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Interview: Emmy Rossum On Transforming Into ‘Angelyne,’ Taking On Challenges, & the 80s

If you are looking for Emmy Rossum in the Peacock’s miniseries Angelyne you may need a second look. You might just not recognize her at first. To star in the series, playing the titular Hollywood billboard icon, Rossum goes through quite an impressive transformation. Platinum blonde wigs, multiple hours in the makeup chair, an array of form-fitting pink outfits… oh yeah, and the tough to not notice prosthetically-enhanced bosom are all used to perfection to capture the unique look of Angelyne throughout decades of her life. Beyond the physical alterations, it is what Rossum does as an actress that makes her disappear in the performance. 

Disappearing into the role is quite fitting for a story about a woman whose life had always been a mystery. For many years people had little idea who the real Angelyne was beyond the persona she invented for herself. She’s an enigma, a mystery, a living legend wrapped in pink.

It is this sense of mystery that drew Rossum to the series, which she also serves as executive producer. “Everyone would light up and then tell a completely different story. I was so fascinated by these contradicting rumors and narratives out there about her, that all went to kind of create this kaleidoscopic idea of this mythological unicorn that is Angelyne. So at a certain point, because I love a challenge, I kind of raised my hand and said, ‘I think there’s a story here. I’d really like to tell this story in a very unconventional way.’

Rossum’s love of challenges is evident throughout her career. During her nine years on Shameless playing Fiona Gallagher, the head of a most dysfunctional household, she surprised audiences shedding any image they had of her. Rossum led the often-raunchy series with a perfect mixture of strength, heart, and vulnerability in addition to some perfect comic touches. The role earned her plenty of recognition both by the public and the industry, earning her two Critics Choice nominations. On the opposite end of the spectrum, was here performance as Christine Daaé in the 2004 film adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera. The leading role came with the incredible challenge of delivering a Broadway-caliber performance while singing some very difficult songs – she nailed every note.

Her talent for singing is something that came into good use for Angelyne. “Having the blessing from Angelyne herself to play this role and getting to re-record all of her songs. I was definitely maybe most nervous re-recording all of her songs because her voice is so special and so unique. And that’s a pretty hard thing to fake,” Rossum revealed. “I worked with a vocal coach to help me find the ‘oohs’ and the different shadow squeaks and shadow tones of her voice – which are not things that I even knew that I had. And now, I hear my 10 month old daughter doing those ‘oohs’ and those squeaks and I wonder how that happened.”

When asked about her favorite part about the 80s, I should have seen her answer coming. “The hair!” As you will see in my interview, her curly locks are stunning and may have convinced me that the hair may be one thing we should bring back from the decade. Rossum also pointed out other appealing differences between then and now, “There was a time just before the internet when you could define your own identity, when you could detach from things in a way and define yourself. I think now, everyone knows so much about everyone and everything… and with fame comes a lot of trade offs.”

Hear more about how Emmy transformed into Angelyne, the fantastical elements of the series, and the advice she was given by the Billboard Queen herself in my full interview with Emmy Rossum. 

All five episodes of Angelyne are now streaming exclusively on Peacock.


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Robert Hamer
10 months ago

The [Shameless] role earned her plenty of recognition both by the public and the industry, earning her two Critics Choice nominations.”

And not one Primetime Emmy Award nomination! Ever! Not even once! That will always stick in my craw for as long as I live…



Written by Steven Prusakowski

Steven Prusakowski has been a cinephile as far back as he can remember, literally. At the age of ten, while other kids his age were sleeping, he was up into the late hours of the night watching the Oscars. Since then, his passion for film, television, and awards has only grown. For over a decade he has reviewed and written about entertainment through publications including Awards Circuit and Screen Radar. He has conducted interviews with some of the best in the business - learning more about them, their projects and their crafts. He is a graduate of the RIT film program. You can find him on Twitter and Letterboxd as @FilmSnork – we don’t know why the name, but he seems to be sticking to it.

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