or at least the straight guy. I really felt like I wanted to go for it. I'm ready to go anywhere with this character and have a great time with her."

She looks at season two as an opportunity in many ways. Considered a surprise for renewal last year, Happy Endings' subsequent ratings boost led to a full 22-episode pickup, all but locking it for a third year.   

"Of course a lot of us wanted it to be a huge success because we believed in it so much right away," she says, "but the slow and steady pace and constantly being able to put out good quality and not feel like we have to live up some hype was a good place for us to be. It lends itself to less pressure and to do the shows that we want to do... I don't think this year was as easy as it could have been if we had a full season and known it, but that makes it exciting too."

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Looking toward the hiatus, Cuthbert says her plans are currently on hold after the recently announced filming delay for the 24 movie.

"I thought we were going to do the 24 movie but it looks like we're sort of on hold right now," she says. "That doesn't mean it's not going to happen, it's just having things all come together to have it work."

24 was Cuthbert's breakout role. She played Kiefer Sutherland's character's daughter Kim as a regular during the first three seasons of the Fox series, later recurring until its end in 2010.

"I know Kiefer is busy working on his show," she says. "I think it's all pretty much there and ready to go, it's just a matter of when he wants to do it. I'm confident that it will happen because, for a long time, I heard nothing about it and then got a call. They basically said be on standby, and of course I'd be thrilled to do it. We'll see."

The Happy Endings season finale, "Four Weddings and a Funeral (Minus Three Weddings and One Funeral)," airs Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. on ABC.

Email: Michael.OConnell@THR.com; Twitter: @MikeyLikesTV