The veteran TV actor gets his cowboy on in the new streaming sitcom.
You could say that Eddie Cibrian has been researching his role in Country Comfort for the better part of a decade.
The ruggedly handsome actor — whose many TV credits include continuing roles on Baywatch Nights, Third Watch, CSI: Miami, Rosewood and the daytime dramas Sunset Beach and The Young and the Restless — has been married since 2011 to multi-platinum-selling singer-songwriter LeAnn Rimes. So he has some idea what it’s like to live under the same roof as a country music artist.
That experience kinda-sorta serves him well in Country Comfort, the new Netflix sitcom in which he stars opposite singer-songwriter-actress and American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee (pictured with Cibrian above). The show’s premise, according to Netflix: “When her career and personal life get derailed, an aspiring young country singer named Bailey (McPhee) takes a job as a nanny for a rugged cowboy named Beau (Cibrian) and his five children. With a never-give-up attitude and loads of Southern charm, this newbie-nanny is able to navigate the family dynamics and be the mother figure they’ve been missing. To her surprise, Bailey also gets the band she’s been missing in this musically talented family who help get her back on the road to stardom.”
We recently spoke with Cibrian about playing for laughs while getting his cowboy on in Country Comfort. Here are some highlights from our conversation.
Cowboys & Indians: So when you signed on for this project, did your tell the writers right from the start that you already knew what it’s like to live with a country singer?
Eddie Cibrian: [Laughs] Yeah, I did feel like I had a lot to look back on, so I could tell them, “Hey, I have real world experience with this, so we're good." But truthfully, what really drew me to the show is, well, I think a lot of kids probably wanted to be a cowboy while they were growing up. But with me, specifically as an actor, I have always wanted to play a cowboy. It’s something in me that just feels just natural. And it’s a part of me, being around horses, doing all that stuff, working hard, treating people politely with respect. And so, when I had the opportunity to do something like this, I was like, “Oh man. Well, I can check that box off. I'm good to go.” So it’s been fun.
C&I: Has your wife helped you get into the groove of playing this character?
Eddie: Oh, sure. She’s the one that I can kind of bounce off ideas with as far as how my accent is sounding. She's like, “Ah, it sounds pretty good, just like my dad.” And I think, “Okay, then I’m good to go.”
C&I: But she doesn’t need to give you many pointers about life in the music world, right?
Eddie: You know what? The writers are pretty good about knowing that stuff. And besides, that’s more appropriate for Katharine McPhee’s character, Bailey, who basically plays this aspiring singer who’s trying to make it in the country music world. And she just happens to stumble upon my family, who owns this horse ranch outside of Nashville, and ends up becoming the nanny for them.
Of course, LeAnn does pop up on an episode of the show.
Eddie: Yeah, she comes on and makes appearance as herself. And she’s one of the favorite country music artists of one of my daughters on the show. At one point, my daughter gets let down by Bailey. So Bailey basically convinces LeAnn Rimes to come to the house. Like, “Please, please, please. You’re going to have to save my relationship with this girl, Cassidy. Please come to the house.” And so LeAnn shows up at the house, and everyone's dumbfounded that she's actually there. And then they end up all singing a song together. So, it’s a very cute episode.
Actually, LeAnn's a big fan of the show. When we first started filming, she would come to the set and she loved everything about it. And so when they asked her to [guest star in an episode], she was like, “Oh, for sure I would love to.” So, that worked out nice.
C&I: You’re best known for your dramatic roles. But so far, it looks like you’re getting your fair share of laughs in Country Comfort.
Eddie: The writers are so clever and cute. And, obviously, it’s a show that’s a situation comedy, so you’re going to have your laughs, and some of them are going to be silly. But I think what’s different about this show is, it really has a lot of heart. You’re going to find yourself laughing, but you’re also going to find yourself really touched and crying sometimes at some real issues that are dealt with in a heartfelt way. And that’s special.
And then it’s going to have music, country music, which a lot of people enjoy and love. That’s going to be special, too. So the show’s got a lot of different elements that’s going to hopefully appeal to a wide range of people.
C&I: When people recognize you on the street, what show or what role do they most often want to talk about?
Eddie: What am I stopped on the street for? That's a good question. A lot of times, it’s for a show that was kind of short-lived, but it seems like it has kind of a cult following, because a lot of people want to talk about it — Invasion, a show I did for ABC. It was on only one season, but it was a really good show that a lot of people really, really got into. They kind of go, “Man, I loved that show. I wish I would've known what happened.” So that happens quite a bit, but you just never know. It's just so random.
C&I: Up until now, you’ve worked primarily in broadcast television. Do you think you’ll reach a different audience on a streaming platform like Netflix?
Eddie: Look, I think an audience is an audience, right? You always want to reach the biggest audience possible. I think the only real difference is that, when you do something on network television, you’re going to have a season premiere, and people are going to watch it, and hopefully they get invested. But then you’ve got to wait a week for the next episode. And you’ve got to wait another week for the episode after that. And then sometimes you’ve got to wait three weeks, because they have some other things that come on. And then you see the next episode.
But with a Netflix show or any streaming show, for the most part, once it premieres, if you want to binge-watch every single episode back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back, you can do that. And so that’s really, to me, the primary difference. If people watch Country Comfort, and they like it, they can say, “You know what? Let’s just watch every episode.” Just binge-watch ten episodes during a single evening. And then they can go back later and watch it again.
You just hope that your show reaches a wide audience. Ultimately, funny is funny. So if it works for an audience, great. We’re all happy.