While his show is in ‘Cougar Town,’ Josh Hopkins’ heart is in Big Blue Nation

Lexington native Josh Hopkins, came out with cheerleaders Juliet McCreary, left, and Jacquilyn Lopez to do the "Y" , as #1 Kentucky defeated Texas-Arlington 92-44  on Tuesday November 25, 2014 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff.

Lexington native Josh Hopkins, came out with cheerleaders Juliet McCreary, left, and Jacquilyn Lopez to do the “Y” , as #1 Kentucky defeated Texas-Arlington 92-44 on Tuesday November 25, 2014 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff.

Life is about to get stressful for Lexington native Josh Hopkins.

It’s not that he’s wrapping up a six-season run on the TBS sitcom Cougar Town, playing opposite Courteney Cox, and now has to figure out what his next act is.

It’s something that starts late Sunday: The release of the NCAA brackets and start of the men’s college basketball championship tournament.

“It’s been a joy for me, as for all fans,” says Hopkins, who was in Rupp Arena March 7 to watch the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team complete a perfect season. “Once the brackets come out is when it really stops being a joy for me and just becomes an ulcer.

“Every win, before we get the last one, doesn’t make me happy as much. It just gets me back to medium. I’m just a wreck during the games, because we are the best team, you worry about that one game of not playing well and someone being on fire.”

Hopkins flashes back to the 2010 season with John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, when UK seemed to be cruising to the national championship and then ran into West Virginia in the Elite Eight.

“We were definitely the best team in the country that year, and we just shot really poorly, and they shot the lights out,” Hopkins recalls. “That hurt, because we were definitely the best team that year. We’re definitely the best team this year.

“I just want to cap it off right, and I’m stressed.”

Cougar Town actor Josh Hopkins and his sister Shae on the red carpet at the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs May 3, 2014 in Louisville, Ky. Photo by Amy Wallot.

Cougar Town actor Josh Hopkins and his sister Shae on the red carpet at the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs May 3, 2014 in Louisville, Ky. Photo by Amy Wallot.

He has already capped off a milestone of his own, filming the final episodes of Cougar Town late last year.

In the show, Hopkins played Grayson Ellis who, like Cox’s Jules Cobb, was newly divorced. Her cross-street neighbor, Grayson initially irritated Jules by dating younger women, but the two eventually fell in love and got married.

“My character has definitely had a giant arc on this show,” Hopkins says. “In the pilot, they all had this group and I was not in it. I was the neighbor who thought they were all weird and acted weird. Six years later, I’m married to Jules, thick in the group, and probably one of the weirdest acting characters. They’ve fleshed him out to be this narcissistic, wannabe actor with this weird, outlandish behavior.”

The series itself had an interesting history, starting in 2009 on ABC and running there until TBS bought the show in 2013 and took it to basic cable. Hopkins says the cast enjoyed the somewhat uncommon situation of knowing it was the last season.

“I will probably never, ever film a series finale again and know it’s the series finale,” Hopkins says, noting most series are simply unceremoniously canceled, with no chance to tie things up. “We knew this whole time this was our last season, and we got to appreciate it and have fun. and I think the writers did and the actors did, so we all just enjoyed it.

“To have a six-year run in this fickle business is such a blessing, it hasn’t even really been sad.”

Hopkins says viewers will be happy with the final episode, set to air March 31.

“They did a really good job this season and for the final episode of staying true to the wackiness, and yet every episode ends with a little bit of heart,” Hopkins says. “The finale’s going to have that, and I think they did a really good job of tying everything together — the wackiness and the fun and the family spirit of the show.”
Hopkins, who has a long list of screen credits, acknowledges Cougar Town is the show he is best known for. Now, he is in the process of looking for what is next for him, and projects include a pilot he is filming for NBC.

“Hopefully, I will find something to rival it,” Hopkins says of his Cougar Town success. “But I’ve been blessed to have it.”

Now, the proud member of Big Blue Nation just wants his Wildcats’ season to have a great ending too.

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