Elisha Cuthbert knows that playing the frequently-imperiled Kim Bauer on "24" made her an object of scorn among the hardcore fans of the series - so how did she approach her new sitcom "Happy Endings"? Well...
“I leave my fiancé at the altar right off the get-go – That's not setting up the audience to love me all that much, right?” laughs Cuthbert, who stars as one-half of a couple whose group of friends find their group dynamic tested when they split. “But then you find a way to bring it back and get your audience back on your side, and hopefully they will, at the end of the day, root for you. It's not always about pleasing the audience – sometimes you gotta be a little bit open to the fact that if you're making the audience feel anything, then it's worth something.”
After a film career filled with minor ups (“The Girl Next Door”) and major downs (“Captivity”), Cuthbert says she wasn’t exactly looking to turn to comedy following her return in the final hours of “24.”
“I wish I could say this is what I was looking for and it came about and it was all perfect – No,” she says. “I just knew that if I was going to come back to TV, I really wanted to be a part of something that I felt passionate about and that I was excited to go to work to do every day. And at that time this script came, and I read it, and I just felt like it would be different. It was a little daunting, but I kind of got excited about that. When it came my way, I went ‘Wow - this actually might be the right next step.’”
The premise of a couple’s split fracturing multiple friendships felt ripe to her. “You tend to see that happen more: two people are dating and then they break off and then it's like, Oh, we're going to lose our new friends,'” she says. “As you get older those questions and those dilemmas become a lot more serious. The people in your life, you don't have time really for the acquaintances. You really have to work at your friendships and they mean more, so those things become a little more serious. I think that everyone is going to relate to that in some form.”
“It's not even just that dynamic that I think is going to work for the show,” adds Cuthbert. “It's the fact that all these characters are not perfect. This is what I loved about the character. She's not perfect and she's trying to figure things out. That's going to resonate throughout the season with each character individually – how they're kind of coping and dealing in all different ways, whether that be because they're gay or because they can't lock down a man or they don't know if they're still in love.”
Meanwhile, if that long-discussed “24” movie ever comes together, Cuthbert would be thrilled to reunite with her TV daddy Kiefer Sutherland, even if it means being menaced by a cougar.
“I would be lying if I said otherwise,” she admits. “If they need me and I'm going to be a good fit and not just put me in there because they have to, I trust their judgment and will be there on the day – unless I'm shooting 'Happy Endings' of course.”