It's been 11 years since the last installment of Wes Craven's genre-redefining 'Scream' franchise hit screens, and time has been kinder to some of its stars than others. Though Neve Campbell has been out of the spotlight of late, the slasher series' other leading lady is enjoying the kind of career longevity that would put Gale Weathers to shame.
Back in 2000, when 'Scream 3' was released, Courteney Cox was already a household name, thanks to her memorable role as Monica Gellar-Bing in 'Friends,' but over a decade later she hasn't ventured far from her prime-time roots. She currently stars in ABC's 'Cougar Town,' the Wednesday night comedy from 'Scrubs' creator Bill Lawrence.
Earlier this month, Moviefone sat down with Cox to discuss the "high school reunion" vibe of returning to the franchise that brought her big-screen recognition; the personal challenges of updating 'Scream 4' for a new generation; and why the best investment you can make this year could be an empty paint can. Light spoilers ahead.
Eleven years is a long time to leave such memorable characters to their own devices, and things have changed considerably since the last time we visited Woodsboro. As 'Scream 4' begins, beleaguered heroine Sidney Prescott (Campbell) is returning to her hometown on the last stop of her self-help book tour, where she reconnects with Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette) and Gale Weathers (Cox), who are now married.
Cox's character -- arguably the most assertive, active protagonist of the original trilogy -- now finds herself stuck in a rut, somewhere our formerly intrepid journalist has no interest in staying.
"She has writer's block," Cox explained. "She was famous in her own right. She had her own entertainment program, she was a reporter, and now her life has gotten really dull. Nothing exciting is happening, there's no new 'Stab' movies because she writes the books for them ... and then, Sidney comes into town and starts the fire going. People start dying and she gets excited."
Some actors would balk at the prospect of playing a character with such tendencies, but Cox relishes the opportunity to emphasize Gale's campy aspects.
"I love it. She doesn't think that it's at all immoral to want to expose or be a part of the excitement of people dying," Cox admitted, laughing lightly. "It's part of her job, and I like that kind of morbid sense in her. She's married to Dewey, and he's really earnest and not taken as seriously as he should be -- and neither is she. I think that there are these kind of silly characters that offset the tragedies that happen in this movie."
As someone who has traversed the roads of fame for a number of years, Cox found it easy to relate to Gale's feelings of uncertainty in terms of staying relevant in her chosen field.
"I mean, you always get scared ... You know, like, after 'Friends,' what was I going to do?" she reminisced. "I did a series after that a few years later. I feel lucky. I always seem to do things that are not complete bombs -- 'Dirt' was on for a couple seasons, then I went with Bill Lawrence for 'Cougar Town,' so I knew that at least had a good shot ... But yeah, you're always scared that that'll be it."
Speaking of staying relevant, in an effort to connect with a whole new generation of horror fans, many of whom might be unfamiliar with the first three films, 'Scream 4' has taken advantage of the millennial mindset right from the outset -- from director Wes Craven's constant Twitter updates over the course of shooting, to screenwriter Kevin Williamson's inclusion of new media as an integral part of the plot, to the hiring of a number of pretty young things from the CW demographic, such as Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Adam Brody, Kristen Bell, Anna Paquin, Lucy Hale, Shenae Grimes, Aimee Teegarden and Brittany Robertson, the franchise has undoubtedly received an infusion of fresh blood.
For Cox and the older members of the cast, watching "the kids" on set was an eye-opening experience. "I'm not [a technology buff] at all," the actress insisted wryly. "I hear the kids talk about tweeting and such, but no, I haven't Facebooked or Twittered or anything. I will maybe one day, but for now I've got to raise Coco. I'm so glad that people are doing it because you can learn so much information and it's fun, but it would probably be too much pressure for me."
One thing that was all pleasure, no pressure, was reuniting with her 'Scream' castmates, many of whom she hadn't seen for over a decade. Cox even went so far as to call the reunion her most memorable moment from filming.
"Just that first dinner that you have when you get on location and you're there with everybody," she reminisced fondly. "You looked around and it's ... It wasn't just Wes and Neve and me and David, but it was the same crew, the same everybody. It was just so nice to be all back together, and to meet the new kids."
Check out what Cox had to say about her 'Cougar Town' role, including spoilers for upcoming episodes, over at TV Squad.
You can have your own 11-year reunion with the Woodsboro gang when 'Scream 4' opens this Friday, April 15. Will you be there on opening night?
Follow Laura on Twitter: @LauinLA.