When I was asked to write an article about what it was like to work with my husband on a TV show, I assumed it was because people thought it would be titillating. He's a creator/writer/producer, I'm an actress; there must be lots of gossip, in-fighting, maybe some crazy-sexy time on the set, right? Actually, it's pretty tame. But it is still the best thing I've ever done.
When Bill Lawrence and I got married, I was on The Drew Carey Show (yes, I occasionally booked jobs without the aid of my husband). I did an episode of his new show, Scrubs, for fun. It quickly turned into any actress' dream gig. Bill and I were cranking out children -- we have three now -- and I was able to work when I wanted with a hyper-talented cast. I wasn't a regular, so I could still be a full-time mom. When the show's star, Zach Braff directed, he would joke that Bill had a rule that I didn't have to work before 10 a.m. if I didn't feel like it. Although that was, unfortunately, false, Bill truly did cater to me. That's why it was a scary decision when he created a new show called Cougar Town (worst title ever). He wanted me to be a regular. Full time. And my friend, Courteney Cox, was set to star. She was the one who Bill was going to cater to -- she had earned it, and Bill was very clear. I would be just one of the gang.
Before I go on selling the joy of working with your spouse, I should make something clear: Although we have a great marriage, it is as trying as anyone's. People have maybe, sometimes, said that I can, occasionally, be a teeny bit edgy and judgmental. And Bill may very well be the most annoying human being on the face of the planet. He opens his eyes in the morning, wide awake, and full of questions. "Do you think we'll ever move back east?" "Do you think Charlotte will attend Sarah Lawrence college?" (She's 11.) "Are we going to still play tennis together when we're old?" I don't know Bill, it's 6:30 a.m. He can't turn off lights, he has lost his keys and wallet every single day since we've met, and he argues with our 11-year-old daughter as if they are both 13 years old. He sulks, complains and doesn't know how to turn on the heat. It's like he is trying to find ways to be less sexy. And yet, when he asked me to be on Cougar Town, I jumped at the chance. Why?
It's an honor to work with Bill. I realize I am biased. I just think he is one of the best comedy writers/show-runners of all time. It's not just because he is talented (Bill created Spin City, Clone High, Scrubs, and Cougar Town). It's the way he works -- there's no ego involved. He asks for blanket trust from his cast and crew and gets it because he admits when he's wrong. If he asks you to try something and it's not funny, Bill takes responsibility and says it's his fault. If your idea is better, he is excited and proud of you. Bill used to love watching Neil Flynn improvise lines on Scrubs so much, it challenged me to become a better comedienne. Bill gives you, as an actor, tremendous respect -- including ownership of your character. He writes, directs, and edits the shows, and he does it all so well and so brilliantly that he actually becomes sexy again. Seriously, it's like a magic trick. I can only hope he feels the same way about working with me, so I'll let him write the next paragraph.
Hey, Bill here. Look, I love working with Christa. There is no "crazy-sexy time" at work, which I consider incredibly lame, but still... I know it sounds like a lot of time for a husband and wife to be together but we drive to work separately. I'm a writer first so we aren't around each other all day. Plus, as any parent knows, with three kids we aren't really around each other at home all that much. (There are more of them than us so it's a constant battle -- and they are winning.) That being said, working with Christa is a gift. One of the main reasons I married her is that the girl just cracks me the hell up. Endlessly. It is inspiring to write words that she says. She gives me confidence, respect and makes me feel special. Plus, every husband should have a job (at least for one day) that he gets to tell his wife what to wear, where to stand and what to say -- without getting smacked. Back to you...
Me again. I have been procrastinating with this article for weeks. The reason is simple: Cougar Town is back on television, and although we feel like the show is creatively better than ever, the ratings are "meh." It's difficult, maybe even a little scary, to write about your dream job when you know it might go away at any second. Plus, if the show did end, my husband would be around the house a whole lot more, asking questions, losing stuff... And nobody wants that.