Courteney Cox makes her way to a table in the back of a sun-drenched corner of the Drawing Room inside the Crosby Hotel. Halfway to her destination, she stops abruptly to fluff a couch pillow. A little later she pauses again — this time midway through a cappuccino and mid-sentence — to note that one of the cushions on the neighboring chaise lounge is facing the wrong way with its zipper exposed.
“I'm doing that every minute of my life, no matter who I'm talking to,” Cox tells InStyle of her detail fixation. “I'll be in the middle of a conversation, it can be the most important conversation in the world, and it wouldn't matter; I can't help but notice the little things.”
Although Cox may self-diagnose it as a somewhat annoying habit ("It's not my choice, because who wants to literally bog your mind with other details that aren't important?”), her penchant for noticing seemingly insignificant details ties in quite nicely with her new career focus: directing. “I love it because my brain works that way,” she says of making the switch from acting to directing. “I think I suffer from acute awareness anyways. You know, the design part of directing, the actual visual part.”
Cox, who has spent a better part of her career making people laugh (first as Monica Geller on Friends and now as Jules Cobb on Cougar Town), is taking her acting craft to the next level in her directorial debut of feature film Just Before I Go. The dark comedy stars Seann William Scott, Kate Walsh, and ex-husband David Arquette and is a satisfying mix of LOL comedy with tear-jerking drama: Cox’s ideal recipe for film success. “I love extremes. I love to laugh and then get scared,” she says. “There's nothing better than those two."
In the movie, there's a lot of family dynamics going on.
Well, I'm really attracted to family issues. I have a really unique situation. Here I am, David’s my ex-husband but he's one of my very best friends. And then I'm in a relationship [with boyfriend, Snow Patrol's Johnny McDaid]. And he is friends with David, and it's kind of a new thing to be just this comfortable and this okay with everything. David just has my back.
Your daughter, Coco, also has a role in the film. Does she have the acting bug?
This was her film debut, when she squirts David with the hose. Coco sings at the beginning and the end of the movie. She has such a good voice. Johnny directed Coco singing the song. And just the two of them went into his studio and just recorded this amazing, haunting little voice. It didn't take long. They came out about five minutes later and I was like, "Wow, that's great!" It's so beautiful.
How would you define your style?
Preppy rock ’n’ roll — because I'm not ultra hip, I'm not trendy at all. I would feel nervous if I wore something trendy because I would actually be the person to wear it a little too long or too early, and then I'd be like "Wait, I shouldn't be wearing that. Well, someone tell me!" I like to keep it really simple. I wear a lot of black.
You do love to organize things it seems. What does your closet look like?
It's very well organized. There's barely any clothes in it, actually! You'd be like, "This is your closet?" I give everything away. As soon as I'm done wearing it, I just get rid of it. I don't collect, I'm not a hoarder and I rarely save things, I have barely anything in it!
Is it color-coded?
No, but I do have it organized by the most recent things front and center. The old things I move [to the beach house] and then the things that were at the beach house I get rid of. I just do a little shift. It's a rotation. It's like a dry cleaners.
When do you feel the most beautiful?
Weirdly enough, I probably look the best in the morning. I'm a little plump and it’s the time before I get dehydrated throughout the day and forget to drink water. But if I've slept well, I probably feel the best first thing in the morning. I love sleep. But honestly, I really feel the most beautiful when I'm happy, like now. I'm in a really good place right now.