The new season of ABC's critically-acclaimed sitcom Happy Endings is currently underway, and a few weeks ago, I had the chance to talk to stars Elisha Cuthbert and Zachary Knighton about Season Three with a bunch of other journalists. Cuthbert and Knighton play Alex and Dave on the show, the couple whose disastrous wedding kicked off the pilot episode. Now, two years in, their characters are back together, in addition to a lot of other exciting stuff that Happy Endings has in store for us this season. Cuthbert and Knighton chatted with us about racist parrots, why Kiefer Sutherland couldn't play his 24 daughter Cuthbert's dad in this show too, and the stiff competition Happy Endings is receiving from New Girl and Go On.
Journalist: So, what's new this season?
Elisha Cuthbert: Us back together.
Zachary Knighton: We were gonna break up or something, but we're still together
Cuthbert: I know! I guess they're liking it. We'll see. Hopefully the fans will like it.
Journalist: Is that what you guys were told, that we’ll just see where it goes as the season rolls out? Because you’ve been going back and forth since the beginning.
Cuthbert: Right, but nobody’s actually seen us together, like this, where we’re a real, real couple. We were just told off the start that it was just gonna be one of those things where we’ll see how it goes for a couple and if it's weird then we’ll have the option to change, but so far, we’re [good].
Knighton: It’s definitely weird.
Cuthbert: It is. It’s still weird, but it’s working for some reason.
Journalist: And what are we learning besides seeing your characters in a relationship?
Knighton: I think maybe you’re learning about how dumb these two people can be. [Laughs]
Cuthbert: I think they knew that about me already.
Knighton: With each other, it’s kind of like a Voltron of stupidity. It’s like two dumb things come together and make a super robot of….
Cuthbert: …craziness and dumbness.
Knighton: …and insanity.
Journalist: Are we gonna be seeing the same problems that lead to the break up in the first place?
Knighton: I don’t think so, we’re not having many problems right now, it’s kind of funny, they’re just letting us be.
Cuthbert: I think you can see how indecisive we are as individuals and then together, really kind of feeding off each other, “Is this the right thing to do?” And he’s kind of like, “I don’t know.” As opposed to like, Brad and Jane, who are so solid.
Journalist: How do all the friends react to the coupling?
Knighton: They don’t care, that's the thing. We are the ones that are making a big deal about it. They're like, "Whatever, we don't care. Nobody cares about your stuff anymore."
Cuthbert: They're like, "We’re over you two. Just do what you want to do." [Laughs]
Journalist: Elisha, how are you feeling about Christopher McDonald as your dad and not [24 costar] Kiefer [Sutherland] because you were rallying so hard to have Kiefer on the show?
Cuthbert: Yeah, everything works out for a reason. Obviously, he’s doing his show, which is great, but I think this is gonna be good. For what they’ve written and how they want our parents to be, I think it’s a great fit. I’m really excited. Everything always works out the way it should.
Journalist: He could be another relative.
Cuthbert: Absolutely, there’s always room for that, and I love him.
Knighton: I guess we’ve met everybody’s parents at this point. Wait, we haven’t met Dave’s mom.
Cuthbert: And then we haven’t met Damon’s mom and we haven’t met Casey’s dad.
Knighton: There’s still room for Kiefer somewhere.
Journalist: So, what’s coming up for the food truck and for Alex’s store?
Cuthbert: We have not seen the store yet [this season].
Knighton: The food truck has a very small role and the store has not been around. A lot of mentions of how empty and business-less it is.
Cuthbert: I think it’ll come up, it just hasn’t yet.
Knighton: How are you paying your rent on that store? Chicago rent is not [cheap].
Cuthbert: Must be getting money from my folks. I have no idea. We haven’t been in there yet; I’m kind of missing it. There’s gotta be something coming up.
Knighton: Maybe that racist parrot will come back.
Cuthbert: I heard, actually, that the parrot’s coming back, which I’m really excited about. Tyler.
Knighton: [Laughs] Who names a parrot Tyler?
Cuthbert: I name all my pets Tyler just so I don't get confused.
Journalist: Now that you guys are in season three and obviously the writers know you really well, are they writing towards you a lot more maybe than they did in the first season or second season even?
Knighton: I would definitely say yes and I would say it's crazy how every episode has been funnier than the last one. Everybody is getting really great stuff this year and I don’t know… so far, this just feels like definitely the best stuff that we’ve done.
Cuthbert: And also there’s a sense of calm because we’ve got the full 22 [episode order] for this season, so I think we all feel like we really have settled in and maybe because we’re so confident with who our characters are now, we’re not sort of searching for our voice in the show. I just get a real sense that everyone’s real relaxed and there’s no sort of urgency or sense of panic so it lends itself to really great stuff and feeling really comfortable and confident.
Knighton: Yeah, that’ll all change when we premiere against The New Girl and Go On, that's all the sudden doing these big numbers. [Laughs] Great.
Cuthbert: And I think it’s also that we’re really comfortable with each other too. It feels really good this year.
Splitsider: Was your characters getting back together something you thought was going to happen eventually or did it come as a surprise?
Knighton: I mean, how many times did like Ross and Rachel get back together? I feel like that’s just sort of how it lives in the sitcom world. I’m really happy that they went with it, because to me, the whole Alex, Dave, and Penny thing, it was like come on. I was hoping that we would get back together because we haven't seen that element of our characters yet.
Cuthbert: And I wasn’t really sold on, “We should definitely not be together.” Now that we’ve sold that we’re friends and this is what it is, I wasn't adamant about one or the other. When they came to me, I thought, “This is great. More stuff for me to work with and a totally new dynamic between the two of us. It’ll feel different than season two.” I was sort of excited about it.
Journalist: What little quirks from your characters would you like to see get picked up this season? Like more hula-hooping?
Cuthbert: I think you’re definitely gonna see a lot of eating still. She loves to eat, which I think is so funny. It's tough to do, but it’s such a funny character point that we definitely come back to this year. There’s a backstory to it too, which is great
Journalist: Any final message for the fans?
Knighton: Yes, please watch. [Laughs] DVR The New Girl because we want them to do fine, but watch us at the time that we come on. [Laughs]
Cuthbert: And to thank them for being so supportive. It's been great. We just saw a cool mash-up on YouTube.
Knighton: Yeah, there’s like a Happy Endings remix on there right now, it’s really funny. I love that stuff.
Cuthbert: It's amazing. We’ve got good fans, really good fans, so [I'd] just say thanks to them.
New episodes of Happy Endings air Tuesday nights at 9/8c on ABC.