Courteney Cox knows a thing or two about sitcoms.
She shot to fame as Monica Geller on the iconic Friends and starred for six seasons on Cougar Town.
It’s no surprise she gets pitched a lot of half-hour comedies. However, it’s rare she finds anything that appealing.
“Usually they’re not challenging enough, or I find sitcoms just not that funny anymore,” she tells me on this week’s episode of the Just for Variety podcast.
But then came Shining Vale. It’s not exactly a sitcom, but a horror-comedy series on Starz. She stars as Pat, a novelist with writer’s block who relocates with the family from New York City to Connecticut after her husband Terry (Greg Kinnear) learns she’s having an affair. Pat, who is also a recovering alcoholic, believes their new home is haunted because she begins to see ghosts, including one played by Mira Sorvino. Shining Vale was co-created by Friends writer Jeff Astrof.
“I’m pretty sure this character was written for someone in their 40s … but then they changed it to a woman in their 50s, which is great because that’s when your midlife crisis really happens,” Cox says.
“That’s when menopause, the whole thing, that’s when they keep blaming it on ‘Oh, it’s hormones,’ but it’s a lot more than that, and you know, that’s what I am.”
Cox’s new series comes on the heels of the Emmy-nominated Friends reunion television special and Paramount’s box office hit reboot of the Scream franchise. Cox, who returned as Gale Weathers in the Ghostface juggernaut, still can’t believe the new film included the death of Dewey, played by Cox’s ex-husband David Arquette.
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“It was sad because Dewey is such a beloved character and he’s so goofy,” she says. “I thought he brought such a comedic twist to the whole franchise. I think that was a downer.”
She unsuccessfully tried to convince the writer-directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett to keep Dewey alive.
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“I remember being on the lawn going, ‘I just think it’s a big mistake not to have the option. I understand why you want, it makes it really serious,'” Cox recalls. “‘Then wouldn’t it be great just the last three minutes, you text from the hospital or something…’ I wanted that to happen. It feels strange.”
Cox was recently in New York City for the launch of her new home goods line Homecourt. “I left the hotel and there’s paparazzi and I was signing all these pictures of old things I’ve done. How much could they get for those things? I mean, a picture of me in Masters of the Universe? It’s got to be worth about $10. But nevertheless, I thought, ‘Oh, wow. How did I get popular again?'”
She admits there was a time Hollywood no longer seemed interested.
“I would say the years after Cougar Town, trying to find the right thing and I didn’t feel very relevant at the time,” Cox says.
“I was focusing on something else. I was focusing on my relationship and didn’t focus as much on business side of things. And I think … out of sight, out of mind. And yeah, I think a lot of it was my fault, but I think also once I wasn’t driven, I think they probably forgot about me for a while.”
I’ll admit I thought Cox wouldn’t be so open and vulnerable during our interview. After years of being in the spotlight, celebs of Cox’s level could become so guarded and mistrusting of the press that they hardly ever offer any insight, especially about their emotional and private lives.
I joke with Cox that I felt like our Zoom time together feels like a therapy session. “I was just talking to my partner about thinking about Coco [Cox and Arquette’s 17-year-old daughter] and some of the things that she’s dealing with and it, and I relate to it,” she says, adding, “And it’s not until I got into my fifties [Cox is 57] that I connected with the right therapist that actually made me see things in a different way. And I thought, God, I wish for Coco, she doesn’t have to wait until my age to really understand [things]… So much changes and it takes a long time to go, ‘Ding, I get it.'”
Before our talk, Cox’s office sends me products from her Homecourt collection, including surface cleaner, hand wash and dish soap. They’re packaged in sleek minimalist black bottles and the scents are clean and natural.
“I always layer perfumes and oils, and I think I’m great at that. I’m sorry to say, but … I think I put together really great scents,” she says.
“And even on the Friends Reunion, if you watch the very first time I walk in, someone hugs me right away and goes, ‘Oh, you smell really good.’ So I’ve been confirmed by the Friends cast. I’m also really clean. I think [for] Monica, that’s not that farfetched for me.”
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