For some women, spending time with your ex-husband, let alone working with them, is the very definition of the phrase “living nightmare”. For actress Courteney Cox, however, it was a dream come true to share her directorial debut with not only her ex-husband David Arquette but also their daughter Coco (10) and her current fiancé Johnny McDaid!
The 50-year-old, who celebrates her 51st birthday on June 15, has stepped behind the camera to direct Just Before I Go, a comedy-drama centred on a 30-something man who returns to his home town to make amends.
Casting her ex David (43) in a supporting role was a no-brainer for the former Friends star, who calls him “a great actor and he’s fun” – in fact, it was her daughter who was the diva on-set!
“Coco is a little hot-head!” laughs Courteney. “She doesn’t take direction because she thinks she knows what to do. I just had to say ‘All right!’”
While bringing her personal life into a professional space could have been a disaster, there was no awkwardness between Courteney and David because, she says, they still love each other – despite splitting up in 2010. David has since married Entertainment Tonight presenter Christina McLarty, and they have a one-year-old son, Charlie.
“It’s great to direct somebody you know so well because you get to change things. I knew I could steer him in a different direction. Also, I could boss him around!” Courteney tells. “[But] David is one of my closest friends... We actually love each other. We are all in this modern family. I’m in a relationship, everyone is comfortable and it’s just kind of great and weird.”
Speaking of her current beau Johnny – who is in Irish band Snow Patrol – was also part of the project, contributing new material to the film’s soundtrack. “He is just so smart in every way,” Courteney says. “It’s been amazing and I have been really lucky.”
Of course, with any first-time project there are always challenges and working on a limited budget and timeframe was Courteney’s. But as soon as she had her cast, including American Pie’s Seann William Scott in the lead, everything fell into place.
“There are new challenges every day in making a movie. What makes things exciting in life is to overcome your challenges and get creative.”
An actress, producer and now director, Courteney knows her way around Hollywood, and although these roles keep her busy – particularly when it comes to spending time with Coco – she says she prefers juggling many tasks at one time.
“Give me one thing to do for the day and I can’t get it done. You give me 48 and I can do them all! Being a mother, I still feel guilty about working sometimes and I want to be with Coco all of the time, but she comes into work with me often.”
Although the film received mixed reviews since its premiere screening at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, Courteney is trying her best not to let negative comments bother her. “I don’t look at stuff on the internet in case I read something about myself and it makes me sad. Then I would have to go and find 40 good things to outweigh the bad one. I can’t do it.”
But it’s a far cry from how she might have reacted during her Friends days when, she says, she was a “comparative person”.
“I don’t want to be that... to compare any more. There’s a lot of stuff that can mess with your ego, being on a show with six people in an ensemble like that... It’s hard. It was a lot of learning for me. I wish I hadn’t ever spent time comparing.”
Speaking of reliving the past, is there any chance of a Friends reunion in the future?
“No, sorry,” Courteney tells. “I’m always asked and I always have the same answer. It’s something that might be fun but we would all have to want to be able to do it.”
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