Smash Troublemaker Looks Ahead to Season 2: 'Ellis Is Probably Going to Be Even More Hated!'

You read that headline correctly. Though Smash‘s Ellis has let his ambition lead him to lurk behind many a doorway and snitch when given most any opportunity, his shiftiest shenanigans are yet to come.

During a visit to TVLine’s Times Square offices — straight upstairs from where many a location scene of NBC’s musical drama is filmed – Jaime Cepero shared his take on the not-so-warm welcome Ellis received, cleared the air on the schemer’s sexuality and revealed why it’s rather unlikely his character will meet a grisly demise (contrary to the haters’ wishes).

TVLINE | When I first met you on a flight to TCA in January, before Smash even premiered, we spoke about how Ellis maybe might one day cause a stir about giving Tom and Julia the Marilyn idea. Did you have any idea back then that he would instead cause other kinds of commotion?
I had no idea! It’s a very new world. I knew he was going to turn into a kind of a slimy villain, so I was looking forward to seeing how everybody reacted. But I didn’t know that people would get this into it.

TVLINE | Has it been a sort of relief to see Julia’s son also draw some fire? You must be like, “More Leo scenes! More Leo scenes!”
It’s fun. It makes me laugh when people come up to me and say how much they hate me. “Thanks so much?”

TVLINE | Did Megan Hilty (who plays Ivy), [showrunner] Theresa Rebeck or any of Smash‘s other Broadway vets ever take you aside to assure you, “Yes, there are opportunistic gofers like this in the business”?
Theresa and I have spoken about the character a couple of times – and she’s given me some homework assignments. Like, she had me watch All About Eve and read What Makes Sammy Run?, this old ’40s book about a young kid who’s a paper pusher and then somehow manages to use his sharp tongue to turn into a big Hollywood producer. I’ve also known people like Ellis in real life, so there’s been some character study.

Spoiler Alert! Episode 12: Jaime Cepero and Ana Gasteyer Pre-Enact a Scene from Once Upon a Time

TVLINE | Ellis had that one particular bold moment where he tried to parlay his success in bringing Rebecca Duvall (Uma Thurman) on board into a co-producer credit.
Yeah, he brought her in, so he feels he deserves credit. It’s not that he’s evil; he is just really invested in the product. He kind of considers it his show, so he wants it to do well.

TVLINE | Has he done anything that when you first read it in the script it floored you?
That [aforementioned] scene with Anjelica [Huston] — I was like, “This is the most cajones-y thing he’s done thus far.”

TVLINE | What about his wooing of Rebecca’s manager – did they give you a heads-up that Ellis had a “wide variety of interests”?
I knew there was going to be something happening along those lines, but I didn’t know how it would come about. “I was like, “Oh, OK. Here we go! Let’s shoot it.” But that just showed insight into the character and his mind. I know a lot of people are like, “Ellis is gay now?” It wasn’t a romantic dinner; it was very specific and calculated. It’s not about, “He’s confuuused.” He knows what he’s doing.

Smash Episode 11 Recap: Hey Now, You’re a Stage Star

TVLINE | Have we already seen the best of Ellis and Eileen’s working relationship? He just caught her snooping at his desk….
They’re still a team, but by Episode 15 [aka the season finale] there’s definitely going to be a little tension between the two of us. There’s quite possibly going to be a bit of a triangle thing between me, her and Nick (played by One Life to Live alum Thorsten Kaye). [Cepero proceeds to demonstrate a scarily spot-on impression of Kaye's bassy brogue.]

TVLINE | With a new showrunner coming on for Season 2, do you worry that he or she might try to make their mark by appeasing viewers and killing Ellis off, violently?
I think every show needs a villain, because without conflict there’s nothing to watch on a one-hour drama. Nothing’s set in stone, but I’ve gotten a pretty generous rundown of what’s happening with my character in Season 2, and you can definitely look out for him a lot, doing some more [sneaky things]. I’m probably going to be even more hated. [Laughs]

TVLINE | So, no stepping in front of a cab in the opening moments of Season 2?
No, he’s a little too smart to be hit by a cab.

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51 Comments
  1. Jane says:

    I can’t believe they aren’t getting rid of him. Thanks for the hilarious interview. I still have hope that he and Julia’s son end up in a giant vat of flesh eating acid.

    • J. Norman says:

      The character of Ellis is primarily the reason I stopped watching this show after the 4th epiosode. . . .not the entire reason, but the main reason .

      But hey, If some like him, go for it. Make him even a bigger (insert word). It won’t matter to me.
      I’ve already left the building (stage?).

      • Franklin says:

        If you have, then why read any articles on the show and why oh why on earth punish us with your presence here?

    • diane says:

      And Dev.

  2. Colleen says:

    I think Jamie has missed the fine line between characters we love to hate and characters we hate and change the channel – and Ellis is the later.

    • Dan Kempner says:

      Exactly! Villains should be fun to watch, which makes the conflict that much more intriguing. With him, I just wait for someone to yell at him or, hopefully, fire him.

    • jenna says:

      agreed! We don’t love to hate him we just hate him!! I think the main thing is that it looks like everything just falls into his lap instead of him working for it, he’s eavesdropping behind every corner and somehow manages to get every scoop

      • Jenny says:

        I so agree. I hate that he is ALWAYS around the corner or gets every scoop to fall into his lap. A good villain actually has to do some work or plan. Things don’t always go exactly their way. Also there is always this part with a villain even though you cheer against them there is this slight nervousness that they might be successful. Definitely not the case with Ellis.

    • Mena says:

      I agree. Writers/producers on a lot of shows don’t seem to understand the difference between “love to hate” and “just plan hate.” Ellis isn’t enjoyable to watch; he’s annoying, horrid, and unnecessary. There seems to be a serious disconnect between what the writers are trying to portray and what’s actually being portrayed to the audience. The actor seems like a nice guy, but Ellis needs to be seriously retooled for season two. Now that the show has gotten lots of audience feedback, I hope the show fixes its problems instead of just making empty promises to the audience.

    • Yes! I totally agree. Well said!

  3. Darth Pablo says:

    I just want to punch Ellis right in the face.

  4. Julia says:

    I don’t mind Ellis so much since he got his comeuppance a bit last week :-)

    • Monte Cristo says:

      Agree. I can take his shenanigans if he gets what’s coming to him every once in a while. He’s just so arrogant. He had no respect at all for Julia (in that we’re alike) so her threats and bad treatment didn’t put a dent in him, but he showed no fear of Eileen after she so awesomely b*tch-slapped him for digging up dirt on Nick and later explained to him the fine points of a producer’s job when he tried to bargain for co-producer credit and his response to Uma’s watery manager calling him on his deceit was definitely less-than. He needs to really be put in his place and I hope Eileen’s the one to do it….sooner than later!

  5. R says:

    I agree with @Colleen. While many shows’ villains can be fun to watch, Ellis is simply irritating. I pretend his scenes don’t exist, and I pretend Julia does not have a son, and then I enjoy the show a lot more.

    • Michael says:

      I totally agree. I love to watch a “good” villain. A good villain can draw you into the show …and since they compell us to love to hate them, they often steal the show. Ellis, on the other hand, is irritating, aggravating and just plain annoying. I don’t think he adds anything at all to the show. In fact, he brings the entire production done. If I were to sop watching “Smash”, chances are it was Ellis who drove me to that. Can’t stand him, his character or his “acting”. Annyoing as all hell.

  6. KCatty says:

    @Colleen exactly. I’ve been on the fence about Smash, and the Ellis character has had me reading recaps first to determine whether his presence would make the show unwatchable. Headed to the Tivo now to delete my season pass.

  7. dan says:

    I don’t think it’s possible for me to hate Ellis more than I do now.

  8. Mary Beth says:

    Ellis isn’t even a proper villain. He is just an annoyance that detracts from the show.

  9. nyla says:

    No one loves to hate Ellis. It’s just hate. It bums me out that he’s going to be around next season.

  10. Manny says:

    Yeah Jaime is definitely confused as to what makes a good villain. Of course every show needs one, but Ellis is not even a good one. We don’t love to hate him, we just hate him. He makes the show unwatchable, and between him and Leo, I really doubt I will be back for Season 2. I really don’t understand the point of these characters at all.

    • diane says:

      I aslo find dev unwatchable even more so. His love scenes with Karen are so cringe-worthy that I feel like calling 911 to save Karen from him.

  11. Temis says:

    Ellis needs to be a more villanous villain. He just comes off as pathetic, and that’s no fun. Also, the actor is either gay and doesn’t know how to play straight, or he’s playing Ellis as gay for whatever reasons of his own. I don’t buy him as having a girlfriend at all. Every time he’s on screen, my gaydar goes to Defcon One.

    • jenna says:

      agreed with the gaydar! I’m really curious if it just that the actor can’t play a straight man or if they are trying to put ellis on as a gay man who hasn’t come to terms with it yet

    • Mels says:

      Definitely agree about your observations about Ellis and being gay. The girlfriend scenes seem very uncomfortable for Ellis or Jaime.

      Oh and bah to more Ellis screen time next season! I can’t stand the character. So annoying!!

  12. Jenny says:

    I seriously cannot imagine how I could hate the character of Ellis more than I already do. Honestly after reading stuff like we are going to hate him more next season, just makes me want to take this show off my DVR. I have been pretty close to doing that anyway, but this might be the final nail.

  13. Ola says:

    I definitely hate Ellis I find him extremely annoying. He is always snooping around n being nosey n slimy. I don’t exactly want him if off the show because I feel there is something we can do with him to turn things around like he can get blackmailed or be on a cliff n need help from someone (not literally) or even team up with someone Cuz he is an increasing character n to tell u the truth there always is someone like him in !!!SHOWBIZ!!!!

  14. Ola says:

    I definitely hate Ellis I find him extremely annoying. He is always snooping around n being nosey n slimy. I don’t exactly want him if off the show because I feel there is something we can do with him to turn things around like he can get blackmailed or be on a cliff n need help from someone (not literally) or even team up with someone Cuz he is an increasing character n to tell u the truth there always is someone like him in !!!SHOWBIZ!!!! :-P

  15. Dani says:

    I think everyone just said all there is to say about Ellis and the guy who plays him, i was beginning to think i was just imaging all the thoughts i had about him. I’m glad everyone agrees that he sucks! As long as Ellis doesn’t break out snd start singing too, i’ll try to keep watching and hope for more.

  16. Lorie says:

    Ellis is a huge reason why I removed Smash from my DVR. I simply COULD.NOT.STAND him!!

  17. dan says:

    If they refuse to kill him off in an extended episode devoted to his tragic, painful death, culminating in Ivy and Karen singing, “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead,” then the producers need to work on his character. Give us something to like about him, such as showing us more why he loves the theatre so much. Or maybe give him a foil, a second assistant for Eileen who is determined to bring him down. And if they’re going to give him his comeuppance, don’t make it something so ridiculous, like him failing to realize he hasn’t switch calls, and referring to the agent as a loser. If Ellis is so conniving and able to dig up dirt on people, he would be more savvy than that. I did enjoy when Eileen knocked him down about wanting producer credit, though. That was a perfect example of how it will take more than being smarmy for him to get what he wants.

  18. JJ says:

    Jaime doesn’t get it. It’s not ‘Ellis’. It’s a poorly conceived character and poorly cast actor.

    I honestly think if it were a female character and actor it would’ve worked much better.

    ‘Smash’ has so much potential but there are intrinsic flaws that need to be fixed with Ellis being a major one of them.

  19. Thereasonsy says:

    This is a travesty of epic proportions. I am not usually one that screams for an actor to be released from a contract but enough is enough. This character is bringing the series down and is taking focus away from what could be a great series. Cut him. Cut the awful son. Cut the crap and get back to getting this series back on track so it won’t be just a 13 episode second season.

  20. rubytu says:

    ok after all that, I risk being burned at the stake I think – I like Ellis! He’s very amusing, the little imp. Very impish, and moves the plot along nicely! He’s got a presence. I am so far from hating him, I feel like I’ve missed something. (But, really, I don’t think I have).
    He’s got a lot on the ball; he’s sharp. But, I guess it’s nice that so many people hate him; he must be doing something right. He’s really brought out a strong passion in people.

  21. Carla says:

    I lost any last bit of respect I still had for Ellis when he was going off about Tom and Ivy in “The Coup”- about how they’re losers because they’re artists and will never get anywhere. Without these people, he wouldn’t have anything to produce, and these two are working hard to make their dreams come true. Ugh, I hope we’re just being mislead with the cab denial (to clarify, I’m sure Jaime is a lovely person, so I don’t want HIM to be run over, but his character really has to die, and fast).

  22. All this distaste for Ellis is going to drive viewers away; he takes up too much of the space on the show when he’s around; producers get rid of him.

  23. tj says:

    You guys are NUTS. The character is interesting.

  24. beekeeper's daughter says:

    i so hate this character that I have given up watching the show, at first when he was onscreen I changed the channel briefly, now I just shut the program off. The producers don’t understand loving to hate and just plain hating…

  25. dee says:

    A good villain schemes and connives. Ellis does neither. He’s an opportunist, who just takes advantage of information that falls in his lap. Oh, look, Julia forgot her notebook! I’ll take it home! Oh, what’s Eileen saying? I’ll listen at the door! He sucks.

  26. niks says:

    This exactly is the reason why Smash didn’t work for me and I had to stop watching it despite having great expectations. Ellis is not hated because he is a villain, he is hated because the character is idiotic and full of cliches. He is hated because his character is badly written and badly acted. A show which doesn’t understand this not so thin difference is never going to work.

  27. daviduter says:

    Still time to change your mind Smash. I might tune in again if this character/actor is gone. Julia’s affair was a distant 1b to Ellis 1a. Absolutely horrible TV.

  28. Rolfe says:

    Don’t the producers of the show understand Ellis is not a character the viewers loves to hate? I have no problem with a villain that the audience loves to hate, but Ellis is someone I loathe to hate. So much in fact I believe I would avoid any future film or television that has this actor attached to it.

    Smash has gotten bloody awful as of lately, but I decided to stick with it to see if they can find their voice. By keeping Ellis it makes me want to cut Smash’s vocal cords.

  29. Joe says:

    No offense to the actor, but from a writing perspective he really adds nothing to the show. It’s just annoyance. Good writing doesn’t need a tertiary character like this to “amp up the drama”. They really missed the boat on Smash. It could have been The West Wing of Broadway Musicals, but instead it’s a tarted up soap with a few songs. Every single time they cut to Dev, Ellis or Leo, the show loses me and makes me want to fast forward through their bits. Ellis isn’t the villain on Smash; He’s the writer’s crutch to come up with uncreative ways to make things happen. It’s sad because I was excited by the show in theory and now it’s just bad TV like ABC’s remake of V where each week we rooted for Elizabeth Mitchell’s character’s son to die a violent death. At least they gave us that before it got cancelled.

  30. CGinCA says:

    I fully admit to disliking Ellis a lot. The character is overall a neither here nor there type character. Yet to me it is a lot of the storyline for him that is wrong. Think about it he is a ‘newbie’ to the business from early storyline info, he works for Tom who is a song writer that has songs on Broadway, but that isn’t truly Tom’s main focus, which is truly the music. Now he is manipulating things and pulling the wool over the eyes of people who have been in the business for years, putting on shows, creating shows, directing shows, on and on. And not one of them is truly aware of his actions, they are all unaware of what he is doing? That is where the mistake in the whole Ellis storyline

  31. Kate says:

    Agreed that Ellis is a poorly written character. He lurks in corners where it makes no sense for him to be. His alliances are random and all over the place. There is no way in the real world he would ever have kept his job after posting a video online or telling Julia that she doesn’t have the power to get him fired, or any number of things. It’s insulting to us a viewers to have to belive anything he does is within the realm of reality. This is drama, not fantasy.

  32. Marion Slaton says:

    I like the character of Ellis. I find him interesting to watch. He’s a lot smarter than he’s getting credit for. I do love his face. Last week I really looked at him. He’s a nice little snack!

  33. Annoyed mouse says:

    Not good when the line between good and bad/evil characters are too clearly defined. Not enough insight into what makes Ellis do what he does. Ivy is too conniving and Karen is too innocent.