Next week we get a window into the rise to prominence of a historical L.A. icon, billboard queen Angelyne, in a new Peacock limited series that sees EP/star Emmy Rossum embody the hot pink phenomenon (check out my interview with Emmy here). It’s an engaging look into both Angelyne’s life and the attempts of many to uncover the reality behind her self-made persona.
I spoke with Martin Freeman (billboard magnate and Angelyne supporter Maurice Wallach), Alex Karpovsky (fictionalized reporter Jeff Glasner), and Lukas Gage (hopeful documentarian Max Allen) about their roles, Angelyne’s ahead-of-the-times legacy, and how she convinced so many to sacrifice for her dreams.
Angelyne debuts May 19, 2022 on Peacock.
It’s so lovely to get to talk to all of you, and I really enjoyed Angelyne and all your performances. Alex, your character is critically digging into Angelyne’s origins but, when she takes him to this fascinating cosmic performance, he walks away kind of seeing her in the way she sees herself. Tell me what he’s going through.
Alex Karpovsky: I think that’s a really interesting question. I think there are a few conflicting feelings that he has about it. On the one hand, he is frustrated. He wants to get to the truth about her. How did she pull this off? Financially, technically, but also… what drove her emotionally? What was she running away from… all the truth of Angelyne, and he wasn’t getting a lot of it from her, I think that he was getting very frustrated by that.
On the other side of it, you alluded to this, he really enjoyed the spectacle and the one-woman show that she performed for him. The charm and beauty, and, you know, mystery of Angelyne is her ability to kind of dazzle people and almost make them forget what they really came there to do… and so he’s always sort of sure-footed, he’s a pretty secure and confident and experienced journalist, but it took someone like Angelyne to really throw him off his game repeatedly. I really liked that dynamic between the two of them.
Absolutely, it comes across so well. Lucas, it’s interesting to watch Max’s journey through trying to do this supposedly simple documentary, getting frustrated yet pulled into her world at the same time. When he finds out truth about her, he really wants her to know and he emphasizes that. Can you talk to me about what he’s going through? And how it builds to that point?
Lukas Gage: Yeah… I think because he was on such a chase with her for so long, and felt like he was being manipulated, and withheld information, that he wanted to show to her that he had all the pieces of the puzzle. Now that he finally had the upper hand, that finally the power dynamic had shifted and that he was in control, and he could do what she could do. And also, I don’t think it’s completely in a malicious mean way. I think in a way… although he’s upset that she did all these things, he’s thankful that she taught him how to work the system, how to work the game, how to manipulate back, how to not be timid and shy and to break out of his shell. So, it’s really a love-hate relationship between the two of them.
That really comes across in your performance, and I appreciate that. Martin, your character is very interesting to me because he’s one of the first to believe in Angelyne, and he’s so pivotal to what she becomes known for. What draws him in?
Martin Freeman: I would imagine the visual spectacle of that vision walking through his office and laying it on the line for him, because it’s a visually arresting image, right? This very glamorous, sort of bombshell walks into his office and proceeds to tell him how she’s going to change her part of the world, and how he’s going to help change that part of the world. I think he’s a complete sucker for it. And I don’t mean that in a bad way! He’s up for it. He’s really up for a new challenge, he’s a very successful businessman but he hasn’t done this particular thing before. I don’t think anybody had done that particular thing before, and so he was up for the new challenge.
What people were putting up billboards off… just a person being a person, and a phone number, it’s ridiculous, you know? I mean, it feels ridiculous to me now, certainly 30-plus years ago it must have just been bonkers. So, I think he was interested in that, as well as him obviously falling under some sort of spell from her. I think he was also up for the challenge of a new direction slightly, you know, because he probably had gone about as far in the L.A. billboard world as he could go at that time, and so this was another thing to pique his interest.
Finally, I’m fascinated by how, in a way, she succeeded in becoming notable for image alone. It’s a weirdly modern story in a world where you have Instagram influencers and all these other things. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Martin Freeman: *pauses* Gentleman?
Lukas Gage: *pauses* Yes. Yeah, I think it’s crazy that she was really the first pioneer of the self-made image, and of constructing whatever persona you want to be and monetizing off of it. 40, 30 years later, there are people that I see every single day scrolling online that have really kind of copied Angelyne, I mean, she’s the GOAT.
Martin Freeman: They wouldn’t even know that, necessarily, that they’re copying her, but she definitely seems to be ground zero for that.
Lukas Gage: I mean, I feel like she started the kissy-duck-face selfie! I’m not kidding!
Angelyne debuts May 19, 2022 on Peacock.