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Q&A – Josh Hopkins Talks Lebanon, the NFL Draft, and Phone Sex With Cougar Town Fans

Josh Hopkins’s charisma and comedic timing helped him graduate from bit player to Courteney Cox’s love interest on ABC’s Cougar Town. But when the hit sitcom goes on hiatus, Hopkins stays busy with challenging roles in indie dramas such as Lebanon, Pa. Written and directed by Ben Hickernell, the film stars Hopkins as a 35-year-old ad executive who returns to his rural hometown to bury his father and strikes up a beneficial friendship with his pregnant teenage cousin (played by the fantastic newcomer Rachel Kitson). Hopkins called to discuss Cougar Town tricks, his love of Scream 4, and his thoughts on the NFL draft.

Q: Is it difficult finding strong film projects that appeal to you when you are committed full-time to a television program such as Cougar Town?

A: Yes, definitely. We work so hard shooting the show. It is fourteen- or sixteen-hour days. And when we finally have our hiatus, unless you are a celebrity or someone who can bring an audience to a movie — I’m really not that — it’s hard to find something that you want to do, that wants you to do it, and that can fit in your schedule. It has to start and end for you when you start and end your hiatus. I mean, it’s hard to get a movie or a project without that limitation. It’s especially hard when you say, “Okay, I have this month to this month. Go!”

Q: You call Cougar Town work, but it looks like a whole lot of fun to us.

A: That is true. [Laughs] We have a great time, and I’m so lucky to
be doing it. I have been very lucky for most of my adult life to be
working as an actor. But this is the first time that I’ve had a show
that actually went to a second season. And we’ve just been picked up for
a third. So I can truly appreciate it in a way that some people

Q: You guys gave out a telephone number on the air recently and asked fans to call. Did it work?

A: Man, I spent three hours yesterday just fielding call after call
after call. I had people telling me about God and another woman who
tried to have phone sex. It was all sorts of folks.

Q: I removed my Lebanon, Pa. screener from my DVD player
and, ironically, MTV’s 16 and Pregnant was on the TV. What a perfect
dichotomy between a mature handling of teen pregnancy and what I
consider exploitative reality television.

A: That’s such a great way to put it. Wow, thank you. Can you please
say that I said that? [Laughs] That’s so wonderful. That’s exactly what
we think. I’ve watched my fair share of bad reality TV, but that’s just
so disgusting. Even worse so is the fact that these kids are becoming
celebrities from it. I’ll turn on the TV or look at a magazine, and it’s
like, “Who is this person?” And you find out they are from 16 and
, and I’m like, “Really? They’re celebrities now?” You read
about them on the news having fights and breakups, and I think, “Well,
of course.”

Q: So the mature approach of Lebanon, Pa. is what appealed to you in the script?

A: Yeah, I thought that Ben did such a great job in the subtlety that
he took in writing the movie. To me, he approached a tough subject
without taking sides. That’s hard to do, and it’s hard to convey, but I
thought that he did a wonderful job.

Q: And the film never judged its characters, despite their flaws.

A: I thought that was the thing that I enjoyed most about the script.
It was just so nonjudgmental. It let you watch it and decide for
yourself. You understood where every character was coming from.

Q: Did you go see Scream 4 and support Courteney?

A: I sure did. And I’ll be honest — I really liked it. I didn’t think I would because I don’t like horror movies and it’s Scream 4, you know? But I loved it.

Q: I have to ask, as a proud graduate of Auburn University,
tell me why Cam Newton should be the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.

A: Oh, man. Listen, I love Cam Newton. I love everything about the
guy. But if I were in the NFL, I wouldn’t take him. [Laughs] I’m no
football scout. I’m just saying that I want the guys who can go back in
the pocket, read a defense quick, and get rid of the ball. And I don’t
know that Cam can do that. He’s got an arm, and he can run, and he’s an
unbelievable athlete. But to me the most successful guys are just
pocket guys who get rid of the ball and don’t get hurt the whole season.
When someone says “Yeah, that guy’s not mobile,” I’m like, “Good.”
Guys are just too fast and too big in the NFL. Cam’s a specimen, but you
just can’t take off and take that pounding in the NFL. At least, I
wouldn’t do it.

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