Emmy Rossum is unrecognizable in Peacock’s five-part limited series Angelyne, the star and executive producer’s four-years-in-the-making passion project. She transforms everything, from her voice to her appearance, to play the titular real-life character, who rose to popularity after several enigmatic billboards of her popped up in L.A. in the ’80s. Her real identity was largely a mystery until The Hollywood Reporter published an exposé on her in 2017.
Rossum, best known for her role as Fiona Gallagher in Showtime’s Shameless. Passionately pursued this new venture, even pitching Angelyne to network executives fully decked out as her character. Her commitment pays off as the miniseries charts exciting. Her real identity was largely a mystery until The Hollywood Reporter published an exposé on her in 2017.
Emmy Rossum on transforming into Los Angeles’ mysterious Angelyne.
Surreal territories in its exploration of Angelyne’s life. Including how she was able to pay for that constant self promotion, what she’s been up to all these years, and how she got to L.A. in the first place. While also wildly coloring outside the lines depending on who is in control of the narrative in the scene.
The A.V. Club spoke to Rossum about what it took to portray Angelyne over several decades. The lengthy prosthetics process to get into her shoes, and how she feels now that the show is finally out in the world.
[Editor’s note: The last question and answer in this interview contain spoilers about Angelyne.
Transforming into Los Angeles’ mysterious Angelyne.
The A.V. Club: You’ve been working on making Angelyne for so long now. What was it like when you saw yourself fully transformed and in character for the first time?
Emmy Rossum: It really was a long time coming. I was so thrilled when Kate Biscoe, our makeup department head, and Vincent Van Dyke, our prosthetics designer, agreed to work on the project. I really needed someone to make a Sistine Chapel on me because Angelyne is unlike any other. Playing her over so many decades and aging in both directions is very challenging, and to do it realistically but with kindness, grace, glamor, and accuracy. It was important for me to handle it tenderly. The first time with all the makeup and prosthetics, it took 11 and a half hours. We got it down to seven for the contemporary day look. While also wildly coloring outside the lines depending on who is in control of the narrative in the scene.
When they spun me around to look into the mirror after it all,
nothing of me was there. The nails, earlobe, neck, chest, waist, nose, the upper eyelids, the entire face, none of it was mine. I was wearing two pairs of contacts in each eye. When I started speaking in Angelyne’s voice, I didn’t even know where I was anymore. I remember shaking because I was scared not to see or hear myself at all. And then I just felt an immense wave of possibility; I could do anything within this and stretch my boundaries. I had so much gratitude that this incredible team made it happen. While also wildly coloring outside the lines depending on who is in control of the narrative in the scene.
AVC: How challenging was it to act with all the prosthetics
ER: I thought that if they’re done well, it would only enhance what I was doing. Everyone worked hand-in-hand and tirelessly to perfect their responsibility. I remember Kate told me she would dream every single night about Angelyne’s eyeliner; she would dream of doing it and perfecting it. And then she was nervous about it each morning. She had a magical pink wand that she would bless the hair, makeup, and prosthetics with. [The look] is all part of telling the story. These are real artists. For me, my responsibility was to do my 10,000 hours to perfect Angelyne’s voice and try to bring humanity to every moment. While also wildly coloring outside the lines depending on who is in control of the narrative in the scene.