Playing matchmaker with Cupid's stars

Romantic comedies rely so heavily on chemistry that two actors can make or break the show's future more so than any of television's other obstacles. The leads from ABC's new show Cupid--Bobby Cannavale and Sarah Paulson--chatted with us about the new comedy and from the looks of it, they were meant for each other. Can you tell us what makes the show different from other comedies?

Bobby Cannavale: Yeah, well, for one thing, it’s a one-hour comedy, which I find to be different than most things on television. The only other half hour I’d ever done was Will & Grace. And, so I really liked that this had a lot of laughs and, you know, was romantic. It’s a genuine romantic comedy in the hour format, that we get to shoot in New York City. So, you know, I think it’s very dynamic. So the hour gives you more freedom to do things that other comedies can’t do in half an hour?

Bobby Cannavale: Well, it lets us keep things open. I think every episode can stay open in a one-hour show a little bit better, to keep you wondering what’s going to happen next. Tell us about the relationship between Cupid and Claire.

Sarah Paulson: It’s an interesting dynamic and I was really interested in doing the show because of it. I just like the idea of having two different people from two different walks of life. I know he thinks he’s Cupid, I don’t think he is. We’re two people who have totally opposing views on love and relationships and what it means to be committed to someone and what makes a relationship last.

It's very fertile ground for a lot of funny things that can happen between us. We both have such diverging opinions about what love is. So, trying to convince the other one or trying to prove to the other one that our way is right, is a good ground for lots of funny shenanigans that go on. From the pilot, it seems like Claire doesn’t really even like Cupid first off. But it seems like she’s going to grow, that maybe Claire will give some insight to Cupid and vice versa. Is that what you think might happen?

Sarah Paulson: If we are lucky enough to continue, I think that’s the hope of the show. The pilot is just setting it up and then, you know, the real stuff is what’s happening.

Bobby Cannavale: I think if you look at the reality too, you have a professional here in the psychiatric world, somebody who takes her job very seriously, somebody who obviously went to school and has seen many people. Somebody who runs a relationship group, so she’s committed to helping other people, and then to have a patient like this walk in, you know, leading a group of formally catatonic patients in a rendition of "All You Need is Love." I think that any professional who is given that as a case, would be intrigued.

I don’t know that I agree that she doesn’t like him, I think she’s totally intrigued by what this has to offer. One of the things that I liked in the writing was that it took its time in the development of this relationship. Every week we’re going to see different couples hook up, but the [consistent storyline] should be this relationship that’s growing between Trevor and Claire, both professionally and personally. How do you like working with each other on the set?

Sarah Paulson: I don’t like Bobby very much, it’s very hard for me to go to work. I mean, it’s so tough that I’ve agreed to do a play with him for the next month and a half, two months. I think that’s only something you do when you really don’t like someone, really have no interest in spending any time with them or working with them or being inspired by them or anything. I mean, you kind of just want to run screaming for the hills. [laughs]

Bobby Cannavale: You know, it’s a funny business, right, you got showed a script and you attach yourself to it and then usually other actors come on, and a lot of times you don’t know them and Sarah and I didn’t know each other before and--it’s a roll of the dice really. And, with Sarah and I, we just clicked instantly and--

Sarah Paulson: And it helps that we also had sex.

Bobby Cannavale: And we also had sex, right before the pilot.

Sarah Paulson: Yeah, we just wanted to make sure that we get it out of the way. That’s great, I mean, that’s great advice for all actors.

Sarah Paulson: I think so too. I think you just go ahead, dive in--

Bobby Cannavale: Sleep with your co-star, yeah. So Bobby, tell us what you like and dislike about your character, Cupid.

Bobby Cannavale: Oh, I don’t dislike anything about my character.

Sarah Paulson: Yes, you do.

Bobby Cannavale: I like his openness, I like his directness, I like his initiative, I like his constant need to take what seems like a hopeless prospect and turn it into something fantastic. He’s always doing something with the intention to getting home and so that’s something that I can play all the time and keep him very active. Sarah, same question.

Sarah Paulson: He doesn’t expect to get waylaid by, you know, falling madly in love with me, which will probably happen eventually.

Bobby Cannavale: Getting what with you?

Sarah Paulson: Falling madly in love with me eventually.

Bobby Cannavale: Getting laid?

Sarah Paulson: No, no, no.

Bobby Cannavale: What did you say? You said waylaid?

Sarah Paulson: I said waylaid.

Bobby Cannavale: I hope he gets way laid. [laughs] What do you like or dislike about your character, Claire?

Sarah Paulson: I like that she’s a fighter, I think she’s sort of fighting to hold on to who she is and what she believes, in the world of people who don’t really agree with her a lot of the time. She really does hold steadfast to what she believes and then on the flip side of that, I think she’s also permeable and she lets things sort of come in there and germinate in her mind and then sometimes it alters the way she thinks about things.

I think the worst thing about her, the flip side, is the best thing about her. She’s a little closed down and shut down, [but] she is a psychologist, so she has a certain inquisitive quality to her that keeps her prying the door open a little bit. Okay, great. So, do you think that there might be a love connection between Cupid and Claire?

Sarah Paulson: I think that if we were to do a hundred episodes, I think that would probably be where it would. The mythology behind Cupid is that he did end up marrying a mortal named Psyche and I am a psychiatrist. Can you compare Cupid to any other shows? For example, if someone likes to watch insert-show-name-here, then would they also like to watch Cupid?

Sarah Paulson: I think it’s sort of like Moonlighting, if Moonlighting was about lovemaking, like matchmaking, you know, couples. Like, two people trying to get after the same thing, but have totally different opinions on how to get there.

Bobby Cannavale: I remember when I was a kid, I’d go to this daycare and I remember watching Love American Style and every now and then I’ll think of an episode from back then and think, “Well, this reminds me of that,” the way that show showed different scenarios in which they explored love and relationships.

That’s the closest that I can think of, but the idea of the shrink and the patient, outside of something like The Sopranos. Hey now, that’s a pretty good one, it’s a combination of The Sopranos and Love American Style. [laughs] With all of the violence and flirting. Thanks for talking to us!

Cupid debuts tonight at 10 p.m. on ABC.

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