Tribeca: Courteney Cox Directs Like an Actor, 'Just Before I Go' Stars Say

Courteney Cox at Thursday's premiere of "Just Before I Go"
Courteney Cox at Thursday's premiere of "Just Before I Go"
 AP Images

Courteney Cox made her feature-film directorial debut at the Tribeca Film Festival Thursday night with the premiere of Just Before I Go.

The indie about a depressed man who returns to his hometown to tie up some loose ends before he commits suicide stars a handful of notable TV and film actors including Seann William Scott, Kate Walsh, Olivia Thirlby and Raising Hope's Garret Dillahunt.

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Cox told The Hollywood Reporter that she was determined to find the best actors for the parts, which was her response to the challenge of not being able to get financing without a cast and not being able to get a cast without financing.

"I just love this movie so much, and I don't want to wait and see if I can figure it out later," she said of her attitude. "I just chose the best actors for the part and thankfully they believed in me enough and put some blind faith in something they didn't have a reason to."

One of the actors putting his faith in the first-time film director was American Pie alum Scott, who embraced the opportunity to do something different from the characters he often plays.

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"This was something I'd never had a chance to do before, but I thought it was beautiful; I thought it was relatable," he explained. "There's a lot of things in the film that I thought [were] really interesting challenges tone-wise. It was funny and then also very serious subject matter.… And I wanted the chance to work with Courteney. I just had a feeling that she would be great and she was."

Indeed, Scott raved about her work as a director, calling working with her "one of the best experiences I've ever had."

He compared it to working with another great actor who's also a director, Pete Berg (The Rundown).

"The two of them -- their instincts. They're so decisive. The way they communicated their ideas. [It was] totally different than anything that I'd experienced before," Scott said.

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Producer Gabe Cowan also argued that Cox's background as an actress made her a good director.

"Directors tend to be scared of actors -- I don't know if you know this -- but they always don't quite know the thing to say and Courteney would just get in there and be like, 'Listen, this is the moment … we're looking for this,' and would make it happen," he said.

Cowan told THR that he's known Cox ever since she first started dating her now ex-husband David Arquette, playing in a band with the actor and even going to their wedding. Year after that, he and Cox ran into each other at a charity event and when she discovered he'd become a producer, she wanted him to read her script. A few conversations later, they were working on the film together.

A past experience also led Dillahunt to Just Before I Go, explaining that he'd worked with Cox before and had a good time, so when she asked him if he would be in her movie, he said yes.

With the end of Raising Hope this season, Dillahunt told THR that he's embracing new opportunities even though he'll miss working on the Fox sitcom.

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"It was one of the best jobs I ever had," Dillahunt said of Raising Hope. "It made for a good year for me because I'd get to do that for six months, try and make my coworkers laugh every day, and then go do movies for six months. It was kind of the perfect job in this crazy new landscape of television and film."

"But, you know, all of them end. I guess it was its time," he added. "I couldn't be doing this new series that I'm doing called Hand of God for Amazon if I was going back to Raising Hope. I choose happiness!"

Scott, meanwhile, is hoping he'll get more chances to play three-dimensional, substantive characters in the wake of his role in this film.

"I'd like to do more things like this and play real people, you know, three-dimensional characters with substance," he said. "I've always wanted to do that. I hope people will see this and give me more opportunities to do things like this."

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