Courteney Cox and Faith Hill on Grueling ‘1883’ Workout and Being Too Scared to Watch ‘Scream’

Faith Hill and Courteney Cox are both from the South, and when they sit down to talk, for Variety Series “Actors on Actors” presented by Apple TV +, they begin to discuss with ease. They discuss Nashville and whether Hill ever forgets the lyrics to his songs on stage. (“Sometimes, yes, I do,” Hill says.) They delve into their recent TV work, with Cox asking Hill about her starring role in Taylor Sheridan’s “1883” — opposite her husband, Tim McGraw — and Hill responding with questions about Cox’s “Shining Vale,” a truly chilling comedy horror. They also cover the “Friends” reunion, amusement park rides, and armpit hair.

COURTENEY COX: Did you have to practice to ride a horse like that? Because you’re really good at it.

THE HILL OF FAITH: Oh thank you. I am involved in horsemanship. Not as good as Tim. After our second child, Maggie, I was on my horse, Bandit, and I was not an avid rider. But Bandit went with me to the farm one day to the barn, which you should never let your horse run to the barn.

COxswain: But did you have a choice?

HILL: I had no choice. He ran so fast – it was probably over a mile. And I couldn’t stop it. And that freaked me out. After having kids, it feels like it’s so irresponsible of me. So that scared me a little for a while, and I stayed away from the horses for a minute. But I ride casually.

COxswain: It’s like me on a roller coaster. I love roller coasters so much, and then as they check the bar, and you check the belt, I’m like, “Wait a minute. I have a child. What am I doing? Why do I need to go backwards now? »

HILL: Have you ever done – what we call it – the Tower of Terror, where you just fell in freefall?

COxswain: I did it once, and I thought it was the worst thing I’ve ever done. And then someone persuaded me to do it another time, months and months later, and I like it now. But you said, “I shouldn’t have let that happen. What would you have done with the horse?

HILL: I should never have allowed him to trot. I learned so much during the “cowboy camp” process, as Taylor called it, and thank God for that.

COxswain: How long was the cowboy camp?

HILL: Tim and I stayed there for about two weeks.

COxswain: Where was he?

Alexi Lubomirski for Variety

HILL: It was in Texas. It was at Taylor’s farm. I learned to drive a cart, which, by the way, is so difficult.

COxswain: I mean, you’re amazing in it. You’re a performer, and you’re this amazing singer that’s adored, and you have to get on stage and feel so comfortable. Is it weird to act?

HILL: I love performing, and that comes naturally to me three songs. I stand close to my band most of the time and constantly have to remind myself, “Oh, yeah, the audience is over there!” However, having the opportunity to play a character other than me was nice. It was really rewarding. And being able to do that with Tim was remarkable. And we’ve been married for 24 years. We did everything together. It was the first thing we had ever done together.

COxswain: Have you ever played together? He’s really good at it too.

HILL: He is so good. Thanks, by the way. I will tell him. He’ll love you saying that. Margaret was my character; James was the character of Tim. The first time we talked was when the camera started rolling and they said “Action”. We never practiced our lines together.

COxswain: I’ve heard that to be authentic, people have to let their hair grow under their arms.

HILL: Yeah, honey, let me tell you something. I can call you honey, because you just…

COxswain: Sure. I’m from Alabama, and we do it there.

HILL: Where’s the sweet tea? No, it was really hard, and Taylor called my husband. We were at a wedding, our nephew’s wedding, and he said, “Who’s going to tell your wife she has to stop shaving her armpits?” And I think that can wait? He says, “No, stop tonight.”

COxswain: I lasered, so I couldn’t do it.

HILL: It really pissed me off, I must say. All due respect to those who like it, and, and all that freedom, woo! But for me personally —

COxswain: It’s true. I am sorry. Yes, I don’t judge him. I have never done that. And the accents were really – I mean, how do people know what people looked like in “1883”?

HILL: We actually didn’t work with a dialect coach, but some actors did. Taylor wanted us to just be ourselves.

COxswain: Smallpox was rampant there. I looked later, and I wanted to know how you get smallpox. You probably know this, but you get it through face-to-face contact.

HILL: If you are near someone who has had smallpox, yes. Because it was kind of like, wow, if you had smallpox, you were gone. Shot down and killed, or just thrown into the woods or into a river, whatever was closest. It was brutal. Taylor, it was important for him that it be as authentic as possible, that is to say the struggle, the discomfort. And it was uncomfortable. I’m not going to lie. It was probably – it wasn’t even “probably”. It was the hardest thing Tim and I have ever done. What was it like coming back to TV – was it the last time in 2015? Since “Cougar Town”?

COxswain: What did I do during those six years? I had to do something. I was excited to come back, but I had to be very careful because I had done a pilot, and I was like, “Oh, I don’t really like it if it’s not picked up. It’s not funny.” I was very careful and read “Shining Vale” and thought it was the best character I’ve ever played.

HILL: Wow.

COxswain: It was the richest, the most stratified. I love Sharon Horgan – she’s totally my sense of humor and my writing style and everything. And Jeff Astrof, who wrote on “Friends.” And so I knew how funny he was, but I didn’t know how amazing he was. That was all. He combined horror –

HILL: Your comedic timing in this show is insane.

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Alexi Lubomirski for Variety

COxswain: It starts with an idea, the writing. I think we have an amazing cast. The townspeople were just beautifully cast.

HILL: Are you sometimes afraid when you film these shows? Like, is something scaring you?

COxswain: Well, I’m a real scared cat, and everything scares me, so yeah. I have a scene with Mira [Sorvino] in the window – the way it was lit was scary. One of the things is that it’s very easy to jump up and scare me. So Greg [Kinnear] sometimes scared me just on set and then I could recreate it because I’m a pretty fast howler. I’m a quick study for scary.

HILL: It’s hilarious, especially from the movies you’ve done.

COxswain: Yeah. I don’t watch them.

HILL: What?

COxswain: No no. I do not know. “Scream” – I just go like that. [Covers her eyes.] There’s no way. I don’t care if I know what’s going on, who it was behind the mask.

HILL: “Scream’s” scary, though. I am a scary cat. How was the filming of the “Friends” reunion? I mean, did it bring closure to you? Is there such a thing?

COxswain: It was amazing. I’m very close with everyone, but we don’t all see each other and we haven’t all been in the same room since the show.

HILL: Are you serious?

COxswain: Isn’t that crazy? But the girls see each other a lot, and we saw each other separately. But, yes, stepping onto the Warner Bros. stage. was the most moving thing. I just immediately burst into tears, and I mean so many things had happened. So many years spent together. I mean, you name it, we had been through it. So I don’t feel any closure, but I just feel like it was the lucky one. I can’t believe I got this role and got to make these friends and be a part of something that’s going on.

HILL: It doesn’t happen anymore, what you did. And our youngest daughter, Audrey, is obsessed with watching her all the time. Of course, me too.


Courtney Cox: Styling: Maryam Malakpour


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