Emmy Rossum’s Angelyne Obsession, Series on Peacock – The Hollywood Reporter

Emmy Rossum was a no-show for a slightly essential assembly. This was to be the ultimate hurdle earlier than filming Angelyne, her miniseries based mostly on Los Angeles’ billboard queen of the identical title, but its star and champion had knowledgeable collaborators on the eleventh hour that she merely couldn’t make it.

Executives had been seated round a Universal City convention desk when their PowerPoint about manufacturing design was interrupted by a busty blonde sporting leopard-print arm heaters and never a lot else. She handed out rose quartz crystals, tickled faces and necks with a peacock feather (a nod to the streaming platform footing the invoice) and cooed a breathy incantation to bless their endeavor with good juju. For a second, at the least, a number of of us within the room thought it was the actual Angelyne. But it was a platinum-wigged Rossum, her 5-foot-8 body propped up on stilettos and a pink lamé minidress pulled taut over the conspicuous 3-pound breastplate glued to her torso.

“She was utterly transformed,” says Alex Sepiol, a drama government at NBCUniversal who was there when Rossum arrived in character. “To give this kind of performance in a business meeting, no one does that. But that’s Emmy, she’s fearless and bold and just a trouper.”

Rossum says, “As my acting coach likes to tell me, intensity is not something I struggle with. I wanted to give them the experience.”

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The actual Angelyne in 1993.
Bernard Fallon/ZUMA PRESS/Newscom

Angelyne and Rossum bear nearly no resemblance to one another, in look or biography, which is one purpose the actress went to such lengths to shore up assist for her mission. The 35-year-old has courted a profitable profession with common performing work since she was a youngster — reserving roles with a imprecise solicitation for “girl next door” sorts and logging 9 seasons because the star of Showtime’s Shameless. Angelyne, however, is a determine of hyperlocal folklore. She turned well-known for being well-known after erecting billboards bearing her distinctive likeness round Los Angeles throughout the Eighties. She supplied no backstory then, and he or she hasn’t since. Ask anyone Hollywood-adjacent what they consider her, and also you’re equally more likely to be greeted with a clean stare or a giddy anecdote in regards to the first time they noticed her pink Corvette. Writer-producer Sam Esmail, Rossum’s husband and frequent collaborator, counted himself among the many former group till his spouse shared a 2017 article from this publication that exposed Angelyne’s actual id as a Poland-born daughter of Holocaust survivors.

“I didn’t know who Angelyne was, and I lived in L.A. for 20-odd years,” says Esmail. “When I googled her, I was a little taken aback as to why Emmy would want to play her, but the more I learned about her, the more it clicked. Reinvention, or a rebirth from trauma, that’s something we all tend to do in different ways.”

Rossum is in a interval of reinvention herself. Her profession’s “complete and singular focus” for 4 years, Angelyne‘s May 19 premiere brought bigger challenges than just outsized prosthetics. She had to court the series’ capricious namesake for her life rights in addition to navigate a pandemic stoppage and a further delay by her personal being pregnant (Rossum and Esmail welcomed a child lady in May 2021). She’s distancing herself from her best-known job up to now — one on which she famously fought for pay parity along with her male co-star — and is utilizing the TV makeover as a calling card for her younger manufacturing firm.

“I found it to be completely liberating to look in the mirror and not see myself at all,” says Rossum of remodeling into Angelyne. “At first, it’s unnerving. But feeling lost gives way to this real liberation — from myself and the hang-ups that can impede a performance.”

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“I think that this business asks a lot of people, and I think it asks a lot of women,” says Rossum.
Photographed by Jenna Greene


“Some actors hate it, but I love eating in scenes,” Rossum publicizes, gesturing her fork towards an egg white omelette after which a aspect of pastrami. On Shameless, which lacked quite a lot of the stage course one usually finds in most scripts, she gravitated towards the kitchen scenes — meals to eat, pots and pans to maneuver, laundry machines to load. “There are certain intimate human behaviors that can offer an opportunity for what you can reveal about a character — how they eat or how they laugh. I love a prop.”

Over breakfast in mid-April on Beverly Drive, outdoors of Nate ‘n Al’s delicatessen, life is imitating artwork a number of instances over. The authentic assembly between my colleague Gary Baum and the actual Angelyne for a pair of articles on which Rossum’s new sequence relies befell at one other deli, Canter’s. On the sequence, the fictionalized encounter was filmed at a Denny’s in a Hollywood strip mall. We are doing our greatest to pay homage to each.

Rossum was born and is as soon as once more a full-time New Yorker, however she spent the majority of her childhood in Los Angeles. The solely little one to single mom Cheryl, an artist who early in her profession served as Steve Jobs’ private photographer, Rossum was thrust into the humanities at a younger age. Cheryl wasn’t a stage mother a lot as a co-conspirator who indulged her daughter’s fondness for singing and performing. Rossum began performing on the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus at Lincoln Center at age 7, backing the likes of Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. In 1998 they migrated to Los Angeles, the place they shared a small condo on Shoreham Drive, inside earshot of the Sunset Strip, in a unit beforehand occupied by Axl Rose. Their landlord, for no matter purpose, disclosed that the bath had not been up to date for the reason that Guns N’ Roses frontman lived there. “I was coming out of the classical music world,” says Rossum. “I didn’t even know who Axl Rose was, however I used to play his music within the bathtub and assume, ‘This feels cool.’ “

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Rossum along with her husband, Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail, additionally an exec producer on Angelyne, in 2019
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Another cultural training that befell upon her arrival proved extra prophetic. Riding shotgun in her mom’s rental automobile, a 13-year-old Rossum first encountered Angelyne. Her billboards may nonetheless be discovered round city again then, and Rossum recollects staring up at one in fascination. “In retrospect, it’s a very curated image, but it had a lot of impact on me,” she says. “I remember seeing a woman who was totally empowered in her body, in her sexuality, in her womanhood in a way that I certainly was not at 13 — somebody that had captured the city’s attention, seemingly magically.”

Control is one thing the actress says she doesn’t give a lot thought to because it pertains to her personal public picture: “The care about what you create is what resonates with me, but I’m not particular. For me, my image is changing constantly. For a character, I’m comfortable showing blemishes or imperfect skin. That helps me tell the story, in the same way that having none of that helps Angelyne. Because she’s a fantasy.”

Rossum discovered Hollywood recognition via extra conventional means than Angelyne. A run of well-received performances in TV films and unbiased movies landed her roles in awards bait (Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River) and blockbusters (Roland Emmerich’s The Day After Tomorrow) earlier than she was solid in Shameless in 2010. The darkish comedy a few blue-collar Chicago household afforded Rossum the chance to shed the good-girl picture she’d cultivated for a decade, as her character, Fiona, distracted herself from a crummy life with intercourse, medicine and the mouth of a sailor. She basically functioned because the sequence’ lead, clocking extra hours on set and on digital camera than anybody, however she spent the primary seven seasons being paid a fraction of what co-star William H. Macy was paid.

“I actually have to pee,” Rossum says as quickly as I broach the contract stalemate that went public when she sought equal pay in 2016, previous the #MeToo and Time’s Up rally cries for feminine enfranchisement that quickly would observe. “I’m not avoiding the question. I just really have to go.”

She mimes dialing her publicist earlier than heading contained in the restaurant, leaving a Hermès bag on the desk as collateral.

“I certainly was never trying to make any kind of grand political statement,” she says upon her return of the practically yearlong negotiation. “I was only trying to do what felt right. The idea of not continuing on Shameless was not one I ever wanted to entertain. So when it all worked out, I was thrilled — thrilled my small victory was part of a much larger tide. But my story is not unique. It was just public. Wage disparity becomes even more pronounced when you factor in age, race, body size and orientation.”

Notes actor Nyambi Nyambi of the ordeal, “The woman cuts through the bullshit.” The Good Fight castmember has been a detailed buddy of Rossum’s since a 2006 Williamstown Theatre Festival manufacturing of Romeo & Juliet. “If Emmy sees something wrong, she does everything she can to change it.”

Still, even after two further seasons with parity, a decade of devoting her profession to 1 character was producing diminishing inventive returns for Rossum, who says she has no regrets about her choice to go away Shameless two seasons earlier than it completed. She was anxious for brand new materials, and her life had modified dramatically since she took the job. In 2012, she met Esmail, the Mr. Robot creator, whereas engaged on his movie Comet. “We fell in love as collaborators,” she says. “He’s the first person that I text or call with an idea, and vice versa. I think watching him work, before I started directing and producing myself, demystified a lot of the process for me.”

They married in 2017, a number of months earlier than she learn Baum’s exposé about Angelyne. They optioned the story, and he or she introduced her impending Shameless exit. “I found, and find, her fascinating,” says Rossum of Angelyne. “There’s an immediacy to her story. She’s the original influencer. She was doing this before anybody. She knew the power of her image, which is why she had so much control over it.”

Rossum, nonetheless, was not content material with simply optioning an article and replicating Angelyne’s picture. She needed her blessing.

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“She’s the original influencer,” says Emmy Rossum of Angelyne, whom she portrays in a brand new restricted sequence on Peacock. “She was doing this before anybody. She knew the power of her image.” Rossum was photographed April 15 at PMC Studios in New York.
Photographed by Jenna Greene


Angelyne is concurrently one of the vital accessible and elusive figures in Hollywood. If you see her Corvette, you should purchase a T-shirt, ample merch or, for the correct worth, {a photograph}. But if you wish to discover her, she’s not out there by conventional means. She has no publicist, no agent. She is also a decidedly free spirit. She dismissed Baum’s vetted report on her previous id as San Fernando Valley resident Renee Goldberg as “vindictive” and has said on a number of events that no efficiency may ever do her justice. Her approval can be tougher to return by than any inexperienced gentle.

But there was an excessive amount of using on Angelyne to let the mission get away. Rossum had give up Shameless and made her intentions public. She had signed a first-look take care of Universal Content Productions, and the sequence can be its first fruit. She courted writers, producers and a director. “Somebody asked me, ‘How did you cast Emmy Rossum?’ ” says Angelyne showrunner Allison Miller. “Emmy Rossum cast me. It’s always been her project. I mean, she bleached her eyebrows for this.” She additionally tried to get into her headspace.

“I bought her meditation tapes on eBay,” Rossum says later that morning, throughout a stroll across the Hollywood Reservoir. “I had a pink Walkman, and I’d play them constantly. They’re quite hypnotic. She says things that are incredibly resonant and deep about identity — how to find yourself out of pain, out of sorrow, out of sadness, in this hot pink bubblegum Barbie fantasy. It worked on me.”

Tapping into her personal ache, as it’s with many actors, is an evolving course of for Rossum. “It’s a combination of imagination, things that are deeply personal and sometimes traumas that are nationally held, things much bigger than myself. It’s nice to have a Rolodex of pain,” she says, laughing. “It’s additionally good to have a Rolodex of pure pleasure. [Shameless showrunner] John Wells used to inform me, ‘The brighter the photograph, the darker the negatives.’ “

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The THR story by Gary Baum about Angelyne’s true background on which the Peacock sequence relies.
The Hollywood Reporter/August 2017

Two years after the sequence was introduced, a gathering between Rossum and Angelyne was lastly organized — in a personal room, per Angelyne’s request, at The Hollywood Roosevelt. “I showed up an hour early, overprepared as usual,” says Rossum. “I could see from the window that her car pulled up on time, but she ended up almost an hour late because she was selling merch out of the trunk.”

When she lastly arrived upstairs, Angelyne launched herself by asking, “So why do you have such a hard-on to play me?”

“That’s why!” exclaims Rossum. They exchanged items. Rossum supplied a field of pink macarons — she is understood for presenting collaborators and associates with baked items — and Angelyne shared a pink crystal. Rossum laid out her pitch for the mission, telling her muse in regards to the nights she spent listening to the tapes, after which purchased some merch. Angelyne’s contract, signed and sealed with a pink lipstick kiss, arrived within the mail quickly after. With a good-looking charge, the manufacturing had secured her life rights, emblems, songs and artwork. For some time, it even appeared like they’d secured lively participation. She met with Miller and director Lucy Tcherniak at Denny’s, the place the trio talked about spaceships. But, by the point manufacturing resumed after pandemic and being pregnant delays, Angelyne was out. She’ll don’t have any formal credit score on the sequence.

There isn’t any official reply for why Angelyne bowed out, and a request for remark despatched to the president of her fan membership (and de facto gatekeeper) went unanswered. Those concerned with the mission echo the identical sentiments on and off the document: She was given the chance to take part within the method she most popular. And that quantities to a quiet payday. Rossum’s reverence for her topic doesn’t waver once I ask in regards to the axed cameo that initially was supposed to punctuate the sequence: “She got to decide how she wanted to be a part of it, and I respect that.”

In the top, Angelyne’s half within the sequence didn’t a lot matter. Skepticism for the mission, or at the least Rossum’s capability to seize its topic, dissipated as quickly as the primary set images leaked. Her non permanent alterations weren’t with out sacrifice. Rossum obtained blisters from the pretend breasts and suffered tear duct points from sporting two pairs of contact lenses and from the oppressive eye make-up throughout the shoot. She typically spent 4 or 5 hours within the make-up chair each morning earlier than most of her colleagues even arrived on set.

“When I say that there are times where I did not recognize her because she was lost in this person, I really mean it,” says Esmail. “This is my wife I’m talking about. It’s kind of eerie.”

Concedes Rossum: “The physicality of the character was difficult. The physique is heavy, but it has to really feel gentle and effervescent. But I simply saved specializing in how fortunate I felt. This alternative is basically each actor’s dream. You elevate your hand and also you say, ‘Hey, I’d wish to play this, and that is how I envision the story.’ “

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Rossum as Angelyne. “I found it to be completely liberating to look in the mirror and not see myself at all,” she says.
Isabella Vosmikova/Peacock


I ask Rossum, as others have, if she sees Angelyne’s schtick as an act. Is she nonetheless the billboard queen when she returns dwelling at night time, or does she shed the function like most actresses do after a day on set? “She is living, breathing performance art,” Rossum concludes. “She has turned her life into art — that’s who she is.”

When Rossum returns dwelling at night time, it’s to her husband, their practically 1-year-old daughter, a cat named after her Shameless character and a rescue canine, Pepper. “All girls,” she says with delight. “Sam is the only man in the house.” And it appears straightforward for her to show work off. Esmail and Rossum play Wordle collectively. They fuss over their daughter. They hang around with their group of shut associates, which incorporates Mr. Robot star Rami Malek. They revel of their return to Manhattan, strolling via Central Park and discovering new locations to eat breakfast. Rossum just lately began filming the Apple TV+ sequence The Crowded Room, an exploration of psychological sickness, through which she performs — to the web’s nice confusion — 25-year-old Tom Holland’s mom. (“I understand the response, but when people see the way in which the role functions — I’m aging backwards and forwards — it’ll make sense.”) She’s mulling a brand new musical endeavor and, maybe most notably, is growing initiatives for her manufacturing shingle, Composition 8 Films, together with an adaptation of Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women.

“I think that this business asks a lot of people, and I think it asks a lot of women,” says Rossum, who’s attempting to make use of her firm to shift feminine compensation — she provides full fertility protection to her workers, not an trade norm — and on-camera illustration. “I have all these little seeds and dreams and ideas — for me, sure, but I’m especially interested in expanding the platform for older actresses.”

Angelyne might spark the second and even third act of Rossum’s profession, however she continues to be younger and fast to emphasise that she’s not simply right here for the fervour initiatives that take years to get off the bottom. She’s very happy to return in and skim for an element.

“I’m a glutton for punishment because auditioning is something I love,” she says. “I like the exploration. I think the act of acting is the work — whether or not I get the job or if people see it or not.”

And that open thoughts even extends to the lady who has consumed her ideas for therefore lengthy now. “I have absolutely no idea if Angelyne will watch,” says Rossum, whose final correspondence along with her muse befell earlier in manufacturing. “I would like her to know that it’s a love letter to her, to the way she helped pave the way for what pop culture has become. But she’s going to do what she wants. She’s a rebel.”

This story first appeared within the May 10 situation of The Hollywood Reporter journal. Click right here to subscribe.

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