In FX’s new comedy Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, Denis Leary plays Johnny Rock, a washed-up, drugged-out frontman for a punk-rock band that had its moment in the sun and then broke up nearly 25 years ago. Since then, Johnny’s been barely scraping by. But things start looking up when a beautiful young woman, Gigi (Elizabeth Gillies), Johnny’s estranged daughter, shows up and asks Johnny to help make her famous. With the looks, the talent and the voice, Gigi might be Johnny’s ticket to fame after all.
Gillies, perhaps best known for her role in Nickelodeon’s Victorious (and maybe soon for the new Vacation movie), is absolutely on fire vocally and visually in her more adult SDRR role. “She can sing anything,” Leary says. “Man, I’m the luckiest guy in television right now to have this girl working for me. … I wish I had her wisdom and ability when I was 21 years old.” We put Gillies’ wisdom to the test with our famous 5 Questions:
1) What has been your strangest fan encounter?
I was on a kids show for five years, so kids will grab your legs and things … [At this point, Gillies gets interrupted by a starstruck young Victorious fan. Not kidding.]
2) Can you tell us about a time when you were starstruck?
I watched Project Runway a lot as a kid, and I went to The View and they were there. I’ve met almost everyone I’ve wanted to meet, but for some reason, the reality contestants on Project Runway, when I was 12 years old. I couldn’t speak. I also couldn’t speak around Megan Mullally. I literally backed down, because I’m such a big Will & Grace fan.
3) What’s your favorite sports team?
The New York Yankees, because I think I’m supposed to because of my family.
4) What are three things you have to have in your fridge or pantry?
Peanut butter. Dark chocolate. I don’t know. I eat very plainly and terribly.
5) What’s a movie you can watch over and over again?
Mrs. Doubtfire! [Laughs] It’s true, though. I love it. I was going to say Jumanji but that’s not true. I get sick of that every once in a while.
Emmy nominated actor Denis Leary joins HuffPost Live with co-star Liz Gillies to discuss their new show, "Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll," which premieres July 16 on FX.
Public Appearances > Appearances 2015 > AOL BUILD Speaker Series
Tonight was the series premiere for Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll in New York City and of course the whole cast attended the event. You can already find about 30 pictures from the premiere in our gallery, but expect more to be added later on!
Public Appearances > Appearances 2015 > Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll Premiere in NYC
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!
Photoshoots > Esquire
This year, RantHollywood writer Brenna Smith got the chance to sit down and talk with Denis Leary about his upcoming FX series 'Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll'; at San Diego Comic-Con. Check out what he had to say about his character, the Sex Pistols and some of the special guests that will appear on the show.
The last time Elizabeth Gillies was on screen, she played the prickly Jade on Nickelodeon’s Victorious but on July 16, but she’ll return to television on the new FX show Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll. The show stars Denis Leary as a washed up, aging rocker taking one more stab at success while trying to reunite with his estranged daughter (Gillies) who is also pursuing a music career. As for Gilllies herself, she’s no stranger to success. She starred in her first commercial at age 12 and debuted on Broadway at age 15 in the musical 13, along with Ariana Grande. Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll also gives Gillies a chance to showcase her considerable vocal chops in case you haven’t seen her covers on her YouTube channel. She recently spoke to Yahoo Beauty about her new role and all things beauty related.
Yahoo Beauty: It must have been a huge leap going from a Nickelodeon show to Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll.
Elizabeth Gillies: It was! There is a lot more f-bombing on this set.
You’re also singing on Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll…
It’s amazing. I never thought I’d find a show that combines all of my passions. We also got to sing live which was incredible and really challenging, and there was a lot of improvisation.
What was it like to work with Denis Leary?
It was wonderful. He’s very funny and our banter was great. He’s such a ball buster and our minds work in a similar way. Coming to work felt like hanging out with family.
Your character, Gigi, has very cool style, any similarities her style and your own?
Gigi’s style evolves during the show and she develops a bad-ass rocker style. I love her clothes and started to dress like her, with crop tops and sexy rocker jewelry.
How would you describe your personal beauty style?
I never leave the house without a winged eye. I’ve been doing that forever. I love makeup and trying new products. It’s fun to make yourself look more enhanced. I usually do a winged eye, a little lip liner and eye liner.
What are some of your favorite products?
I love Laura Mercier foundation as well as foundations from Bobbi Brown and Armani. There’s a mud mask from Eve Lom that I love, the Rescue Mud Mask.
What makeup tips have you learned from the pros?
Less is more. When you’re sitting across from someone, you want to see them, and not their makeup. You want to let your skin shine through and don’t try to hide things like freckles if you have them. I actually do my own makeup a lot.
Would you do your own makeup even for a red carpet event? Talk me through your routine.
Absolutely. I do my own makeup because I know exactly what I want and how to do it so why torture someone else with the whole process? When I’m doing makeup for the red carpet, I just wear more makeup. I don’t do a whole routine of pampering myself. I’m all about getting it done. I’ll do a smoky eye and contouring.
Have you had any epic makeup fails?
Yeah, like when you go to a big event and you hug a guy and your face ends up on his beautiful, expensive suit. I hate it when that happens. When it does, I just slowly walk away…