Courteney Cox for Starz’ Shining Vale

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Courteney Cox in Shining Vale

Courteney Cox in Glowing Valley
photo: starz

Courteney Cox has lived with two career-defining characters since the ’90s. friends“Monica Geller and the Scream The franchise’s Gale Weathers continues to tower above their expansive body of work and pop culture conversations today, especially since Cox only recently revisited both. She was part of HBO Max’s Friends: The reunion special last year, and she reprized her tenacious journalist role for the fifth time Scream movie in January.

The actress will now spotlight her new fictional persona: Patricia “Pat” Phelps in Starz’s new horror comedy Glowing Valley. The show leverages Cox’s comedic timing and her experiences of being spooked by Ghostface multiple times, adding a nuanced twist to the genre. Glowing Valley follows Pat and Terry (Greg Kinnear) who, with their two children, move from Brooklyn to a 200-year-old Victorian mansion in Connecticut for a fresh start. But they get more than they bargained for, as their home may be haunted by the ghost of a 1950s housewife. Unless Pat’s imagining it all because of her meds?

Cox returns to television as a top-billed series seven years after the end of regular Cougar Town in 2015. In a roundtable interview, she narrated The AV Club that Pat approached her about the challenges the character presented. “I was excited to play someone with so many layers. I’ve never played a character with so much going on,” she says. And that’s not even an understatement.

Courteney Cox and Mira Sorvino in Shining Vale

Courteney Cox and Mira Sorvino present Glowing Valley
photo: starz

Pat and Terry decide to uproot their lives to mainly work on their marriage after she cheats on him. She hopes that moving to a large, quiet room will improve her sanity and give her the energy to start writing again. Pat was previously a wild party girl who found success with a feminist erotic novel but hasn’t published anything in 17 years. Adds Cox: “They’re going through marital strife, she’s depressed, she’s having an affair, she’s got writer’s block, she’s raising a teenager, which is a challenge in itself. And then she becomes possessed.”

That’s right: Pat begins to see and bond with a spirit named Rosemary (Mira Sorvino), adorned in standard 1950’s-style clothes. The more Rosemary becomes involved in Pat’s personal and professional life, the stranger it gets Glowing Valley gets. It turns into a quirky situation comedy at times, but also addresses the deep-rooted issues of a woman striving to hold everything together for the good of her family – all through the lens of horror and possession.

Greg Kinnear and Courteney Cox in The Shining Vale

Greg Kinnear and Courteney Cox will be there Glowing Valley
photo: starz

as Glowing Valley‘s central duo, Cox and Kinnear, said in the interview that they spent a lot of time fleshing out Pat and Terry’s chemistry, including improvising scenes at supposedly scary moments to add levity to the show. “The thing is, I like being scared, but I also hate it,” says Cox. Kinnear made clever use of that fact. In one episode, Terry surprises Pat while they’re checking out a creaky closet, briefly freaking her out.

“It worked!” Kinnear shows off his improv timing in this scene. “Courteney (and initially Pat) is a pretty little frightened butterfly. There were times I felt like Terry would come back to scare her about it,” he says. Cox reveals that it was particularly spooky because of the spooky real house in Pasadena where they were filming: “There was a guy who died there in the ’80s. His wife is sure of his presence there and I believe in all that stuff.” What better way to get into the role than that?

Glowing Valley isn’t a subversive slasher, but Cox credits her for the time she worked with Scream Director Wes Craven for learning how to, well, scream and be scared on screen: “I’ve had experience with people jumping out and things like that. [Co-creator] Jeff Astrof was open to hearing my thoughts, like saying, “That would never happen in a horror movie.” All the training I’ve had Scream and do friends set the perfect tone for me to be able to play that, and then add drama. That was a nice balance.”

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