Courteney Cox's new avatar couldn't be more different from the girl-next-door image of Monica Gellar that shot her to fame during the decade-long run of Friends. But for Cox and her Dirt character Lucy Spiller, this can only mean good news. The edgy drama sees Cox as the unrelenting editor-in-chief of the tabloid magazine Dirt Now – a Hollywood rag that could even put the National Enquirer to shame – making it absolutely imperative for the actor to shed her Hollywood sweetheart image. Emirates Business caught up with Cox, as Dirt enters its second season on Showseries, to dig up the scoop on her on-screen and off-screen scandals.
—How would you describe the show?
—It's dark, salacious and sexy. I haven't seen a TV character so forthright for a long time.
—Why would you want to do a show about tabloids and the paparazzi?
—When I was pregnant, I was harassed by the paparazzi because they are completely obsessed with babies. I got into major fight-or-flight mode. My hormones were raging and I did stupid things. They were chasing me from the front, the back, the side, and I tried to outrun them. It was terrible.
—What's the dumbest thing the tabloids ever printed about you?
—Back in the day, when they said I was anorexic. I couldn't be further from anorexic. I love food way too much.
—Does Dirt closely resemble what you and your friends have to experience from the press?
—Absolutely. We think we're coming up with these outrageous stories that could never happen and then a few weeks later something just like it has happened so you really can't go too far in a show like this because what is going on in the world is insane.
—Can people learn from this and realise what its like for someone like you under these crazy conditions of the paparazzi?
—The show is about the nutty part of it. We focus more on celebrities who enjoy the press and do things to warrant that frenzy and then how they feed each other so it makes for good TV. We're not looking at celebrities who don't want attention. Nor are we attacking tabloids or the paparazzi; it's poking fun at the whole situation.
—Jennifer Aniston guest-starred in the series; what was it like being reunited?
—It was fun. Jennifer loves Dirt and played a great character. But I don't see the Friends appearing. We support each other, but we don't appear in each other's things as it becomes about that and not the show.
—Will Jen's run-ins with the tabloids – and those of your other famous friends – become script fodder?
—Well, one friend of mine was on her honeymoon, and a photographer literally dug himself into a hole – I called it a grave – and covered himself and took pictures. We used that in the opening shots.
—Will there be any more cameo roles for the Friends cast after Jennifer Aniston in season one?
—I don't know what is going to happen but we did have Rosanna Arquette, my sister-in-law, which was fun.
—Your husband, David Arquette, has his own series, In Case of Emergency. How do you make time to see each other?
—Right now it is hard. We are working long hours; and when he gets done he wants to go to a Lakers game. I don't blame him. So right now it is difficult being able to connect. But we work together really well, and we are doing great considering the circumstances.
—Does your daughter Coco visit the set?
—Every day. And she holds court. She loves to sit in the makeup chair and put on lipstick and makeup. Then she goes right to the set. She doesn't even wait for me – she just starts talking to everybody. It's going to be hard to keep her out of the entertainment business.
—So here's what everyone wants to know: what about a Friends reunion?
—It would be fun, but the chances of getting everybody together are so slim. So, do I think it will happen? Absolutely not.
—Was it a big adjustment going from a sitcom to a gritty hour-long show?
—Yes, the hours are so different. We are constantly under the gun as we shoot each episode in seven days. There is a lot of pressure but it's good pressure and it's exciting. The biggest difference I think is that however you are feeling that day, you can work it into your character. But on a sitcom you have to come in with a smile on your face.
—Was that part of the appeal of taking this role to break away from Monica?
—I definitely wanted to do something different but this was a show that appealed to me; it was a show that our production company came up with and we pitched it to the studio and they made it more about a tabloid and asked for a female lead. And this is even before I even thought I was going to be on the show. Then once we hired a writer, I thought this is a really interesting character; something I would like to be a part of.
—Were you apprehensive at all after playing Monica for so many years?
—No, not at all. It was a nice change and Lucy is so hard and strong.
—Originally you were going to produce it, so who did you have in mind to be in the show?
—It was going to be a Hollywood actor played by Josh Stewart and the paparazzi played by Ian Hart. But the studio turned it into a show about the tabloid world.
—What can we see in season two?
—In season two Lucy has a change of heart. She goes through a lot of traumatic stuff at the end of season one and survives. She has more fun and she just has to tell the truth and get it out there and this time she goes for it – she's more courageous.
—Any regrets from season one?
—I don't regret anything about the show. But it's a learning curve and I do think we've learnt about when the show works and what are the most interesting aspects of it, like the scenes between my character Lucy and Don, who is a schizophrenic paparazzi. So, you learn what you need more of and season two just gets better as Friends did.