Before Paris Hilton adopted a breathy baby voice and stocked her closet with head-to-toe pink ensembles, before Kim Kardashian was dubbed “famous for being famous,” and before anyone with an iPhone could become a celebrity through a little bit of shameless self-promotion, there was Angelyne.
A Los Angeles icon, Angelyne was a mysterious model in the 1980s who began popping up on striking billboards advertising nothing except, well, Angelyne. She became a legend and a local celebrity, cruising around the city in her hot pink Corvette. Now, she’s getting the miniseries treatment.
In the first trailer for Angelyne, released on Tuesday, Emmy Rossum dons a sky-high, Dolly-Parton-esque wig to play the blonde bombshell. Her ample prosthetic decolletage spills out of a low-cut latex dress. It’s a hair and makeup transformation reminiscent of Lily James’ unrecognizable turn as Pamela Anderson in Hulu’s Pam & Tommy.
“Since I was a girl, I’ve known that fame is my destiny,” Rossum purrs in the preview for the mockumentary-style series. The three-minute clip touts Angelyne as the originator of the kind of self-made stardom that’s so common on social media today, but decades before smartphones were invented.
The real Angelyne’s true identity was a closely guarded secret for much of the billboard queen’s career, until a 2017 article in The Hollywood Reporter revealed her to be Renee Goldberg, an LA-raised Polish immigrant and daughter of Holocaust survivors. The deep dive article is the inspiration for the series from showrunner Allison Miller.
However, according to Miller, Angelyne will not be your average biopic. “Angelyne is an homage to the real Angelyne who became a cultural icon in Los Angeles. This isn’t the true story of Angelyne. It’s not a straightforward biopic,” Miller said. “It’s a story inspired by everything Angelyne represents and so it’s a magical story, a hopeful story, a story about becoming the person you were meant to be and believing in your own inner strength to manifest your dreams. It’s a story about Los Angeles and everything the city means to people who move here and to people who dream about moving here.”
As for Rossum herself, here’s how she recently described the Angelyne aesthetic: “She’s as if Marilyn Monroe got into an easy bake oven with an ’80s punk Barbie Doll, and a dose of new age spirituality.”
Angelyne herself is an executive producer on the project, along with The End of the F***ing World’s Lucy Tcherniak. Tchneriak is directing all episodes.
In addition to Rossum, the Angelyne cast includes Alex Karpovsky, Martin Freeman, Lukas Gage, Michael Angarano, Hamish Linklater, Molly Ephraim, Philip Ettinger, Charlie Rowe, and David Krumholz.
The series premieres on Peacock on May 19.