Eight months after the sudden death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, Showtime has found an actor to replace him in the network’s dark comedy project Happyish. British actor-writer-comedian Steve Coogan (Philomena) is set to topline a new pilot for Happyish, which will be filmed in New York this December.
Happyish‘s original pilot starring Hoffman had just been picked up to series last January when Hoffman passed away. Showtime took time after the shocking news before evaluating the future of the project, on which creator Shalom Auslander and producers Ken Kwapis and Alexandra Beattie had been working for several years. It opted to carry on and sent out feelers to a handful of actors as it was a tall order to try and replace Hoffman. Because of the long time that has passed since the original pilot, the rest of the cast has been released, but I hear Hoffman’s co-star Kathryn Hahn has had discussions to return.
Happyish is described as a comedic, soul-searching examination of our pursuit of happiness. Coogan will play the lead role of Thom Payne — now made a British expat — a 44-year-old man whose world is thrown into disarray when his 25-year-old “wunderkind” boss arrives, saying things like “digital,” “social” and “viral.” Is he in need of a “rebranding,” as his mentor insists, or does he just have a “low joy ceiling,” as his corporate headhunter suggests? Maybe pursuing happiness is a fool’s errand? Maybe, after 44 years on this ludicrous planet, settling for happyish is the best one can expect.
“Steve’s range is astounding – he is a comedy legend, a gifted satirist, and he possesses the unique combination of talents this role demands,” said Auslander.
Auslander created and wrote Happyish. He executive produces with Kwapis, who will direct the pilot. Kwapis’ producing partner Beattie will co-executive produce, under their In Cahoots banner. Coogan next reprises his role as Octavius in the latest Night At The Museum feature.