[from Movieline, 1/00]
"Friends" star Courteney Cox Arquette explains why she's in couples therapy with her new husband, David Arquette, confesses to being a control freak, and declares that she wishes her Scream character, Gale, was "bitchy from top to bottom."
When I arrive at Courteney Cox Arquette's Brentwood home, she gives me a warm greeting and tells me about her special hospitality that's in store: her new husband, David Arquette, has been assigned as our chef and waiter for the evening. When we've settled into chairs at a table in the backyard, sure enough, David emerges from the kitchen with a plate of hummus, salad, crackers, cheese, grapes and a bottle of 1996 Chateau Grand-Mayne. After he's arranged the impressive spread, the newlywed husband departs and his wife looks after him lovingly. Domestic happiness has been a long time coming to the new Mrs. Arquette. The parents to whom she was born 35 years ago in Birmingham, Alabama, divorced when she was 10 and remarried into larger families, so she wound up one of 13 siblings in two separate houses. She's had important relationships over the years, notably with Michael Keaton, but she never tied the knot until now.
After leaving home at 18 to pursue modeling in New York City, Courteney got her first break when she was lifted onstage by Bruce Springsteen at the end of his "Dancing in the Dark" music video. Small roles in soap operas kept her busy over the next few years until she landed a regular gig as Michael J. Fox's girlfriend on "Family Ties." She acted in films now and then - like Cocoon: The Return and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective - but her career didn't take off into high gear until 1994. That's when she got the call. Would she like to anchor a group of almost complete unknowns - Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, and Matt LeBlanc - on a new TV show called "Friends"? Seven years later, "Friends" is the most-watched sitcom on TV and Courteney's character, the sweetly neurotic Monica, is one of the most imitated and beloved personalities in America's living rooms.
All of the stars on "Friends" have now made major movies, but Courteney has been in the most successful ones - Scream and Scream 2. [In February] she and her husband will be starring in the third Scream installment and next year, she'll show up with David again in the slapstick romantic comedy they produced together, The Shrink Is In.
Lawrence Grobel: You and David went from shooting The Shrink Is In to getting married and going on a honeymoon to shooting Scream 3. Ever get sick of him?
Courteney Cox Arquette: Are you kidding? I'm so lucky to have someone I can be with every single day. I can't believe it - it's amazing.
Q: Is the reporter Gale as bitchy in Scream 3 as she was in the first two Screams?
A: You bet. I love the idea of playing a character that you love to hate. In Scream 2, I was booed by the audience, which made me happy. If it was up to me, Gale would be bitchy from top to bottom and never be sweet.
Q: You were very smart to get involved with the Scream franchise.
A: I knew it was a safe choice. To be honest, I didn't read anything else that made me feel, "Wow, I've got to sink my teeth into this." There's only been one thing offered to me that I knew I had to do, and that was The Shrink Is In.
Q: What was it about The Shrink Is In that grabbed your attention?
A: I'm not a big romantic-comedy person, but this one isn't sappy. It's about a girl who doesn't want to fall in love because she has too many phobias.
Q: Do you think you and David has chemistry together on-screen?
A: We're really comfortable with each other, and I think we've had good chemistry in the past - I love our characters Dewey and Gale from the Scream films.
Q: Is it true that in real life you and David are in therapy together?
A: I was in separate therapy, but when David and I got engaged we started therapy together. I'd heard that the first year of marriage is the hardest, so we decided to work through all that stuff early.
Q: Is it true that David once said therapy is the glue to your relationship?
A: I don't know. I know he thinks it's important and we love it. I learn so much from him when we're in therapy. A lot of the time we'll go in and he'll just talk about himself, about his childhood, his life in general. he next week maybe I'll talk about me. It isn't just our "issues."
Q: Couldn't the two of you do this together in your bedroom at night without a third party?
A: We don't do a lot of analyzing at home. That's when we have lighter times together.
Q: Where did you find the therapist?
A: I heard about him through Jennifer Aniston. He's great. He doesn't take sides, he's really honest. Last week he let me have it, then later he called me up to make sure I was OK. He's very nurturing.
Q: Why did he let you have it?
A: I hope I'm not going to regret saying this. He said, "Courteney, you're not very special to many people." It was like, "Whoa! What are you talking about? I'm special to my friends, my sisters." I was getting my feelings hurt really easily and he was trying to let me know it's OK for certain relationships to disappear, not to be special to these people. It's more important to give the time to the people who I am special to, and who are special to me. I don't have to spread myself thin.
Q: It must be challenging to have such a high-profile job and to want everyone to like you.
A: I remember when TV Guide did a poll four years ago that asked, "Who are your favorite characters on 'Friends'?" I opened it up and saw that Monica was the lowest-rated "Friend." This was when Monica had nothing going on, she wasn't dating Chandler. People weren't relating to her because she was just a clean freak and no one cared. But I couldn't make myself understand that they were rating Monica, not Courteney Cox. Man, it hurt me. I lived with that hurt. It was so bad.
Q: Did you discuss how you felt with the others on the show?
A: Oh yeah, I'm not one to pretend I'm OK. I'll tell anybody I'm hurt. I'm an open book.
Q: We'll come back to "Friends," but first I want to talk more about David. When did you first look at him with unusual interest?
A: When we first started doing Scream, I remember thinking, "Oh, he's so cute. I wish he would take those headphones off." He's really into his Al Green.
Q: So that's what did it for you, that he was ignoring you?
A: That little bit of hard-to-get was good, because I wasn't ready to be in a relationship when I first met him. Plus, I thought he was too young for me and too crazy.
Q: What was it that you finally saw in him?
A: Someone who had the best heart of any person I'd ever met. Somebody who was just pure goodness. Never heard him say a bad word about anybody, to this day. There's nothing manipulative about him. He really has fun and knows how to live.
Q: Did the eight-year difference in your ages matter at all?
A: We got married when I was 34, and three days later I turned 35. So I'm thinking we're really seven years apart, but there are three months where it's eight years. But it's seven! Let me make that clear: seven years. That's a lot to me. But the only thing that will bother me is if I start feeling like, wow, I look older than him.
Q: How did David propose?
A: I had no idea he was going to do it. We flew to Panama City Beach, Florida, where my dad and brother live. That night we went to have lobster at my sister-in-law's house. A big barge that was setting fireworks off pulled up, and everybody said, "Let's go down to the beach." My whole family was there and David's brother Alexis had a video camera and was filming it. David said, "Wow, look at the fireworks," and I still didn't understand what was going on. Then David dropped to his knee and asked me to marry him in front of my whole family. It was wild. And they all knew he was going to do it because he'd asked my dad for my hand in marriage.
Q: Did you cry?
A: Yeah, I cried. I was in shock. Then I said, "David, you mean I can't smoke?" You see, we had just gone to a hypnotist together to stop smoking and I was so nervous when he proposed that I wanted a cigarette.
Q: How long had you been smoking and how many packs a day?
A: I'd been smoking since I was 13. Never over one-and-a-half packs, but for sure one. When I dated Michael Keaton he didn't smoke, so I snuck for about four years in that relationship.
Q: Ever get the urge to fire up again?
A: I want to smoke right now. It hurts.
Q: Have you ever smoked dope?
A: I've smoked pot maybe six times in my life.
Q: Getting back to you and David, I've heard there's an engraving inside your wedding ring - what does it say?
A: "A deal's a deal."
A: My maid of honor told me her father said, "Tell Courteney and David, a deal's a deal." Her parents were married until her mom died, and it was the best, most loving relationship I'd ever seen. So anything coming from that man in regards to marriage really meant something to me. And when I heard what he said, I thought, yeah, that's true. It's a deal. You make a commitment, things change, but you work on it to keep the commitment. A deals' a deal. Let's always make this our priority.
[At this point, David comes out to pour us more wine.]
Q: How much do you love your wife?
David Arquette: I love her beyond belief.
Q: How did you know that she was the one?
DA: Because ultimately when I really, like, looked at what I wanted out of a relationship, she was it.
Q: You're only 28. How did you know what you ultimately wanted?
CCA: That's what I kept asking him. How do you know, David?
DA: I knew for a long time what I really wanted - a caring, loving person who's open with her feelings and communicates, a nurturer.
Q: How did you recognize it in Courteney?
DA: It's a feeling you know in your heart.
[David exits once again.]
Q: During your six years with Michael Keaton, did you ever contemplate marriage?
A: Michael was my longest relationship and most important before David. David is my dream, but, yeah, I'm sure when I was with Michael I thought he was someone I would end up being with.
Q: Is it too personal to ask why your relationship with Michael didn't work out?
A: I'd love to one day talk to him about it, because we've never done that. He's really private. But I got burned once by People magazine when I spoke maybe two sentences and they wrote on the cover that I discussed "My sad breakup with Michael Keaton." And I hadn't. Your question was why did we break up? I just think we weren't right for each other ultimately.
Q:Was it a mutual breakup?
A: It was mutual. I was too young to know what it was that I needed in a relationship.
Q: Did he send you a wedding gift? A congratulatory note?
Q: Do you find that sad?
A: It's weird. When I got engaged I was wondering how that works. Like, do you call? I didn't know what the protocol was, so I figured it was best not to do anything.
Q: Besides gossip about your breakup with Michael Keaton, there has been gossip about your weight. Has that bothered you?
A: There's so much [gossip] that goes around, I'd like to start a file: Who Gives a Shit. People [magazine] asked me, "Are you bulimic?" I said no, but then they wrote on their cover: "She talks about her bulimia!" I wouldn't throw up if you paid me. I thought the rumors were so stupid. I eat so much, but I just have the metabolism of a hummingbird.
Q: How did the rumors begin?
A: I lost weight and people thought I was too thin. They still think I'm too thin.
Q: Does your mother think so, too?
A: Oh yeah. She would like me to be heavier. But it's weird - we don't see ourselves right. I don't think I'm too thin at all. I understand when people say, "Well, your face gets gaunt," but to get your bottom half to be the right size, your face might have to be a little gaunt. You choose your battles.
Q: What does David think?
A: If I gained or lost 50 pounds, he would notice, but he doesn't care about stuff like that. He doesn't want me to be some big whale, but who knows, maybe he wouldn't mind that either.
Q: Magazines are always covering what you wear and what makeup you have on. Does this seem strange to you?
A: Like, who cares? If you could really believe magazines and believe that this makeup artist actually uses this product, that would be great. If someone has a great product that actually tightens up the skin under your eye, tell me. I'd like to make a newsletter about really great products.
Q: Let me put you on the spot: what product would you endorse as really working?
A: For the most part, products don't work, but you can find certain ones that do. Something that really works is Phytomer - their whole line, from the body to the face. It's French and very hard to find.
Q: If their sales rise after your endorsement gets out, what do they owe you?
A: If they want to throw me a bone and send me a night cream, I'll take it, because it's pretty expensive. But that only happens when I, like, say my favorite candy bar is Butterfinger, then I get a big box of Butterfingers. It doesn't happen with the good stuff.
Q: Speaking of good stuff, how much was the new Jaguar in your driveway?
A: Considering it's a Jaguar, it was inexpensive. They start at around $43,000 and you can add to it. I got the navigation system, which is really cool, plus the premium sound system, the bigger wheels. For all this I wrote a check for $56,000. Not bad.
Q: Because of your "Friends" character, people assume you must be neurotic. Are you?
A: Yeah. But I'm not as neurotic as I am obsessive. I think a lot. I have a very active brain that doesn't shut down easily. I'm not saying everything that comes out is smart, I'm just saying it works overtime overthinking.
Q: How important was your virginity, since you held it till 20?
A: I wanted to make sure I was really in love with someone and it was going to be a lasting relationship. And it was, it lasted a long time.
Q: Were you still a teenager when you became a model?
A: Yeah, 18. I went to New York before I graduated from high school. The Ford Modeling Agency sent me out on an interview and I got the job.
Q: What did you get out of modeling?
A: Not much. I hated it. I didn't feel like a model, ever.
Q: Did modeling make you more self-conscious about your flaws?
A: Probably, yeah. I'm so self-critical. I know I'm very lucky, but I see flaws everywhere. And that's my flaw.
Q: You've complained about having no rear end and that you don't like your freckles.
A: I'd like to have porcelain, milky, creamy skin or olive skin - you always like what you don't have. But I'm learning to love my freckles. I wasn't born with the most rounded rear end. And if I wanted it, it would take a lot of work.
Q: Since you're now married to David, do you spend much time with his sister Patricia and her husband Nicolas Cage?
A: Patricia and Nic are really good hosts and the most thoughtful people. At Easter and the 4th of July they put on the big family thing - they always have special-occasion things.
Q: Didn't you have a party at your house for Rosanna's 40th birthday?
A: Yeah, it was a Woodstock theme. This place was so decked out. I was working on "Friends" the day they were setting up and I came home at midnight and there was a huge tent and sofas, lights, incense everywhere. It was wild.
Q: What makes a successful party?
A: Good people, good music, good food. We had a book wedding shower before we got married - probably the most fun I had at a party. Everybody brought a book.
Q: Any fiction?
A: I got two books by John Fante from Beth Henley, the playwright. David read one on our honeymoon.
Q: Do you have a favorite artist?
A: I'm obsessed with Ken Williams - I have six of his paintings. He's from the South, like me. I commissioned him to do a painting for above the fireplace, that's how great I think he is. There's another artist I really want to buy a painting from, Robert Williams. I saw a painting of his for $100,000 - wow! My sister-in-law Patricia has a lot of his work.
Q: What's your favorite film?
A: Fargo is one. Oh man, I loved that movie. Those characters were so interesting. I didn't care about the murders, just keep me in the bedroom with the couple. I also love The Way We Were - it still makes me cry. I want to tell Barbra Streisand not to try so hard when she's cooking Robert Redford pot roast - you're pushing yourself on him, can't you tell he's aloof? I saw that when I was 10 years old. I cried so hard that I had to be ushered out.
Q: So you're into movies that make you sad?
A: Give me a movie that makes me cry and I'm happy. I wept so hard at The Full Monty I thought there must be something wrong with me. It was uncontrollable. I went back two days later with my brother and I did the same thing.
Q: What scenes made you weep in The Full Monty?
A: When the lead guy showed up when we thought he wasn't coming. When the wife said, "I love you the way you are." That type of thing. When they threw their things off and everybody saw them naked. I just love friendship stuff. People who stick up for each other. It's so rare.
Q: Were there any actresses you were particularly attracted to as a child?
A: I always loved Audrey Hepburn. When I got a little older, Bette Davis.
Q: Among movie people you've met, who has most impressed you?
A: Billy Bob Thornton and Laura Dern. Morgan Freeman.
Q: If you could choose some movie star's career, whose would that be?
A: [Thinks] Maybe Michelle Pfeiffer. She's played such interesting roles. She's been able to do so many things.
Q: What do you remember about working with Jim Carrey on Ace Ventura?
A: I met my husband on Scream, but I laughed my ass off every day on Ace Ven
tura. Q: Who's your best friend on "Friends"?
A: Jennifer and Lisa are two of my very closest friends. I love them so much.
Q: Is it difficult to make new friends at this stage in your life?
A: Guy friends are easy, I have a bunch of them. With girls, it's harder to come by. I recently became great friends with a girl who's worked on my house.
Q: Ahhh, your house. I hear you're a pro at buying a house, remodeling it, sometimes with your own hands, then selling it. What got you into carpentry?
A: I'm impatient. If something breaks in the house, you can call somebody, but that might take a day or longer. I'd rather try to fix it myself. I fix my own sprinklers. When we had the party for Rosanna the back lights wouldn't go on. I can't tell you how much it annoyed me. I had to fix it through the first hour of the party. I'm tenacious.
Q: How many houses have you remodeled?
A: Five. I could never decorate my house in one style because I change so much. I drive David crazy. He loves stability. I need change, I live for it.
Q: Do you have a favorite style?
A: Modern Moroccan. I like to mix modern furniture with Moroccan. I like layers.
Q: Did you ever want to be an architect?
A: I took drafting courses during my first year at college, Mount Vernon in Washington, D.C.
Q: What tools should everywoman have in her toolbox?
A: A Phillips head, a flat-head screwdriver, a hammer, an electric drill and a pipe wrench - if something is leaking it's nice to have one of those big monkey wrenches.
Q: What about a tape measure and a level?
A: Yeah, you're right. I have four tape measures all over the house. And a level is brilliant for a woman because we care so much about leveling.
Q: What's your goal for the millennium?
A: It's good to write out your life's goals, then you get closer to getting them. I haven't done that and I don't know what mine are other than having a great family, being a great mom. That's a priority. And I really want to work. But I'm a control freak, I love to be in control, so I'd love to produce things, or at least have an equal voice.