Courteney Cox Talks Artistic Collaboration and Her Documentary Short ‘Sophie and the Baron’

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When one thinks of Courteney Cox, the first images that pop into one’s head are those of her iconic acting roles: as the neurotically lovable 20-something Monica Geller on Friends, or the ambitious reporter Gale Weathers in the Scream franchise, fringed bangs and all. But Cox has been building a career offscreen, as a director and producer bringing other people’s stories to life, for years.

Her latest project is the documentary short Sophie and the Baron, about the legacy of famed Rolling Stone photographer Baron Wolman, on which Cox serves as a producer. Joined by the film’s director, Alexandria Jackson, and its co-star, visual artist and writer Sophie Kipner, The Hollywood Reporter sat down with Cox for a conversation about the collaborative nature of filmmaking and honoring the late Wolman’s legacy.

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“Courteney gave me my first job ever on a film set,” Jackson explains from a sunny Los Angeles living room, where the three women are huddled together comfortably on a long sectional couch. Cox hired Jackson as an assistant on one of her early directorial endeavors, Talhotblond (2012), for Lifetime. Cox recalls: “She really kept me so organized. And, you know, she would take the behind-the-scenes photos. She’s been a photographer for years and years.” Jackson comes from a photojournalistic background, having worked with such publications as Time and Newsweek documenting stories around the globe.

The three women have been close family friends for decades, so when the opportunity arose to work together on Sophie and the Baron, the decision was a no-brainer. “Courteney, for as long as I can remember, has always been so encouraging of Alex and myself,” Kipner explains. “She was so supportive [of] me with this art form at the beginning, before … who knew where that would take me.”

Sophie and the Baron follows Kipner, who, while working in London as a bartender, met the legendary music photographer by chance, serving him a vodka tonic one night. Inspired by his historic photographs of Woodstock and music legends like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, Kipner goes out on a limb and asks if she can interpret Wolman’s work into her own signature blind contour style. The result is a heartwarming short exemplifying the beauty of collaboration both on- and off-camera. “He actually considered the film the bookend to his life as a photographer and friend,” Jackson recalls. “He was so proud of Sophie. He thought it was so cool that Courteney was producing.”

Cox became inspired to get involved in production after watching how meticulously the Friends set was run around her. “I think that being on something that special made me realize I want to be involved in everything. And I do think editing is a big part of my brain. I love to edit. I think that’s a huge part of how films are made and where they come to life.”

Her involvement in all stages of the production process shows no signs of slowing down: She plans to direct another film, a love story written by one of Mindhunter season two’s scribes, and she’s starring in and producing the new Starz series Shining Vale. Last but not least, of course, there’s Scream, rebooted this year after the passing of the franchise’s original director, Wes Craven.

“When I went to his funeral [was] probably the most emotional I’ve ever been,” Cox recounts. “He’s such a big part of my life, and he taught me so much.”

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