The former horror movie victim is now a sitcom star on Happy Endings writes Holly Byrnes
ELISHA Cuthbert is terrified of flying. And not in an Alec Baldwin Twitter tirade against ageing American Airlines flight attendants way.
Getting ‘‘ bounced’’ from a commuter jet is as likely as Cuthbert getting on one without being pushed.
So much so when she landed the role of the spoilt Alex Moore in new Channel 7 comedy Happy Endings, promoting the series across the US proved her first hurdle.
So severe is her aerophobia, that Whoopi Goldberg, the star and co-host of The View, offered to loan Cuthbert her luxury bus to get back to Los Angeles after appearing on the New York-based chat show.
But facing her fears has been the foundation of this talented 28-year-old, too easily stereotyped as the pretty girlnext-door type.
Like many aspiring actors, Canadian-born Cuthbert was working as a waitress in Times Square before a leap of faith took her to France.
There she tackled Shakespeare’s King Lear, then starred in a one-woman show.
‘‘ Just me doing five characters . . . and I took it to the Aspen Comedy Festival. That’s kind of where my whole career opened up,’’ Cuthbert says.
Self-deprecating, she agrees the start was a brave one, ‘‘ or just incredibly desperate’’.
Her choices in film and TV series since have been mixed: an ex-porn star in The Girl Next Door; the widely panned horror House of Wax, opposite Paris Hilton; then nominated for a Razzie as worst actor playing the target of a psychopath in Captivity.
Billboards promoting Captivity were pulled down following action from the Motion Picture Association of America. Various images on the billboards showed Cuthbert gagged, caged, encased in a mask with blood dripping from her nostrils and lying suggestively on a couch. Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy, wrote a furious letter to the MPAA saying the ad campaign promoted ‘‘ torture porn and the total dehumanising not just of women, but all human beings’’.
Cuthbert responded to the furore by saying the film was ‘‘ insane’’.
‘‘ I can’t even tell you, like, I had no idea that it was going to turn out that crazy,’’ she was reported as saying at the time. ‘‘ It’s unbelievable. It startled me, and I made the movie.’’
It wasn’t until she played the bratty daughter of Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer in 24 that Cuthbert found mainstream fame — as well as becoming target No.1 with the show’s critics.
Contrived writing help things any.
So shaking off the dramatics for a role in a light and breezy comedy seemed like the perfect next step.
It’s just that her new gig, as the runaway bride, doesn’t get
didn’t her off to the best of starts. The alpha female in a group of six friends, Cuthbert’s character left the alpha male, Dave, at the altar in the first episode. How the sextet recovers after Alex leaves the church — with a roller-blading mystery man, as you do — will also test the viewer’s ability to put Cuthbert’s past behind her. Still, the actor says she had to make the break.
‘‘ Playing Kim Bauer for so long and being that sort of character everyone loved to hate ... I really wanted some redemption from that. There was this feeling of wanting to play a character that everyone loved.’’
Stretching her legs in a comedy was also part of the challenge.
‘‘ I’m goofy, I’m a nut, I do stupid things,’’ Cuthbert says. ‘‘ Off set, you know, I’m dancing and acting like an idiot. I’m not afraid to make fun of myself. Am I a comic genius? I don’t know. But I can be funny.’’
The ensemble series has drawn the obvious comparisons to the cast of Friends — updated for the new era with a gay character, Max (Adam Pally). Happy Endings Channel 7, Thursday 8.30pm
Headed for the heights:
Elisha Cuthbert has embraced