"Cougar Town" has settled into its new cul-de-sac on TBS, but fans have been happy to see the same characters they knew and loved when the comedy was on ABC, where it aired for its first three seasons.
Busy Philipps, who stars as Jules Cobb's (Courteney Cox) assistant Laurie Keller on the show, talked to HuffPost TV via phone about the rejuvenation of "Cougar Town" (Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST on TBS). Below, find out how Philipps handles her "Friends" obsession in front of Cox, how she finally got her best friend (and former "Dawson's Creek" co-star) Michelle Williams to film a guest stint, what's in store for Laurie's love life in Season 4 and more.
Last week's episode, there was a lot of back and forth between Laurie and Grayson with her trying to prove to him that he's homophobic. It seemed like you guys had fun with that storyline.
I had the best time. I loved it. Josh Hopkins nailed that speech at the end so hard every time. It's really fun when you're working with an actor who just fully commits and is really excited about what they're about to do. Sometimes, when you've been on a TV show for four years, that enthusiasm kind of wanes, but when we got on set that day, he was like, "I'm gonna do this!" I was like, "Great! I'm so excited. I can't wait to watch it." [Laughs.] So it was just so enjoyable for me to watch that big speech the end where he was snapping and talking about how he enjoys the finer things in life. It was great.
The "Zooey Descha-Hell-No" line was hilarious. Do you guys ever improvise those one-liners?
Specifically, Zooey Descha-Hell-No was scripted. But Bill Lawrence [creator of "Cougar Town"] comes from the belief that you get it once as they've written it and then you can feel free to pitch jokes or improvise. Sometimes when we feel like we're almost there with a joke, we'll even ask the crew, like the camera department.
"Things That Annoy Ellie" was a real collaboration between us and camera department. [Laughs.] Ethan specifically -- one of the grips -- came up with so many things that annoy Christa [Miller]. A lot of these guys have been working with Bill since "Scrubs" so they obviously know Christa very well. It was a really fun game to play on set and we all kind of just spitballed and yelled them out and then we tried to remember the best ones and made sure we got those ones shot.
The writers do such an amazing job. They're really fantastic. But there's also such an awesome atmosphere of collaboration and inclusion and that goes beyond just the actors -- we really do turn to our camera department all the time to ask their opinion about jokes. Especially when you're not shooting in front of a live audience, you need the response of the people around you to know if something is going to funny or not. And we're so blessed because we have such an awesome crew, who's really like family and has been so invested in the show. They're very loyal.
In this week's episode, it looks like Laurie will be trying to give Travis [Dan Byrd] some advice.
I'm trying to remember. I'm pregnant so it's hard. Plus, we shot that in August. That is one of the fun things about having the delay in shooting is that I watch the show as a fan and I'm constantly surprised by the things that we do. [Laughs.]
I'm a huge "Friends" fan. I feel like, at this point, I've outed myself. I tried to play it so cool for the first year and a half that I was on the show with Courteney, but now I feel like I talk about it enough. I watch "Friends" still twice a day on reruns because it's amazing. It totally holds up. And I will reference things from "Friends" to Courteney and she gives me this blank look like I'm a crazy person. She always says, "I have no idea what you're talking about." I'm like, "Remember when you guys went to the Bahamas because Ross had that paleontology conference?" And she just looks at me like I'm crazy.
What are you excited for fans to see this season?
Well, Wade [Edwin Hodge] ends up coming back from Afghanistan sort of for good and he and Laurie have this chance and start having a real relationship for the first time ever. It's interesting and Laurie hasn't had a real boyfriend since Smith [Ryan Devlin] broke her heart in Season 2. I was really excited about that. Laurie has a lot to deal with because, you know, she loves Travis in a way, and as we saw in the first episode, she tries to talk to him about it and he just runs away. [Laughs.] So he's gotta go do his own thing. He tries to be a player. I actually really like episode -- it's hilarious. And Wade and Laurie have their real relationship. It's pretty interesting and I get to make out with Edwin Hodge a lot.
Since the show started basically, we've heard about you trying to get Michelle Williams to make a cameo. How did the stars finally align for it to happen?
Well, over the summer, Michelle and I went over to Courteney's house for a Sunday afternoon and Bill was there. We just were joking around and he said, "I have this idea for the tag of the very first episode of all the ridiculous things that are not going to happening this year on 'Cougar Town.'" Michelle's schedule is so insane and we had this little snippet together. [Laughs.] When it was over, she looked at me and said, "Can I stay for more?" So I said, "Well, yes! Of course!" It was so fun to do and I think it was sort of perfect that we didn't publicize it. It was just sort of a treat for the fans of the show. We had a blast! [Laughs.] It was so fun for me to see Michelle dressed up like that, doing the accent and being Laurie's sister. The goal was just to make ourselves laugh so we definitely did that and then I was glad when other people were excited about it, too.
"Cougar Town" airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST on TBS.
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