Eliza Coupe On Her Real Life Happy Endings

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1Photo: Getty Images.
Short-lived as it was, Happy Endings deserves its spot among TV's cult classics. The sitcom garnered a huge fan base, and this editor in particular (along with countless others) has been religiously following the show's stars ever since the series' not-so-happy ending. While some of the gang has found other network-TV homes (Adam Pally on The Mindy Project; Damon Wayans, Jr. on New Girl), Eliza Coupe took the movie route, with roles in Anchorman 2 and this month's The Last Time You Had Fun.

In Fun Coupe and New Girl's Mary Elizabeth Ellis play sisters struggling with unhappy marriages and other realities of adult life. The two meet another pair of bummed-out friends (Demetri Martin and Kyle Bornheimer), and the group decides to forget their troubles and let loose for a rare night of debauchery. No spoilers here, but what follows involves a sketchy '80s limo, a whole lot of pot, and a few run-ins with the law.

The movie had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival, where we tracked down Coupe and chatted about life after Happy Endings and her much-publicized divorce from her acting-coach husband. It seems she's taking some cues from her on-screen personas, and she's got a whole lot to say about keeping the laughs coming. Oh, and a few thoughts on home pornos, too.

Your character in The Last Time You Had Fun isn't always likable. What did you think of her and the choices she makes?
"I think that Ida is such a complex person, but what she wants is actually quite simple — she just wants to be appreciated and to be loved, but she sabotages that which she wants. She can try to make it about her ex-husband, but she really needs to look at herself, too. Toward the ends of the film, she starts to really face it. I think she's really a good person at heart, but she doesn't make the greatest choices because she thinks the right thing is too difficult."

Audiences are used to seeing you in more traditionally funny or goofy roles. How is it playing something a little more serious?
"Anybody who is a comedic actor knows that we are right on the cusp of being dramatic every second. You can't be comedic without having a lot to pull from in your own personal life. That which you pull from is not necessarily that funny, though — that's why we make it funny, to cope with it. So, the drama, for me, actually comes quite easily. It's hard to be vulnerable like that, but the great thing about all of these actors is I felt so supported to go there because we were all in the same boat."

Chemistry is so important in this movie because you four are basically the only people in the film. Did you know each other before filming?
"None of us knew each other beforehand, but by staying up all night together in a limo you get to know each other pretty quickly. You get to know each other's smells and noises and everything. It was all-night shoots, but from the minute we all met it was like 'Oh, this is gonna be so fun.'

"And, it's tough to find women who are funny. Things are changing, but a lot of times women are the underdog in the comedy world or in a male movie. Mary Elizabeth is one of the funniest women I've ever met. And, not funny trying to match a man's funny or to do what she thinks other people would like. To be around that is inspiring, and we bonded immediately because that's what I aspire to be. And, we could hold our own with Kyle and Demetri, which was great."
1Photo: Courtesy of Last Time Pictures.

A big theme here is whether you can be grown-up but still be fun. Where do you think you fall on that spectrum?
"It's funny because that's something I've been thinking about. I watched the film by myself on my computer, and the first time I watch anything I'm like 'Oh my god, my face, my nose, my eyes, why is my arm like that? Why do I have such big hands?' I'm critiquing the dumbest stuff. But, watching it again, I realized that what everyone was talking about was where we all lie on the spectrum of growing up. This is a major thing that a lot of people deal with. We think that fun is only for those who are in college or high school. And, I've thought about it a lot, since I went through a divorce while we were filming the movie.

"I had quite an amicable divorce, and I still think the world of my ex-husband, but it's still the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life. It's like, the worst, and during it I couldn't even think of having fun. Every time I went to have fun it was like this voice was creeping over my shoulder saying, 'Hey, you know that thing you said you were gonna do, for better or for worse? You just bailed on that.' But, now, a year later, I have fun. And, I feel like I'm just getting started. Doing that film, I actually think it made a difference in my life because it made me realize that amidst such turmoil I can still have fun. It's not just for younger people. Right now in my life, I'm beginning to have probably the most fun I've ever had."

You probably get asked about Happy Endings and its way-too-soon ending a lot, but where do you think your character would be if the show had gotten another season or two?
"I think that Jane and Brad might have ventured into making home pornos. I'm pretty sure that they would be making those kinds of videos. And, I think they would have been tasteful because Jane's a classy lady, but I think they definitely would have gotten into that. And, now that I'm thinking about it, it would be really funny if there was a show where a couple actually gets into that, and they have to keep it under wraps. There's probably something like it already, but I think it would make a great network television show."

But, those of us who are mourning the show will be able to see you soon on TV again. Tell us about your new show.
"Yes! I am so proud of Benched, and I'm so excited for people to see it. It's a hilarious, smart comedy that's actually quite grounded. It's not cartoony. And, we have some unbelievable guest stars. I was so honored to have Molly Shannon, Chris Parnell, and all these people coming on to the first season of the show. It's a tribute to the writers. I think that it's gonna be an unbelievable show, and I really hope that people watch it!"