Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll is a long way from what Elizabeth Gillies was doing a few years ago. The 21-year-old actress grew up on Nickelodeon, appearing on shows like Victorious and iCarly. Now she’s facing off with a drug-addled, rock star-coiffed Denis Leary on an FX series that is both hilarious and remarkably uncouth (the show premieres Thursday night). Gillies plays Gigi, the long-lost daughter of Leary’s washed-up rocker who hopes to follow in his musical footsteps. The actress sings, swears, and generally fulfills a lot of rock ‘n’ roll fantasies, which it turns out she’s been harboring herself. We spoke to Gillies about working with Leary, ’70s rock, and her bikini-clad role in the upcoming Vacation movie.
How did you get cast on Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll?
It started like any other thing where I was sent the script. But when I was reading it, my jaw dropped to the floor because I was stunned at how perfect it would be if I were to get it. It was everything I could have asked for in a show. I made my [audition] tape and sent it in and they liked it so I had a chemistry read with Denis. We got off pretty well and I sang for him and the rest was history.
Were you looking for a role that would allow you to sing?
Yeah, it was almost as if I was waiting for this. It’s such a rare thing that this kind of show even happens. But every show I’ve done, I’ve gotten the chance to sing because that’s where I started. That’s really important to me. The fact that this let me sing and it was original music and it was rock music—it kept getting better and better. I was highly determined to get it. My character is a really tough broad and I thought that was very cool. It was fun for me to play somebody that strong.
When you come off a teen show, is there a strong urge to do something more hard-edged?
Yeah, of course. I am myself a little bit crass and edgy so this feels really good to be doing. People who know me know I’ve had the mind of a 40-year-old since I was about 13. Any time my age can go up as far as acting, I’m happy. I’m happy I’m not playing 17 anymore, that’s for sure. This feels right for me at this point in my career. And I’m lucky I get to do it this soon. Usually there’s some middle step between Nickelodeon and straight-up adult TV.
I mean, the characters on the show talk about your boobs constantly.
I know! I feel so bad because my parents want to have this viewing party with all of my family members. They’re inviting some conservative family members over. I just don’t think anyone has any idea the content of the show. I’m like, “This is going to be very embarrassing for me if everyone comes over and we do this.” But putting that aside, it’s fun. And everyone on the show is so funny. They’re comedians. It’s rough—it’s a rough kind of humor and there’s a lot of bad language. But it’s so fun. It’s real and it’s gritty and it’s raw. We’ll see how the kids and the parents react.
Are you worried about that?
A lot of people come from Nickelodeon and when they’re perceived as a sweeter kind of character, it’s hard. I played a goth bitch on Victorious so it’s not as much of a shocking transition for me. I never put on a façade. I was always being myself. So this feels normal to all my fans who have stuck with me and are my age now. But a lot of people who come from teen TV feel like they have to apologize publicly on Twitter or something. For me, it’s an art form at the end of the day. I don’t think it should freak people out too much.
The show includes a lot of rock history. Is that something you’re actually into?
I am. My interest is a little different than Denis’. Our tastes in rock and roll are slightly different so I learned a lot as far as the New York bands. His character goes off on a lot of bands and a lot of band trivia. I always loved ’70s Woodstock rock and roll, which he does not—he’s very clear about that. It was good for me to learn about this harder side of rock and roll. He educates me. He’s very well-versed.
What’s the best band you discovered?
You know, Joan Jett was on the show. I was obviously a fan of Joan Jett—everyone is because she’s so badass and talented and amazing. But I wanted to refresh and look into it more so I was listening to a lot of the Runaways and the Blackhearts. I have such an appreciation for that music now.
After shooting this show, do you have a sense of whether it’s true that musicians need to be drunk or high to create good art?
We talked about this a lot. Denis and I had this conversation onset. He goes on a rant in an episode where he compares certain artists drunk and certain artists sober and what they made. But I don’t know. I never was that person. I never felt the need to do any of that in order to create. I was always actually scared it would hinder my brain and turn it off and make it less valuable. It’s different for every person. I don’t think the Beatles would have written a lot of that record had they not been high on LSD. It would have come out very differently. It’s not the route I would take. But I guess I’m a little bit of a pussy at the end of the day when it comes to drugs.
Did you have to worry about being a “good girl” when you were on a Nickelodeon show?
In the public eye, for sure. But not in life. We were a very fun cast and we were kind of the rebels of Nickelodeon. We were older, too. But I don’t go out and I don’t really do anything bad. The worst thing I do is curse. But yeah, there’s a closer eye on you. People are looking to tear you down if you have a persona and you go against that. That would have been problematic if I was more of a party girl. I hope my future daughter has more fun than I did as a teenager. I just wasted all that time. I should have been a little sluttier and a little crazier.
You’re still young. There’s time.
I can still turn it all around!
Did Denis give you any good advice while making the show?
The best advice he ever gave me was to trust my instincts and not think. I was always very focused on how I looked or how I was coming off or how my voice sounded. I was outside my body looking at myself as opposed to just being in the moment. He told me the best things come when you just let go. Sometimes I’ll watch it back and I won’t like how I look or how I said something, but I see that it’s so in the moment and so honest that it’s cooler and it’s better. He has so much wisdom. He’s kind of genius actually.
Is that his real hair on the show?
It is! Isn’t that amazing? I asked that day one. It’s incredible. I hope to have that much hair when I’m his age.
You’re also in the new Vacation movie.
I am! I’m one of the stops along the way to Walley World. It’s a very funny scene. I’m in a bikini. I can’t give away too much. It came up out of nowhere and they cast me really quickly. I had to be in Atlanta, where they were shooting, immediately. I had just been on hiatus so I was eating and chilling out and then they told me I had to be in a bikini in like two weeks. I dropped the doughnut I was eating and did a power workout for a week. I think I got away with it.
So you’re saying actors just sit around and eat in their off-time?
That’s what I do. Other actors probably work out and try to get more jobs. I sound like a fat squirrel. That’s not a good quote. I swear I do other things!
Gallery > Elizabeth Gillies > Photoshoots > Elizabeth – Photoshoots in 2015 > Esquire
Thanks to JustJaredJr.com I’ve added 4 large pictures of Victoria Justice attending the JetBlue Soar With Reading Program Event at the New York Aquarium in Brooklyn, New York on Friday afternoon (July 10).
The 22-year-old actress partnered up with the program for the second time and helped to celebrate the 5th anniversary by reading Mary Pope Obsorne‘s “Magic Tree House #53: Shadow Of The Shark”.
Gallery > Victoria Justice > Appearances > Victoria – Appearances in 2015 > JetBlue Soar With Reading Program (10-07)
Ariana Grande will make her big-screen debut in the comedy sequel Zoolander 2! The news was revealed as a direct result of Grande’s “Donut-Gate,” in which, as Gossip Cop previously reported, the singer was caught on surveillance cameras at Wolfee Donuts in Lake Elsinore, California seemingly licking donuts on display and saying on July Fourth, “I hate Americans. I hate America.”
As Gossip Cop reported, Susan Sarandon was one of the few celebrities to support Grande during the controversy, tweeting on Thursday, “lick a doughnut in solidarity with @ArianaGrande. A sweet, talented, true American.” In a subsequent interview with Vulture, Sarandon explained her quote by saying, “Well, I just worked with her. We did Zoolander 2 together, in Rome. She couldn’t be more professional or sweet.” She further defended Grande by stating, “Clearly [her remarks were] taken out of context,” and expressed that people should focus instead on the “effects of GMOs, which affect your health a lot more than licking a doughnut.” Sarandon ended by expressing, “She’s smart, and she’s a really great, very talented person. It’s just ridiculous they’re jumping on her the way they are.”
Zoolander 2, which was co-written and directed by Ben Stiller, also stars Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Penelope Cruz, and Kristen Wiig. As Gossip Cop previously reported, in addition to Grande’s cameo, Justin Bieber will also be in the comedy sequel, which is slated to hit theaters on February 12, 2016. What do you think about Ariana Grande being in Zoolander 2?
You have to wonder if maybe everything Denis Leary has done to date in his career was just a warmup to play the ultimate rock ’n’ roll maniac.
As Johnny Rock in “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll,” which debuts Thursday on FX (10 p.m.), Leary becomes that guy — and he plays Johnny like a maniacal 22-minute drum solo.
But there’s a twist here. The show quickly turns out to be not a solo, but a duet.
What makes it sing is the starburst of Elizabeth Gillies as Gigi, the precocious, sharp-tongued, street-smart daughter Johnny never knew he had.
She explodes into his life wanting the fame and fortune he squandered – and she’s good enough to get it.
And yes, we’re talking about that Elizabeth Gillies. The one who sang in “13” on Broadway when she was 15 and spent the last few years in hit Nickelodeon shows like “Victorious,” where she played Jade West.
“”It’s definitely a different role,” says Gillies, who turns 22 later this month. “But I don’t think it’s a total reset. In a lot of ways, Gigi is actually a sweeter character than Jade.”
Gillies isn’t the first actor from a teen comedy to resurface in a show like “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll.” Their route just usually takes them through a few transitional shows, maybe a sitcom or a young adult drama.
“I skipped over the middle step entirely,” she says. “But I don’t think I needed it. I also don’t think Gigi will be too shocking.”
Most viewers will eventually agree. When we first meet her, though, she comes on like an R-rated tsunami, flattening everything in her path.
The backstory: Gigi’s mother knew Johnny in New York when he was the depraved lead singer of the dysfunctional, short-lived and now iconic punk-alt-rock band the Heathens, who broke up the day their first album was released.
She returned to Ohio without telling Johnny she was in a family way, hoping her daughter would choose any life except Johnny’s. So when Gigi turns 21, naturally she hops the first ride to New York to find Johnny and become a rock star herself.
From left, Denis Leary as Johnny Rock, John Corbett as Flash, Robert Kelly as Bam Bam, John Ales as Rehab in “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll.”
From left, Denis Leary as Johnny Rock, John Corbett as Flash, Robert Kelly as Bam Bam, John Ales as Rehab in “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll.”
She doesn’t come to town with a bashful, hopeful look in her eye. She comes offering two things Johnny has completely run out of — money and a last shot at fame.
She can sing. She needs Johnny to get back together with his old Heathens guitarist Flash (John Corbett) and write her some songs.
So even though his “dad” skills are about on a par with his ability to turn down a line of cocaine, it’s an offer he can’t refuse.
“She’s trying to be the authority figure,” says Gillies. “She’s trying to be the adult for this guy who obviously needs one. Yet she really needs parenting herself. She’s very vulnerable.
“It’s great to play someone who seems so tough, but has that vulnerability. And Denis allowed me a lot of creative freedom in developing her, so that was also great.”
A surprising portion of the sometimes explicit dialogue in the fast-paced show was made up on the fly, Gillies says.
“Denis encouraged that, and I was completely down with it,” she says. “Sometimes we went way off the reservation, and a lot of that ended up in the show.
“Denis and I have the same sense of humor. So we’d fire bullets at each other. He’d throw things at me and I’d throw them back just as quickly.”
As this suggests, Gillies says she didn’t spend a lot of time being intimidated on the set.
“With Corbett, I did have to get past the ‘Sex and the City’ thing,” she admits. “I couldn’t go forward thinking about Aidan [Corbett’s role as Carrie Bradshaw's boyfriend] every five seconds.
“But once I got over that, the playing field leveled out pretty quickly. I’m the youngest one there by about 20 years, but most of my friends are older than me, so it wasn’t too big a stretch.”
Amusingly enough, Gillies’ personal taste in music arcs back earlier than the 57-year-old Leary’s.
“Denis leans toward that ’80s New York scene,” she says. “I’m more into Woodstock-y rock. I listen to ’40s music and jazz, too.”
The Heathens are straight from that New York ’80s scene, and Leary wrote the show’s first five songs, including the screaming title track.
But Gillies’ first number at a showcase is a ballad, and it’s clear that when she performs with the reunited Heathens, it won’t just be reprising their old material.
While Gigi isn’t a songwriter, the real-life Gillies is. She has recorded several of her own numbers in addition to a range of tunes that range from a reworking of the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses” to a duet of “Santa Baby” with her colleague and pal Ariana Grande.
She says she and Leary have talked about her writing songs for potential future seasons of “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll.”
Moving forward with her own musical career is one of Gillies’ several long-term ambitions. She says she didn’t do much of anything outside the show while it was filming, “since it was pretty much nonstop for three months. . . . But now I have some time for other stuff.”
Further down the line, she’d like that other stuff to include writing producing and directing.
“I like seeing how things are put together,” she says. “I’ve seen how much power you can have, and I’m definitely interested.”
In fact, she jokes, “Maybe I should just become Tina Fey. I’ll get right on that.”
She does say she’s had two great teachers in Leary and Dan Schneider, creator of “Victorious,” “iCarly” and several other Nick hits.
“They work very differently, but they’re both geniuses,” she says. “Dan’s shows have a very well-crafted formula, which is exactly what they need, so you do them as scripted. Denis is a lot more laid-back.
“Of course, that’s also a reflection of the networks they’re on.”
At the very least, Gillies is optimistic that Gigi should minimize the chance she would be stereotyped in the future as just another former teen star.
“This show requires a lot,” she says. “There’s comedy, drama, music. I’m so proud of this show, and I hope people who watch it will see that I can do more than one thing.”
As for the possibility some of her family, friends and fans may be a little taken aback by some of the things Gigi says and does, she expresses hope that anyone who stays with it will realize the heart of the show lies less in rock ’n’ roll excess and more in an unlikely connection between a disconnected father and daughter.
“I’m not sure some of my younger fans will be watching,” she says. “But a lot of the older ones will. Playing Gigi is like graduation.”
Elizabeth Gillies and the cast of Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll stopped by SiriusXM’s at the Comic Con in San Diego. I’ve added 3 high quality pictures to our gallery.
Gallery > Elizabeth Gillies > Appearances > Elizabeth – Appearances in 2015 > SiriusXM’s Entertainment Weekly Radio Channel Broadcasts From Comic-Con 2015 (11-07)
Elizabeth Gillies and the cast of “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll” attended the 20th Century Fox Party at Comic-Con to promote their show. So far I’ve added 22 high quality pictures but stay tuned for more to come.
Gallery > Elizabeth Gillies > Appearances > Elizabeth – Appearances in 2015 > 20th Century Fox Party at Comic-Con (10-07)