Courteney Cox and Faith Hill at ‘1883’ Training, Not Watching ‘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 start chatting with ease. They argue about Nashville and whether Hill forgets the lyrics to her songs on stage. (“Sometimes, yes, I do,” Hill says.) They delve into her recent work in television, with Cox asking Hill about her starring role in Taylor Sheridan’s “1883” — alongside her husband, Tim McGraw. — and Hill responding with questions about Cox’s “Shining Vale,” a genuinely terrifying horror-comedy. They also cover the “Friends” reunion, amusement park rides and underarm hair.

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

MOUNT OF FAITH: Thanks. I ride a horse. Not as well as Tim. After our second child, Maggie, I was on my horse, Bandit, and not an avid rider. But Bandit left with me one day at the farm towards the barn, which is something you should never allow your horse to do, run to the barn.

COX: But did you have a choice?

HILL: I had no choice. He took off running so fast – it was probably over a mile. And I couldn’t stop it. And that scared me. After you have kids, that’s so irresponsible of me. So that kind of freaked me out for a while, and I was off the horses for a minute. But I ride casually.

COX: This is like me on a roller coaster. I love roller coasters so much, and when they check the bar, and you check the belt, I’m like, “Wait a minute. I have a son. What am I doing? Why do I need to be upside down now?”

HILL: Have you ever done the – what is it called – the Tower of Terror, where you just free fall?

COX: I did this once, and I thought, this is the worst thing I’ve ever done. And then someone convinced me to do it again, months and months later, and I kind of like it now. But you said, “I shouldn’t have let that happen.” What would you have done about the horse?

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

COX: How long was the cowboy camp?

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

COX: Where were you?

Alexi Lubomirski for Variety

HILL: It was in Texas. It was on Taylor’s farm. I learned to drive a wagon, which, by the way, is very difficult.

COX: I mean, you’re amazing in it. You’re an artist, and you’re this amazing singer that’s loved, and you have to get on stage and feel so comfortable. Is acting weird?

HILL: I love performing, and that comes naturally to me three songs later. I hang around my band most of the time, and I’m constantly having to be reminded, “Oh yeah, the crowd is like that!” However, having the opportunity to play a character other than myself was cool. It was really satisfying. And being able to do that with Tim was remarkable. And we’ve been married for 24 years. We did everything together. That was the first thing we ever did together.

COX: Never acted together? He’s very good at it too.

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

COX: I heard that to be authentic, people had to grow their hair under their arms.

HILL: Yes, honey, let me tell you something. I can call you honey because you’re from…

COX: It is clear. I’m from Alabama, and we do it there.

HILL: Where’s the sweet tea? No, that was very difficult, 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 under her arms?” And I’m thinking can this wait? He says, “No, stop tonight.”

COX: I used laser so I wouldn’t be able to do it.

HILL: It really disgusted me, I have to say. All respect to whoever loves this, and, and all this freedom, woo! But for me personally –

COX: That’s right. I’m very sorry. Yes, I’m not judging. I never did it. And the accents were really – I mean, how do people know what people sounded like in “1883”?

HILL: We don’t actually work with a dialect coach, but some of the actors do. Taylor wanted us to just be ourselves.

COX: Smallpox was spreading there. I looked it up later and wanted to know how to get smallpox. You probably know, but you get it in face-to-face contact.

HILL: If you are around someone who has had smallpox – yes. Because it was like, wow, if you had smallpox, you’re gone. Shot and killed, or simply kicked into the woods or a river, whichever was closer. It was brutal. Taylor, it was important to him that he be as authentic as possible, meaning the struggle, the discomfort. And it was uncomfortable. I will not lie. It probably was–nor was it “probably.” It was the hardest thing Tim and I had ever done. What was it like going back to television – was the last time in 2015? Since “Cougar Town”?

COX: What have I done in those six years? I must have done something. I was excited to come back, but I had to be really cautious because I had done a pilot, and I was like, “Oh, I really don’t like it if I don’t get picked. That’s not fun.” I was very careful and I read “Shining Vale” and I thought, this is the best character I’ve ever played.

HILL: Wow.

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

HILL: His comedic timing on this show is insane.

Image loaded with laziness

Alexi Lubomirski for Variety

COX: It starts with an idea, writing. I think we have an amazing cast. The people in the city were just molded beautifully.

HILL: Have you ever been scared when you’re filming these shows? Like, does something scare you?

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

HILL: That’s hilarious, especially since the movies you’ve made.

COX: Yup. I don’t watch them.

HILL: What?

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

HILL: “Scream’s” is scary, though. I’m a scared cat. What was it like filming the “Friends” reunion? I mean, did that bring closure for you? Is there such a thing?

COX: It was amazing. I’m very close to everyone – um, but we don’t all see each other, and we haven’t all walked into the same room since the show itself.

HILL: Are you serious?

COX: Isn’t that crazy? But the girls see each other a lot, and we see each other separately. But, yes, walking on stage at Warner Bros. it was the most exciting thing. I immediately started crying, and I mean a lot of things happened. So many years together. I mean, his name, we’ve been through it. So I don’t feel the closure, but I feel like it was the luckiest. I can’t believe I got this role and was able to make these friends and be a part of something that’s still happening.

HILL: It just doesn’t happen anymore, what you did. And our youngest daughter Audrey is obsessed and watches it all the time. Obviously, so am I.

Courtney Cox: Style: Maryam Malakpour

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