On the reboot of Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas’ Cupid (premieres tonight at 10 p.m. ET on ABC), Bobby Cannavale (Will & Grace) plays Trevor Pierce, a man who insists he’s the God of Love, banished to Manhattan to bring 100 couples together before being allowed to return to Mount Olympus. Sarah Paulson (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) is Dr. Claire McCrae, the psychiatrist and self-help author who’ll treat him at her singles group therapy sessions. They’ve got chemistry on the show, and, as we found out, on conference calls.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The first moment you knew you had chemistry?
BOBBY CANNAVALE: As soon as Jenna Elfman turned down the part.
SARAH PAULSON: The night we had sex. I’m just kidding. That never happened.
CANNAVALE: We’re in bed right now. Your feet are sweaty.
PAULSON: Stop! I made the mistake of telling him that my feet get sweaty when I’m nervous, and now I can’t live it down…. [To EW] You’re like, Wow, I don’t really know where to go with that.
Let’s move on to the Pop Culture Personality Test portion of the interview. What is your position on karaoke?
CANNAVALE: [Voice goes up an octave] Ooooh! I love it! I love it! I love it!
PAULSON: You’ve hit the jackpot over here, man.
In our recent Paul Rudd cover story, Bobby, he mentions that you’re one of his karaoke buddies.
CANNAVALE: Yeah, man. We ‘raoke a lot. I love to ‘raoke.
PAULSON: Do you hear that? Do you hear that? They call it ‘raoke.
CANNAVALE: I got Sarah into it, didn’t I, Sarah?
PAULSON: You did get me into it.
CANNAVALE: Here’s the thing about ‘raoking with me, man. I live in New York, and I’m never in L.A., but when I do go to L.A., I could be in L.A. for 36 hours — right, Sarah? — and I can put together 20 people, boom!, in a room.
PAULSON: And we did.
CANNAVALE: We’re serious though. I mean, I call people who like to sing. [Paulson talks over him: My turn. My turn. My turn. My turn.] I don’t call people who like to come drink and sing “American Pie.” Shut it. I’m talking. Yeah, I love to karaoke. Love it. Love it. But I don’t like singing at a bar. I like a private room.
PAULSON: Which is the only way I can do it because I’m a really bad singer. My sister’s a big karaoke person, and she’s never been able to get me to do it. But Bobby, because he has that kind of way —
CANNAVALE: Sarah does a mean Salt-N-Pepa though. You got to hear her do her Salt-N-Pepa.
What is each of your best songs?
PAULSON: I feel like mine is “Shoop” by Salt-N-Pepa.
CANNAVALE: You know what I’ve taken to singing lately — only because they just got it at the karaoke, and I find it’s a good warm up for me, believe it or not — Adele’s “Chasing Pavements.”
PAULSON: That Adele is amazing. I’m obsessed with that Adele.
CANNAVALE: Adele’s “Chasing Pavements” is a good warm up for me. And then I go into —
PAULSON: The last thing I heard you do was “Yellow” by Coldplay.
CANNAVALE: “Yellow” warms me up for the Radiohead, because it gets my sort of falsetto warmed up —
PAULSON: Oh boy.
CANNAVALE: ‘Cause I have a pretty deep voice. My real go-to — like, if the pressure was on and I really had to shine, let’s say — would be a country song probably. Like, a Merle Haggard song or a George Jones song.
PAULSON: He won’t tell you this, but he’s very good at it.
PAULSON: Ly-ing! Ly-ing! Ly-ing! [All laugh]
The movie you have to watch every time you spot it on cable?
PAULSON: I have two: Postcards From the Edge and Parenthood.
CANNAVALE: Parenthood, really?
PAULSON: Yeah. That movie makes me laugh so hard. I love that movie. Tom Hulce, Jason Robards, and Dianne Wiest. And little Joaquin Phoenix before he went off the deep end.
CANNAVALE: Joaquin Phoenix is in that?
PAULSON: He’s the little kid, although he was called Leaf Phoenix back then.
CANNAVALE: Really? Dianne Wiest’s little kid who always has a brown paper bag?
PAULSON: That’s Joaquin Phoenix.
CANNAVALE: Ohhh, I didn’t know that. I always thought, like, the Leaf Phoenix was its own Phoenix. [All laugh] I didn’t know that… [Silence as he continues to wrap his head around it] Okay, what movie, if it’s on, will I keep it on and watch the hell out of it? Probably Zoolander.
PAULSON: Oh, good lord.
CANNAVALE: I just die watching that movie.
PAULSON: That’s such a you movie.
CANNAVALE: And anything with Sean Penn. If Sean Penn’s on screen, I’m watching it.
Did you ever write a fan letter to anyone when you were young, and if so, who?
PAULSON: Yes. I wrote one to Jane Kaczmarek when she was doing Lost in Yonkers on Broadway, and I was maybe, I don’t know, 16. I went with a school group and we chatted afterward, and she took my hand and didn’t let go of my hand the whole time. I think she could tell I was totally gobsmacked by her performance, and I’m sure I was goobery. And then I wrote a letter for her and left it at the stage door. And then about three months later, I got a picture and this letter that I still have and used to be on my refrigerator but now it’s in storage somewhere. She said it only takes three things to survive this business — talent, luck, and stamina — and of the three, stamina is the most important. Then I ran into her after I had a job or two, and she remembered me, and it just meant the world to me. And then I ended up working with her husband [Bradley Whitford] on Studio 60. Bizarre.
CANNAVALE: I didn’t. Although the reason is mostly because I’m lazy. Recently, I’ve been trying to fix that. And actually, I just wrote a letter to Lauren Ambrose because I just saw her [on Broadway] in Exit the King.
PAULSON: You’re just tryin’ to see if she’s single. Come on.
CANNAVALE: She’s not. She’s married. She has a little kid. I know her. Nothing like that, so take it easy. But I did write her a little note and dropped it off at the stage door for her. If I see somebody who just knocks me out, then I have to say something. Although, that doesn’t always go good. Did I ever tell you my Tom Berenger story, Sarah?
PAULSON: Tom Berenger? Seriously? No.
CANNAVALE: Okay, I was in Cannes a couple of years ago. Which, you know, I was like, Wow, holy s—, I’m in Cannes. I’ve never been there before. I was there with a movie. And it was the anniversary of Platoon, which is another movie that if it’s on, it just brings me back to being 15 years old and memorizing every monologue from that movie. It was like a real actor movie. And Tom Berenger was freakin’ great in that movie, and I met him at this anniversary screening. We’re all black tie, and I walked up to my lawyer, who also represents him, and I had a glass of red wine in my hand. And he said, “This is Tom Berenger.” I said, “Oh, man. I gotta tell you, I memorized that whole monologue.” And I start doing the monologue, and he was so flattered. And we’re laughing, laughing, and it’s like two minutes in, and I’m drinking my wine, and this other guy made a joke and I spit my red wine, all of it, all over Tom Berenger. I mean, like, I just projectiled all of it, all over him. And as he stood there looking down at his shirt and at me, from the dais Oliver Stone said, “I want to introduce the cast. First, Tom Berenger,” and he just looked at me, like, Who the f— are you? And he went up on stage covered in wine.
PAULSON: That’s the funniest story of meeting someone I think I’ve heard in my life.
CANNAVALE: I get flummoxed when I’m in the presence of somebody who meant a lot to me.
PAULSON: I understand. Me, too.
The piece of pop culture memorabilia from your childhood you wish you still had?
PAULSON: I have an Annie lunchbox. It was not from my childhood. [Laughs] My ex-fiancé gave it to me because he knows that was the movie that made me think I wanted to be an actress when I was 11 years old and saw that movie. I made up a lot of stories that I actually auditioned for the movie, and it came down between me and that girl who got it, and I’m not kidding. I was like a professional liar at 8 or 11. As a sort of romantic gesture, this person got me an Annie lunchbox, so I still have that.
CANNAVALE: I wish I still had my Lite-Brite. [Paulson sings the Lite-Brite song.] And my Big Wheel.
The person or band you’ve seen most often in concert?
PAULSON: [To Cannavale] Springsteen, right?
CANNAVALE: The Boss. [Voice softens] I’ve seen him 20 times, give or take.
PAULSON: I’ve only been to one concert in my life.
PAULSON: Yeah. And when I tell you who it is…
CANNAVALE: Well, who is it?
PAULSON: [Voice softens] It was Bette Midler.
CANNAVALE: Oh wow…
PAULSON: Yeah, I know. All my friends went to the Madonna concert when I was in, maybe, the 9th grade, and my mother refused to let me go. So they all went, and they have that great story of how they were all the way up in the nosebleed section and someone from Madonna’s road company or whatever brought a bunch of people from up there down, and they ended up sitting right on the floor. So that’s sort of a bone of contention between me and my mother to this day. I love music so much, but I’ve always wanted to go see plays more than I wanted to go hear bands.
CANNAVALE: I’ve always loved going to concerts. When I was in high school, I worked at a concert auditorium, at the concession stand, and I saw concerts all the time.
PAULSON: That’s a great job for a young person.
CANNAVALE: One time, I played hide-and-seek with New Edition.
PAULSON: [Gasps] Are you kidding?
CANNAVALE: No. I was like 15, working at this concession stand, and it was a Saturday or a Sunday and they did two shows, like a matinee and an evening show, and in between, I played hide-and-seek with Bobby Brown, Ralph Tresvant, and Michael Bivins.
What’s your worst DVR mishap story?
CANNAVALE: I don’t use it, ’cause I don’t watch any TV, but my son is obsessed with the DVR. Every single morning he wakes up for school and he’s watching The Twilight Zone. No kidding, every single day. He’s seen almost all of them at this point.
PAULSON: Way back in the day when TiVo first came out, I was doing a show called Jack & Jill, and I got invited to this TiVo launch party where they were like, “We’ll give you a free TiVo and then free TiVo service for so-and-so years.”
CANNAVALE: “For as long as you’re on a TV show, and then we won’t care about you. At all.”
PAULSON: Exactly. And I was like, Whatever. Recording live TV? Who cares? I didn’t go, and lo and behold, it became this great thing and everyone was raving about it and then I had to buy one.
CANNAVALE: Great story, Sarah.
PAULSON: [Laughs] Shut up.
CANNAVALE: I liked the middle part.
Last question: The person you’re most often mistaken for?
CANNAVALE: Brad Pitt.
PAULSON: Seriously, Brad Pitt.
CANNAVALE: Seriously, Brad Garrett, actually.
PAULSON: Yes, somebody said that to me the other night, actually.
CANNAVALE: Yeah, what the hell, man? I don’t look anything like Brad Garrett. I’m not as tall as him. My face isn’t as big. I don’t get it.
PAULSON: It was when we went to the [Broadway] opening of West Side Story the other night. Somebody said to me, “You know who he looks like? He looks like that guy from Everybody Loves Raymond.”
CANNAVALE: And I’m always like, “Doris Roberts?” That’s what I always say when they ask me if I’m on Everybody Loves Raymond. I go, “I’m not Doris Roberts.” When I was a kid, people thought I looked like the other guy from Wham!
PAULSON: That’s really funny. I get a lot of different people weirdly. I get Monica Potter, and I used to get Juliette Lewis. The one I get a lot is Elizabeth Perkins, from back in the Big days.
CANNAVALE: I thought you were gonna say, “from the back.”
PAULSON: Yeah, from behind, I look just like Elizabeth Perkins.
More EW Pop Culture Personality Tests:
Tom Cavanagh and Eric McCormack