Eliza Coupe talks Wrecked return and Happy Endings revival
TBS’ Wrecked has spent its first season spoofing Lost with its survivors facing eerily similar incidents to the beloved ABC drama, and that trend will continue in Tuesday’s two-part finale. The first episode will see the return of Eliza Coupe’s Rosa, who appeared in a brief-but-memorable cameo in the premiere as Owen’s (Zach Cregger) fellow flight attendant. In an exclusive clip above, Owen and Rosa are reunited, and she reveals she has been living on the other side of the island with some “friends.”
Ahead of the finale, EW talked with Coupe about not knowing anything about Lost, the upcoming Happy Endings cast reading at EW’s Popfest, and funding another season of the cult hit (not really).
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Was it always part of the plan to have you come back after having just the one scene in the pilot?
ELIZA COUPE: I think so, because I went down to Puerto Rico to shoot the pilot when they did pick-ups and they added me in. Then they were like, “Okay, we’ll see you in six weeks when we shoot the finale.” And then they secretly gave me the script, and I was like, “Oh, wow, okay.”
Considering you’ve starred in your own shows, what’s the mindset when you show up to do just one scene in a pilot?
I’ve known [Wrecked creators Jordan and Justin Shipley] because there was this night of one-act plays where you do readings of plays. I did it with Will Greenberg — he directed it, and the Shipleys wrote it, and I did it with Michael Showalter and a few people — and so I knew them and knew their writing and also Thom Hinkle, who is at TBS. I’ve known all these people that are involved with this project, and I’ve known Zach Cregger forever, literally since Zach and I were performing our live shows in New York together. So I knew everybody, which was great going into it, and that’s not always the case. I’ve been guest-starring on every frickin’ show on television these days, and I haven’t known everybody going into it. So when they asked me to do it I was like, “I’ll do anything for the Shipleys.” Like seriously, I’ll give my firstborn. I just love those two. They are just such great guys, so when I went down there, I have to say that was the one that was the most fun because there were no egos. Sometimes you go on these sets, and there are these established kind of egotistical… there are some assholes out there. Actors are rough. So it was really great to go on a set where everybody was very welcoming, really fun, and it was just cool. It was like going to summer camp.
Wrecked is clearly a bit of a spoof on Lost; were you a fan of that series?
I never saw one episode of Lost, so there’s that.
Interesting, because there is definitely a specific character that yours seems to be based on.
Oh is it? Maybe I should have known that. I do my own thing, you’ll see. What’s the character that I’m supposedly like?
Rousseau, this French woman who had been stuck on the island by herself for like 15 years.
I guess they did kind of tell me that [laughs].
Rosa has gone a little nuts, and in the episode you’re doing a lot of talking to random objects like a cocunut and luggage. How much improv went on there?
There was a lot. I have to say the Shipleys, they write as if it’s improv. A lot of the times, I think also because I’m a writer, I read things, and I’m like, “Oh, well that would sound better if I said it this way.” When I read the Shipleys’ stuff I don’t do that. I would read it and be like, “Oh, they wrote it exactly how I would want to change it if it were written another way.” So I didn’t feel like I needed to do that; we just got to play. So we then got to play off the brilliant stuff that they wrote, so there was a lot of improv. When I’m talking to all the inanimate objects, they wanted me to do a lot more, and so I just did kind of whatever I wanted to do.
What was it like acting opposite these inanimate objects?
Oh my god, that’s like my dream. I used to have a one-person show where it was just me. I always wanted to be an only child and I have two brothers, so this was like the greatest. I got to be just me, the center of attention — that’s an actor’s dream. Narcissist or actor, I don’t know. I think they’re interchangeable.
Did you have a favorite scene partner of those objects?
Javier and I, we got really close because they didn’t put this in the scene but there was this hot guy that came in — his name is Reed Favreau, he’s a male model. And they did this dream sequence of what I thought I was seeing instead of a tree stump, and so like this male model comes in, really great guy actually, and they just didn’t use that, it was probably just funnier that I didn’t have that. I guess that makes more sense as far as story goes, that I would just go f—ing nuts and didn’t see any real person in my imagination, but I had to be making out with a tree stump, so when we finally flash to like, “Oh, that’s just a dream,” it cuts to instead of making out with a guy, I’m literally making out with a tree stump. And I got in there. I probably have zika in my mouth.
What happens to Rosa is left open-ended. Do you think we’ll see her again?
I do. Actually when they got picked up I asked them, I said, “Guys, I think I need to come back.” And they’re like, “Cool if you want to come back, we’re going to have you come back.” I don’t know how many episodes, but word on the street is that I’m coming back.
You might have time to catch up on Lost.
I know, but I kind of think it’s funnier that I don’t know anything about it.
You were great on the first season of Casual. What was that role like, and do you think we could see Emmy return?
I think I burned that bridge pretty badly by banging Michaela [Watkins, who plays divorced single mom Valerie], so I think that’s probably not going to work out. Those guys are my friends. Michaela wrote my other TV show Benched, which was canceled. And so it was great to be with her and then Tommy Dewey, and we just got along great from the beginning. It was really awkward: Our very first scene was the first sex scene, and I’d never done anything like that and it was like, “Hey, nice to meet you.” “Hey, nice to meet you too.” “Great here’s my naked body.” “Awesome, here’s mine. Let’s just throw them and slam them together.” Instead of a handshake let’s do a full-body shake. So that was interesting, but honestly that breaks the ice pretty easily, you can’t really deny bonding with someone when you’re totally two funny people that can just make a joke of it and be totally awkward and uncomfortable, and he was just an amazing scene partner and a joy to work with the entire time. And also playing a part that was a departure from myself like [Coupe’s Happy Endings character] Jane was, but Jane and Emmy couldn’t be more different, which I loved doing because I think a lot of people think I’m very much like Jane and I’m not, but I’m not like Emmy either; I’m somewhere in between. They are like the two extremes, so I feel like I land somewhere in the middle.
It was recently announced that you and the rest of the Happy Endings cast are getting together at EW’s Popfest to read a never-before-seen episode.
Yeah, I think everybody is trying to get that thing picked up on Netflix or Hulu or something; I don’t know why it wouldn’t. I mean, do I need to finance it? I got some money. I feel like I should.
I know I’d really appreciate you doing that.
Alright, let’s put it out there that I’m going to finance it, and then what we’ll do is when everyone is like, “Oh, where is the money?” I’ll just be like, “Oh, we need to get financers.” And then it will be well, we’re already in motion so somebody will jump in. No, that would never work, but let’s put it out there.
I like that strategy.
Yeah, that Eliza Coupe is going to finance Happy Endings coming back, that’s a hilarious rumor.
What will it be like coming back for this one episode?
Oh my god. I think first of all, I’m excited for that. I’ve been dying to do Jane again. It’s funny: This is such actor dork talk, but I’ve grown so much as an actor since doing Happy Endings that it’s almost like I’m so competitive with myself, but in a healthy way that it’s like I’d love to do the character now with the knowledge that I’ve learned as an actor just in the last four years since we’ve been done. I just think that it would be fun; there would be more depth, and I think everybody has grown, and everybody has gone on to do other stuff, but I think it would be so cool for us to all come back, jump into these characters again and see if it’s different. Plus, when we went and did the thing in New York, Vulture Fest, it was more like a love fest. We were all like so happy to see each other, it was like even more than when we were doing the show. It was such an amazing time. We all had such a great time with each other, so I think that first of all, when we come back together and do this, I think it’s going to be great and it’s going to be so much fun, and then I think it would be amazing if we could keep going, even if it was just like a stupid little miniseries or movie. Why not?
Why do you think the show has endured as a cult favorite?
Because I think it’s actually a really great show, and since ABC f—ed it up and didn’t do any sort of press for it and totally just buried the show. People found it, because you find good stuff no matter, and everyone is, “What? How did I miss this?” It’s like Arrested Development; I feel like people discovered that show after it was canceled. I know I did. And I think people are like, “Wait, what the f—?” ABC just completely screwed up, and I think that’s now being noticed and recognized. You can’t deny a really good show and people are finding it, too, because I think it was ahead of its time. I think now the jokes are still really relevant, I think the characters and the content are even weirdly more relevant now than when it was made, which I think is kind of cool. And I feel like there have been so many shows trying to do what we did, and they failed, but yet networks got behind those shows and not ours, and I think people recognize that in a weird way.
No show has ever been able to squeeze so many jokes into 22 minutes.
I have a problem, I talk too fast on television now. Every thing I do, they’re like, “Hey can you slow down?” I’m like, “Oh right, yeah, I don’t have to fit in 65,000 jokes in under a minute.”
Now that I’m thinking about it, I vividly remember Jane making a Lost joke.
Yeah, Jane loved Lost. Eliza has no idea.
What other projects do you have coming up?
I just drop in and do stuff on The Mindy Project, and I just talked to Ike Barinholtz. He texted me and asked if I was going to do another episode and I was like, “Yeah, you write it, I’ll do it.” I think I’m going back to that. I did a drama pilot for TNT called Civil, it’s about a modern-day civil war, so hopefully that gets picked up. And I’m waiting on my Hulu show pick-up Future Man, which was with Josh Hutcherson, directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. I’m praying that they pick it up because it’s a really funny show with incredible people involved. I think it would be silly if they didn’t pick it up, but again my opinion clearly doesn’t matter; look at all the shows that I’ve been on that have been canceled, which in my opinion are great shows comparatively to the ones that are out there, so my opinion doesn’t matter. I’m not the head of a network or studio — maybe I should be. Start that rumor too. “Eliza finances Happy Endings comeback and is going to be head of a network of studio.” There will be so many clicks on this. Then my team is going to be like, “You’re crazy right?” And I’ll be, “Yeah, yeah, we all know that.”
Wrecked airs on TBS on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET.