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Shalom Auslander Series Recasts Philip Seymour Hoffman Role

Steve Coogan will play the protagonist in Showtime’s ‘Happyish’

Stephanie Butnick
October 23, 2014
Steve Coogan on November 13, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (John Sciulli/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)
Steve Coogan on November 13, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (John Sciulli/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)

Happyish, the forthcoming Showtime comedy created, written, and executive produced by novelist Shalom Auslander, has found a new male lead. The series’ future had been up in the air since February, when Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was cast as the Auslander-esque protagonist Thom Payne, died of a heroin overdose (“This planet is no damned place to have a heart, and Phil had the biggest, brokenest heart of anyone I have ever met,” Auslander said at the time.). The series pilot had been filmed before Hoffman’s death.

English actor Steve Coogan has been selected to play Thom in the series, which The Hollywood Reporter describes as “a dark examination of the pursuit of happiness.” An early subplot features the 42-year-old character, who has a new boss half his age, worrying whether his Viagra will interfere with his antidepressants. Again, sounds very Auslander. (Writing in 2011 about his frosty relationship with his testicles—”by far the ugliest and most ungainly of all body parts—the Tablet contributor described having recently turned 41 thusly: “the race of my life half-run, less no doubt ahead of me than behind, one foot in the grave and the other on a slippery patch of ice.”

Coogan, whom I will never again refer to as “oh yeah, that British guy from that thing,” was twice-nominated for an Academy Award and may be best known to American audiences from the films Philomena andTropic Thunder. He’s also a writer and producer. “Steve’s range is astounding — he is a comedy legend, a gifted satirist, and he possesses the unique combination of talents this role demands,” Auslander said in a statement.

Production on what sounds like a delightfully subversive new show will reportedly begin in December. Set your DVRs, people.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.