She brought her bubbly, funny personality to Dawson’s Creek, ER and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Now Busy Philipps is eliciting laughter as Courteney Cox’s gal pal and assistant Laurie Keller on ABC’s new comedy Cougar Town. Cox plays divorced mother and real estate broker Jules Cobb, who is trying to get back into the dating world. Philipps is the younger, party hearty friend helping her get her groove back. Ultimately the two get into all sorts of mischief along the way. This scenario is a major turn for Philipps, who is enjoying co-starring on a brand new series after years of playing solid supporting roles.
At the New York Television Festival opening night party, Busy gave ADD the scoop on her new show (which debuts tonight at 9:30 PM Eastern), channeling her younger, crazier self and her love for Tori Amos.
What do you think of Courteney’s opening sequence where she’s examining the flab on her body?
It’s incredibly brave, isn’t it? It’s something I personally… I had a baby a year ago, and I would not do that right now. I would not allow someone to film me as I pull at my skin and stretch marks and flab, but Courteney’s bold. She really believes in the show. She knew it was going to be funny and trusts Bill [Lawrence, director/writer], and it is funny. It’s a great moment, and you feel like you’re immediately on board with her when she shows that vulnerability.
Hollywood has finally been getting comfortable with showing the lives of women over 40. How do you think your characters will offer perspective on women around that age?
I think it’s an interesting time in a woman’s life. Jules is on the precipice of having an empty nest. Her son is 17 years old and about to go to college. She’s newly divorced, so for the first time in her life she’s found herself without anyone to take care of, and I think it’s relatable. Lots of women go through that. A lot of my friends’ parents got divorced right when their kids went to college, around when they were 18, so the mom is not only not married anymore but she doesn’t have the kids to take care of. So what you do? Jules looks to my character Laurie to help her navigate the party scene and the bar scene and what’s appropriate for a woman her age. She doesn’t want people laughing at her and is very concerned about that. And I get her into trouble.
What real-life people have inspired your character?
Sort of myself a few years ago. I’m a calm, married mom now, but a few years ago I was wild and hit the bars hard with my friends, looking for guys to meet and that whole business. So I’m calling on a younger, ditzier me. That’s what I’m trying to channel, but with bigger boobs because I didn’t have these boobs five years ago. They’re not fake, they’re from a baby. [laughs] Just FYI.
Can you hint at any of the plotlines coming up after the pilot?
I think that the show evolves in a really nice way. It’s not just about Courteney’s character going out and trying to get laid. It evolves into a relationship story about her navigating her friendships. Her best friend/next-door neighbor Ellie, played by Christa Miller, wants things to be one way for them, and her younger assistant, played by me, wants to go out and have fun and party and live it up. Her ex-husband is pulling her in one direction, and her son is pulling her in another direction, so it becomes more about Jules’ juggling act and trying to live her new, single life. It’s not just an endless stream of hot, young guys coming through the show. [laughs]
I hear you’re a Tori Amos fan.
I’m a huge Tori Amos fans.
What do you think of her new album, Abnormally Attracted To Sin?
I really like it. I haven’t listened to it enough yet. With her music I always need to process it. I need to listen to it until I have it memorized, and then I can figure out how I feel about it.
I feel like on the last two albums she got her rock back.
The American Doll Posse tour was one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen in my life. I saw four different shows when she was playing the different characters. I feel that she is one of the only musical performers out there who is actually doing art on stage. And even though I’m not a fan, I feel like Lady Gaga in certain respects is channeling and trying to do these weird characters in different costumes. I’m telling you, there’s nothing like Tori Amos on stage, playing Pip or one of those characters that she does. It’s awesome. I think I’ve seen her 18 times, and I’ve met her a few times. The last time I met her was at the Nokia Theater, and she recognized me. I was so excited!