‘Happy Endings’ star Eliza Coupe is ‘Pivoting’ to a whole new role


The prospect of playing a mom on the new Fox series “Pivoting” was daunting for “Happy Endings” star Eliza Coupe.

“I am usually very opposed to taking roles where I have to play a mother, because I’ve never wanted to put myself in that box in real life or in TV,” Coupe, 40, told The Post. “I’ve never been drawn to doing a traditional family show, only because I feel as though it’s not in alignment with what I chose to do with my life.

“But I’ve had to really look at that, like, ‘OK, but you’re an actor. Let’s be flexible in every possible way.’ So doing a role like this is actually a beautiful opportunity to explore what it is to be [a mother] , which I’m not.”

Premiering Sunday, Jan. 9 (8:30 p.m.) on Fox, and helmed by Liz Astrof (“2 Broke Girls”), “Pivoting” follows three friends who, after losing the fourth member of their group to cancer, feel motivated to make dramatic life changes and “pivot.”

There’s Amy (Coupe), a TV producer with two kids who feels ill-at-ease with being a mom decides to try to become better at motherhood; housewife Jodie (Ginnifer Goodwin), who gets more into fitness and strikes up a flirtation with a trainer at her gym; and successful doctor Sarah (Maggie Q), who quits medicine to work at a grocery store. 

Sarah (Maggie Q), Amy (Eliza Coupe) and Jodie (Ginnifer Goodwin) are three pals making big life changes in “Pivoting.”

Although Amy is different from who Coupe is in real life, she found inspiration in which to base her character. 

“The funny thing is that it was like with ‘Happy Endings.’ That role was such a departure from who I am — being the wife,” said Coupe, referring to the popular ABC series where she played Jane, the spouse of Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.)

Eliza Coupe and Damon Wayans Jr sit at a round table smiling.
Eliza Coupe and Damon Wayans Jr played a happily married couple on “Happy Endings.”
©ABC/Courtesy Everett Collectio

“Although I’ve been married, I’m not married now and the whole domestic thing is difficult for me to wrap my head around just in general,” she said. “Hence, why I’m divorced. But when I approached ‘Happy Endings,’ I tapped into my old New England roots of the women that I grew up with, my aunts and my mother. With this show, it was a similar moment where I was like, ‘Can I do this?’ And I tapped into [showrunner Liz Astrof]. She’s kind of the alter-ego, or Amy is her alter-ego.”

Eliza Coupe, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Maggie Q are in a hospital room. Ginnifer is in the bed, the others stand.
Amy (Eliza Coupe), Jodie (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Sarah (Maggie Q) are three friends who get into wacky hijinx on “Pivoting.”

Coupe has also been reluctant to play a mother in the past because she didn’t see many opportunities in what was offered.

“Things have shifted greatly now for female roles, but in the past, to play the wife or the girlfriend or the mother — when usually it’s the men who get the meatier roles or the comedy — has just never been appealing to me,” she said. “It’s usually portrayed as a stock character. And you don’t remember those people. It’s like, ‘Oh, she was the wife of that funny guy. She was the mother of that funny kid.’ I think now [that] things have shifted, which is why I took this role. We, as a collective, have made female roles more multi-dimensional.”

Eliza Coupe, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Maggie Q sit together in a room smiling.
Eliza Coupe, Ginnifer Goodwin and Maggie Q are three longtime friends who recently lost a fourth friend in “Pivoting.”

Aside from “Pivoting” and “Happy Endings,” Coupe has had a prolific career with stints on “Scrubs,” “Future Man” and “Quantico” among others – but she said that “Happy Endings” is still what she’s most commonly associated with, despite that series having a short run from 2011-2013. 

“The funniest thing that’s been happening recently is that I’ll be at a yoga class or in a supermarket and people will be like, ‘I didn’t recognize your face, but I heard your voice and that’s how I knew it was you.’ It’s hilarious. People are finding me on Instagram now and they’re like, ‘When is the next season of ‘Happy Endings’ coming out?’ And I’m like, ‘You’re late to the party, that ship sailed!’”

But if an opportunity came up for a revival of that series, she would participate, she said. “One hundred percent. Absolutely.” 

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