For those of us who do not live in the Los Angeles area, the name Angelyne may not ring a bell. The Peacock limited series, starring the amazing Emmy Rossum (Shameless, Mystic River) in the title role, aims to not only introduce us the LA icon, but also reveal there’s more to the lady behind the billboards besides her one-of-a-kind looks and a sea of green outfits and accessories.
Showrunner and Executive Producer, Allison Miller, sat down with me to discuss the modern day Hollywood icon, why she admires her, and working with an “inspiration” like Emmy Rossum. The series, which is now streaming on Peacock, like the woman it is based on, is full of surprises and will have you hypnotized on a fantastical journey that spans decades and universes. Enjoy our conversation. (video interview below)
Steven Prusakowski / Awards Radar : I’m really enjoying Angelyne, it’s such an interesting and bizarre tale – much more bizarre than you’d think real life can be. What about it made you decide to tell her story now?
Allison Miller: Well, Angelyne is unconventional and we really wanted to tell it in an unconventional way. I love that you call it bizarre because that makes me really happy that we were able to protect the kind of bizarreness of the show. We got to use reconstructed archive footage and we have dance numbers and spaceships and we wanted to honor the mythology of Angelyne. Kind of the idea of an homage to her rather than a biopic .It’s more inspired by her than anything. And, as someone who grew up on movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich, I like the idea that I could have the chance to tell a story, in an unconventional way; that the story demanded to be told in an unconventional way was a huge opportunity for me.
Steven Prusakowski: Angelyne is such a complex character, do you see her as someone to admire, someone to feel bad for, or somewhere in between?
Allison Miller: Oh, absolutely someone to admire. One thing I learned in this process, and researching her is what an amazing businesswoman she is. She is out there every day creating this idea of herself. She created herself as a myth. And, the idea that it’s not necessarily a show about just Angelyne, it’s also a show about Los Angeles about what Los Angeles means to everyone and the people who live here. She painted her Corvette pink, and because she knew it would become almost like a logo.
My friends will text me a pink Bentley or a pink Jeep and they’ll be like, ‘Oh, did Angelyne buy a Jeep?’ The idea is not like that someone else would have thought to paint their cars pink. It’s that Angelyne, of course, would be the person behind this car. So it’s funny.
Steven Prusakowski: What was your first exposure to her?
Allison Miller: I came here in ‘99. I went to graduate school at UC Irvine. And so I would drive around LA and I saw the billboards then. And they always stuck with me. They were fairly common – even though not anything like the 80s when they were everywhere. I was always intrigued by who this person was. Then I remember reading The Hollywood Reporter article and thinking about her, thinking about what an American story it is, because it’s an immigration story. It’s always interested me.
Steven Prusakowski: Did you vote for her?
Allison Miller: I am a Texas voter, actually.
Steven Prusakowski: So would you have?
Allison Miller: I would have. I’d be curious to see what would happen.
Steven Prusakowski: So what was it like working with Emmy (Rossum) on this; both as an actress and as a producer? What did she bring to the project?
Allison Miller: Oh my God, everything! I mean, she’s been so committed to the project, every step of the way. She’s been such a great creative partner. And she’s operating at such a high level, because she’s also a writer, she’s also a director. So she’s such a great creative partner for that reason, because you can go to her as a director and editing, and say ‘What are you feeling?’ ‘What are you thinking?’ ‘What am I doing here?’ She’s just a great sounding board for all those things. And she’s so she knows the character so well, she worked so hard to bring it to life. That it was really an inspiration. I feel like, at times, making TV is hard. And at times, it felt too hard. I think we always had each other and that was nice to have someone in my corner.
Steven Prusakowski: It’s amazing to watch her transformation – the wigs, the makeup, the costumes and all this. What was it like putting that all together, building her. And how did that help her transform into the role?
Allison Miller: Well, it was a breathtaking amount of work. I mean, there were days when I would get to set. And she had already been there five hours. And her days just started, it’s a 12 hour shooting day. The amount of time she spent in the hair and makeup, getting it just right – it was really inspiring. you’d have to ask her.
Steven Prusakowski: And I’m sure it was exhausting…
Allison Miller: I mean, I felt exhausted just watching her put it all together.
Steven Prusakowski: What do you hope people take away from the series?
Allison Miller: I think it’s such a show about identity and survival. She says in the show, ‘I’m fully realized’, and everyone should do that. I feel that if more people can be empowered to be the people that they are on the inside, and own themselves and their stories, without worrying about what other people think – that would be amazing. Even just one person.
Steven Prusakowski: That’s great. To close, what three words would you use to describe Angelyne?
Allison Miller: Fame, identity and survival.
Steven Prusakowski: Perfect. I like it. Well, thank you so much. I’m excited to hear what people have to say once Angelyne hits Peacock. Congrats.
Allison Miller: Thank you so much, Steven.