ABC premieres the reboot of the Rob Thomas series CUPID (which first aired in 1998), tonight on ABC. The story of a man named Trevor who the people of NY kind of think is crazy, because he thinks he’s CUPID. The Cupid, the man tasked with matching 100 souls in true love before he’s able to get back to Mount Olympus. He is required by law to see a shrink, which is where the lovely Claire McRae comes into the picture. Burned by love in the past, she sees Trevor only as a crazy person who is imagining his need to play Cupid, and tries with all of her might to get him to realize it to. Little does she know that it’s kind of obvious Cupid is just what she needs to believe in love again.
I had the great chance to talk with Cupid and Dr. McRae, portrayed in this version of the series with aplomb by Bobby Cannavale (THIRD WATCH, WILL & GRACE) and Sarah Paulson (STUDIO 60). We talked about the stigma (or lack thereof) attached to a brand new version of the same old show, and why people should tune in and watch!
For starters, Bobby, I loved you in THE STATION AGENT. One of my favorite movies!
Bobby: Oh thank you, that’s really nice!
And Sarah, I was a huge fan of your work on STUDIO 60! I’m a huge fan of both of yours, so it’s exciting to see you together!
Bobby: Oh thank you!
Sarah: Thank you!
Can you guys talk for a minute about what drew you to these characters?
Sarah: Go for it Bobby!
Bobby: I was looking to do something that I thought was funny, oddly enough, grounded in some kind of reality. Believe it or not, this show actually hit the mark for me. I really wanted to find something that I would have very few limitations. If the show were to go for a, that I’d have fun playing, that I wouldn’t get bored playing. I thought this one really fit the bill. The idea that this sort of no boundaries kind of guy, to be hooked in with this woman who has a different set of rules, and how they would affect each other, how that relationship would grow, learning about love, talking, and friendship really interested me. And working with Sarah really interested me. That still does. Those things! What about you Sarah?
Sarah: There’s a million answers. One is that I really wanted a job. I really liked the concept. I liked the idea of shooting in NY. I liked the idea of playing a woman with a strong career and a certain set of ideas that were, very, sort of constantly being challenged. I thought the writing was really smart, and funny. The main reason was Bobby. I feel like I’m repeating myself, because I’m saying this to everybody, so Bobby has to keep listening to it, so I’m sure he’s starting to feel like it’s not really true. It is really true.
Sarah: Haha! It was a very important part of why I wanted to do it. Once I read the script, and I knew Bobby was doing it, I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing the part. I love the idea of being able to work with him every day.
Your show is kind of unprecedented in that it already had life, previously, under different circumstances. It’s different enough that it stands alone. Is there any sort of stigma attached to that?
Sarah: I don’t know that there’s a stigma attached to it, but it’s sort of unprecedented. You don’t often take a show that didn’t work and give it another shot [laughs].
Bobby: It is what it is. I certainly never heard of it before but I have been involved, as Sarah has, in revivals of plays, where you pack it in your own way. Because the materials is good. I think the concept was always a good concept, and for whatever reason, it didn’t work. I don’t think it didn’t work because the show wasn’t good. I think those were sort of its own circumstances, television, the business, whatever you want to say, things I have no concept of. The concept was always a good idea. Like Sarah said, I think for both of us, the relationships between the doctor and the patient is really stimulating for me, because that can go anywhere. How many people do we know who are in therapy forever?
Sarah: Like me, hahaha!
Bobby: Like Sarah! And so that really interested me. Every week, we’re going to have different guests on the show, and while there’s not a very strong attachment to those, I have a lifeline there with Sarah, and it very much interests me in telling the story between those two characters.
Beyond the pilot, what are some fun things that the audience has to look forward to this season?
Bobby: Sarah and me dancing.
Sarah: That episode, when is that episode even airing? That’s the one that I’m going to be calling my friends about!
Bobby: I like when Trevor and Claire are thrown together in a situation that is not expected.
Sarah: When I sort of lean on you in a sort of inappropriate way.
Bobby: The surprises that happen. I think Trevor’s very much into sort of controlling everything, and making sure things run according to plan, his plan, and what’s really fun is when that sort of gets turned on his head, when he’s surprised. I think he’s someone that’s very open to being surprised, particularly by somebody who he has a very strong connection with, the Claire character. Those sort of fun moments, the spontaneous surprises, which is redundant, are the most fun things for me.
Bobby: That was a lot of fun!
Sarah: We just laughed. We were shooting one night, until I don’t know, some ungodly hour, and I just remember spending a lot of time on the floor, laughing really hard. She is very funny.
Bobby: The one thing about shooting a television show in New York, I grew up right across the river in New Jersey, and all I ever wanted was to work in New York and be a New York actor. I managed to stay here in the city, my whole career. I worked in the theatre, Sarah worked in the theatre, and we got the chance to work with the best acting pool in the world. There’s nothing more fun than picking up a call sheet for the new episode and seeing who is playing the parts, from the smallest parts to the biggest parts. You can have a scene or two or three with some really esteemed actors here in New York, that maybe not everybody will know, but that we know, and have seen in a play before. Or, have liked their work. “Oh God, remember this guy, he was in this play. It was so good” and then boom, there they are on the call sheet. That’s a lot of fun for me!
Do you expect to be back on stage soon?
Bobby: We’re in rehearsal right now for a play together, ironically! Sarah and I are doing a play.
Sarah: We really are, we’re doing a play together!
What would you say to fans about why they should tune in?
Sarah: Why don’t you take that one Bobby? [laughs]
Bobby: You know, I think the writing is really funny. I think that the awkwardness of relationships, and the awkwardness of getting to know somebody, and the awkwardness of getting thrown together by this sort of life force that is Trevor, you know, makes for a really fun hour of television, I think. It’s got a little bit of everything. Except for blood. We don’t have a lot of blood on our show.
Sarah: Haha, not a lot of blood and murder and intrigue.
Bobby: I think it’s a fun show. It’s a fun show to just sit back and laugh with. I hope that people will be able to make some kind of connection and make something of the show. I think there’s something every week that people will be able to relate to, and be able to say, Oh I felt that way. The sort of opposing viewpoints that Trevor and Claire have, it has a little bit of something for everybody. At the same time, it doesn’t feel like we’re kowtowing to any sort of conventional point of view. I think it’s really smart that way.