Faith Hill and Courteney Cox are both from the South and when they sit down to talk, e.g diversity Actors on Actors series presented by Apple TV+, they start chatting with ease. They discuss Nashville and whether Hill ever forgets the lyrics to her songs on stage. (“Sometimes, yes I do,” says Hill.) They delve into their recent television work, with Cox asking Hill about her starring role in Taylor Sheridan’s “1883” — opposite her husband Tim McGraw — and Hill responding with questions about Cox ‘ The Shining Vale, a really scary horror comedy. They also cover “friends” reunions, amusement park rides, and armpit hair.
COURTENEY COX: Did you have to train to ride a horse like that? Because you’re really good at that.
FAITH HILL: Oh thank you. I ride horses. Not as good as Tim. After our second child, Maggie, I sat on my horse, Bandit, and I wasn’t an avid rider. But Bandit took me off the farm one day towards the barn, which is something you should never allow your horse to run into the barn.
COX: But did you have a choice?
HILL: I had no choice. He started running so fast – it was probably over a mile. And I couldn’t stop him. And it scared me. After you have kids, that’s so irresponsible of me. So it kind of freaked me out for a while, and I stayed away from horses for a minute. But I drive casually.
COX: It’s like me on a roller coaster. I love roller coasters so much, and then when they check the bar and you check the tape, I say, ‘Wait a minute. I have a child. What am I doing? Why do I have to turn myself upside down right now?”
HILL: Have you ever done the – what’s it called – Tower of Terror where you’re just in free fall?
COX: I did it once and thought that’s the worst thing I’ve ever done. And then someone talked me into doing it another time, months and months later, and I kinda like it now. But you said, “I shouldn’t have let that happen.” What would you have done to the horse?
HILL: I should never have allowed him to even trot. I learned so much during the process of what Taylor called “cowboy camp,” and I thank God for it.
COX: How long did the cowboy camp last?
HILL: Tim and I stayed there for about two weeks.
COX: Where was it?
HILL: It was in Texas. It was at Taylor’s farm. I learned how to drive a car, which by the way is so hard.
COX: I mean you’re amazing at it. You’re a performer and you’re this incredible singer who’s loved and you have to get on stage and feel so comfortable. Is it weird to act?
HILL: I love to perform and after three songs it comes naturally to me. I stand close to my band most of the time and I need constant reminders, ‘Oh yeah, the crowd is like that!’ However, it was nice to have the opportunity to play a different character than myself. It was really rewarding. And being able to do that with Tim was remarkable. And we’ve been married for 24 years. We’ve done everything together. That was the first thing we never did together.
COX: Never played together? He’s really good at that too.
HILL: he is 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 lyrics to each other was when the camera started rolling and they said, “Action.” We never practiced our lines together.
COX: I heard people had to grow their hair out from under their arms to be authentic.
HILL: Yes, honey, let me tell you something. I can call you honey ’cause you’re from –
COX: Of course. I’m from Alabama and we’re doing it there.
HILL: Where’s the sweet tea? No, that was really difficult, and Taylor actually called my husband. We were at a wedding, our nephew’s wedding, and he said, ‘Who’s going to be the one to tell your wife to stop shaving under her arms?’ And I guess that can wait? He says, “No, stop tonight.”
COX: I lasered so I wouldn’t be able to do it.
HILL: It really blew my mind, I have to say. All due respect to those who love this and all that freedom, woo! But for me personally –
COX: That’s correct. I am sorry. Yes, I am not judging it. I’ve just never done it before. And the accents were really — I mean, how do people know what the people in “1883” sounded like?
HILL: We didn’t actually work with a dialect coach, but some of the actors did. Taylor wanted us to just be ourselves.
COX: Smallpox was rampant there. I looked it up later and wanted to know how to get smallpox. You probably know it, but you get it face to face.
HILL: If you are around someone who has had smallpox – yes. Because it was kind of like, wow, if you had smallpox, you were gone. Shot and killed or just kicked into the woods or a river, whatever was closest. It was brutal. Taylor, it was important to him that it was as authentic as possible, so the struggle, the discomfort. And it was uncomfortable. i won’t lie It was probable – it wasn’t even “probable”. It was the hardest thing Tim and I have ever done. How did it come back to television – was it last in 2015? Since Cougar Town?
COX: What have I done in these six years? I must have done something. I was excited to come back, but I had to be really careful because I had done a pilot, and I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t really like it if it doesn’t get picked up. It’s not funny.” I was really careful and read The Shining Vale and thought that’s the best character I’ve ever played.
COX: It was the richest, the most complex. I love Sharon Horgan – she’s my sense of humor and writing style and all. And Jeff Astrof, who wrote Friends. And so I knew how funny he was, but I didn’t know how incredible. It was all. It connected the horror –
HILL: Your comedic timing on this show is insane.
COX: It starts with an idea, writing. I think we have an incredible cast. The people of the city were just beautifully cast.
HILL: Do you ever get scared when filming these shows? For example, does anything ever scare you?
COX: Well, I’m a really anxious 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 creepy. One of the things is that it’s very easy to pop out and scare me. So Gregory [Kinnear] would sometimes just scare me on set and then I could do it again because I’m a pretty quick howler. I’m a fast study for scary.
HILL: That’s hilarious, especially since the movies you’ve done.
COX: Yes. I don’t watch her.
COX: No no. I don’t “Scream” – I just go like that. [Covers her eyes.] There is no possibility. I don’t care if I know what’s happening, who’s behind the mask.
HILL: However, “Scream” is creepy. I’m a scared cat. What was it like filming the Friends reunion? I mean did it bring you closure? Is there such a thing?
COX: It was amazing. I’m very close to everyone, but we don’t all see each other, and we haven’t all been in the same room since the actual show.
HILL: Are you serious?
COX: Is not that crazy? But the girls see each other often, and we’ve seen each other separately. But yes, going on stage at Warner Bros. was the most emotional thing. I immediately burst into tears and I mean so many things had happened. So many years of being together. I mean, you name it, we’d been through it. So I don’t feel closed, but I just feel like it was luck. I can’t believe I got this role and was able to make these friends and be a part of something that’s still going on.
HILL: What you did just doesn’t happen anymore. And our youngest daughter, Audrey, is obsessed and watches it all the time. Apparently I did too.