On tonight’s show (4th February), Graham welcomes Friends star Courteney Cox, Hollywood Brit Minnie Driver, Oscar- nominated Uma Thurman, Rocketman star Taron Egerton, West Side Story’s Ariana DeBose, and singer songwriter Lola Young

Courteney Cox says playing the piano with Sir Elton John was the thrill of her life, Minnie Driver talks about losing her mother, Uma Thurman says playing Arianna Huffington was daunting, Taron Egerton is excited to be back on stage, Ariana DeBose says being nominated for two Baftas is wild and crazy, and Lola Young performs live in the studio

Courteney, talking about her new comedy horror series Shining Vale, says, “It’s not gory, but it is scary.  I adore Sharon (Horgan), who’s idea the series is.  I knew her through her work and by zoom but when I went to her house for dinner we were up until four in the morning just laughing.  She is very funny, and I really think she is the best.”

Asked about reprising her role in Scream, she says, “I can’t believe I am in it again and I couldn’t believe they were doing another one, but it’s great; funny, gory, and really scary.  It’s just heightened.  Everything in the world changed and it had to keep up – it’s relevant.”

Talking about learning a piano piece especially for Elton John, Courteney says, “I learned to play in lockdown but then Ed Sheeran invited Elton John to dinner at my house and suggested we all perform together.  So, I called my piano teacher and 20 minutes later he was walking out as Elton was walking in.   It was the scariest, most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever done, and it was the thrill of my life!” 

Minnie, talking about her new podcast Minnie Questions, which she describes as “A cultural anthology,” she says, “I talk to really lovely, amazing people.  I am a real fan of brevity, I like things to be short and disciplined so I ask them the same seven questions, which are great triggers for conversation.”  

And, on her upcoming autobiography, Managing Expectations, she says, “It’s a sort of memoir and the central thesis is that in your life things not working out is usually something working out; something else.  Life isn’t straightforward – the stuff that is ungainly, and difficult, and misfires is where the interesting stuff grows out of.  

“My mum died in the middle of writing the book which was terrible, and I thought everything was derailed and I am still figuring out what good can come out of it, but it added a brilliant book end, and she would be thrilled to be the last crowning chapter in anyone’s book and she’d happy that I managed to carry on.” 

Uma joins Graham from New York to chat about her new thriller series Suspicion.

Talking about the show, she says, “We shot it in the middle of the pandemic in London, because you Brits are the bravest and went back to filming again first.  It was very exciting, and it is really good.”

Asking about playing Arianna Huffington in the upcoming Super Pumped, she says, “She is a completely fabulous person.  She is fantastic, brilliant, and alive.  It was a very daunting thing to play her, and I did call her ask her permission and to see how she felt about it.  She would be happy that I was doing it.”

Reminiscing about being the iconic bride in Kill Bill, she says, “I really didn’t want to wear the yellow tracksuit.  I had just had my son and anyone that has just had a baby is not going to want to wear a skin-tight onesie, they would have a lot of anxiety. So, there was a lot of training, a lot of work, and a lot of brilliant costume work recreate the look of Bruce Lee while covering my belly!”

Taron, talking about his West End debut in Mike Bartlett’s hit play Cock, says, “It’s been nine years since I have been on stage, but it was always my first love.  In my youth I performed in musical theatre and Shakespeare and that was what I thought I would do with my life, but then after drama school I got a big film and life has happened since then, so I haven’t had a chance to do theatre.  I am really excited to be back.”

Ariana, talking about playing Anita in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, says, “It is an extravaganza of a role.” 

Asked about receiving two Bafta nominations for the role, she says, “It’s wild, so crazy.  I didn’t even know that was a thing you could do.  I am honoured.  My fingers are very crossed that we can make it happen that I am back here for the awards.”

Lola performs her new single So Sorry live in the studio before joining Graham for a chat.

And finally, Graham pulls the lever on more foolhardy audience members brave enough to sit in The Big Red Chair.

The Graham Norton Show, Friday 4th February BBC One 10.35pm and available on BBC iPlayer.

Notes to editors – All quotes in this release were made during the recording of the show but won’t necessarily appear in the final version.

Next week (11th February) Graham’s guests include Adele, Dame Helen Mirren, Jim Broadbent, Golda Rosheuvel, and George Ezra.