Courteney Cox, Dan Byrd, Busy Philipps
The question of will they or won't they was buried long ago for Cougar Town's main couple Jules (Courteney Cox) and Grayson (Josh Hopkins), who tied the knot at the end of Season 3 in a spontaneous but romantic beachside ceremony. However, just as the mystery surrounding their future died down, the questions surrounding whether Jules' son, Travis (Dan Byrd) and her best friend Laurie (Busy Philipps) heated up. Now in Season 5, which premieres Tuesday at 10/9c on TBS, the flirtatious twosome are giving this relationship thing a go. How will Jules react? Non-spoiler alert: Not well! Byrd talked with TVGuide.com about why a Travis-Laurie romance was "inevitable," the bumps ahead in their relationship and just why Byrd wanted no say in picking his body double.
Why do you think it was the right time to wait to explore a more romantic relationship?
Dan Byrd: I think it's just a natural evolution of the story and the show. We kind of went back and forth the first few seasons on whether we should go down that road. We got to a point where it was just inevitable. The show kept going and we had to go there. It's still sort of up in the air whether it's something people even want to see or not, but it's something new to explore and brings a whole new dynamic with the show and with the characters.
Was it nerve-wracking at all diving into that story this season after a few seasons of build-up?
Byrd: Definitely, because you just have a whole new relationship established with the person. I'm talking about the Dan-Busy relationship as opposed to Travis-Laurie. We're not used to kissing each other and all of a sudden we have to be kissing each other all the time and it's kind of weird. I guess it sort of comes with the territory as an actor. ... I always have to preface with, it's obviously not a really tough job. Busy is obviously really beautiful. I could be doing way harder things than kissing Busy Philipps.
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You're almost done shooting the new season so is that something that you've adjusted to a little bit as time went on?
Byrd: Definitely. We just did one today and it's like old hat at this point. We don't need to talk about it or think about it. It just happens and then it's over and usually someone has to come over and wipe lipstick off my face after and that's really the only concern at this point.
You said that this pairing was inevitable, but was there something else that convinced you that now would be the right time to explore this and that now would be the right time for Travis to be in a relationship like this?
Byrd: We were at the tipping point where it was either going to sink or swim with Trav and Laurie. Ultimately, I think we owe it to the fans of the show and the fans of the two of them together to explore that. And it allows us to play something new which is always fun.
Can you talk about what some of the bumps will be for Travis and Laurie as a couple coming up this season?
Byrd: It's just all that new couple stuff and how everybody deals with it and we try to have as much fun with as possible. In one episode, Laurie decides to redecorate her apartment and so it's the whole thing of two people trying to have input on what the apartment should look like. You don't even think you care about those things until you're sitting there trying to make those decisions together and all of a sudden it's a thing. Stuff like that, kind of like playful, fun stuff. There are no like huge, monumental things to overcome. Really, the people overcoming things are the rest of the cast overcoming the idea of the two of us together and that's something that we touch on in the first episode. Jules' whole dilemma is trying to be OK with the Trav-Laurie situation. Of course, she sort of pretends she is, but she's kind of in a state of denial and in coming clean, she has to figure out how she can actually get to a point where she's OK seeing her best friend and her son together.
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It seems like there's a lot of opportunity for physical comedy coming up this season when you're playing with this new situation, such as the scene with you and Laurie in the shower in the season premiere.
Byrd: Most of the stuff that looks fun is usually the least fun because it's all very technical to make sure it looks funny and looks right. I'll come right out and tell you that both Busy and I had body doubles for the shower scene. Aside from the shots of our faces, all the body parts you see — that wasn't us.
That must be an interesting conversation after having played the son role for many years. Then you come in for Season 5 and suddenly you have to have a conversation about whether you're going to use a body double.
Byrd: It is interesting. It's one I try to avoid at all costs, but sometimes you got to have that conversation. They had several body double options to choose from and asked me to pick and I just preferred that somebody else pick that. That's just not something that I really want to spend time thinking about at the end of the day and I feel bad picking one guy over another because of my own vanity and hang-ups. I would obviously prefer the guy with washboard abs, but I know that's not realistic at the end of the day so I just let somebody else make those decisions for me.
Coming up for the rest of the season, what will we see from Travis in regards to his school life and his life after he graduates?
Byrd: The whole college life is not touched on at all this season. It's really just him and Laurie and then him with the rest of the gang. I do graduate from college so this is the second graduation that we've gone through. Next up: funeral. [laughs]
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Will we see him pursue photography or maybe a different career?
Byrd: Most of this stuff is just exploring the Trav-Laurie dynamic, but then towards the end of the season, they talk a little more seriously about what the future actually holds for both of them. ... Then if we come back next season, I'm sure that will be touched on more.
Now that Travis is dating Laurie and about to graduate, is he also closer to becoming a full-fledged member of the Cul-de-Sac crew? He is of drinking age now.
Byrd: You can only hope. I think they always want him to be an outsider to a certain extent, because you need somebody to sort of comment on the ridiculous stuff they're doing so consistently. You kind of need that voice in the mix. Yeah, the older he gets, the more molded into the fabric of the whole group I think he becomes.
The show has become known for its great title cards and the season starts off with a comment about how the show is now in its fifth season. After a few years on the bubble at ABC, what does it feel like to get to Season 5?
Byrd: It was really cool. It's been something that surprises you every step of the way. I definitely didn't expect a pilot called Cougar Town to last a whole season, let alone five seasons. It's like The Little Show That Could and it feels like we've really hit a groove, especially in the last couple of years. It's just a great place to be and it's been a huge blessing in my life.
Cougar Town returns Tuesday at 10/9c on TBS. Are you excited to see Travis and Laurie together?