Interviews


Courteney Cox Arquette


Occupation: Actress, Model
Date of Birth: June 15, 1964
Place of Birth: Birmingham, Ala., USA
Sign: Sun in Gemini, Moon in Virgo
Relations: Husband: David Arquette (actor)
Education: Studied architecture for one year at Mount Vernon College

 

The raven-haired, waspishly thin Cox was born the youngest of four children to an affluent suburban Birmingham, Alabama, family, and was raised accordingly  she joined all the right clubs, attended all the right cotillions, and was inculcated with all the proper mannerisms of a well-bred Southern belle. But as in any Southern tale, all was not well beneath the surface: her parents divorced when she was 10, and both remarried partners who had plenty of children of their own  the extended stepsibling brood grew to a baker's dozen. Cox, now the youngest in an even longer line, got attention by indulging in mildly rebellious antics and by learning to play the drums. She bailed out after her first year of architecture studies at her mother's alma mater, Mount Vernon College, in Washington, D.C., and headed for New York City to pursue her dream of becoming a model (you would imagine that, at 5'5," the dream wouldn't have even made it past airport security). Cox cashed in family connections to take a job as an office assistant to stepfather Hunter Copeland's nephew Ian Copeland, a New York City music agent of some repute (and brother of the Police's Stewart Copeland), with whom she subsequently began a romantic relationship. Copeland encouraged his much younger girlfriend to chase down her modeling aspirations, and further inspired her to dabble in acting; under the auspices of the Copeland clan, Cox landed a contract with the prestigious Ford modeling agency, and began taking voice lessons to hack away at her honey-dipped Alabama drawl and acting lessons to conquer her stage fright.

Shoots for magazines like Teen Beat and Young Miss, and for romance-novel covers led to bookings for Noxzema, Maybelline, and Tampax commercials (Cox was the first actress to say the word "period" on television, and not mean a punctuation mark), which led in turn to a two-day, walk-on part as a debutante named Bunny on As the World Turns. Basically, she only had up to go. Armed with this scant résumé and decked out in jeans and sneakers, Cox turned out for a cattle-call audition for a part in a Bruce Springsteen music video. The video's director, Brian DePalma  you may have heard of him  selected the sylph-like Cox from a swarm of over three hundred contenders for the $350 job; the video rocketed Springsteen to even loftier heights of fame, and when he snatched that fresh-faced slip of a girl out of a sea of anonymous faces, it was like the hand of God had designated her the Chosen One.

But Cox had to wait out a fallow season or two before reaping the benefits of her lucky break. In 1985, the 21-year-old Cox made her television debut as a geeky delivery girl with telekinetic powers on the pilot for the doomed comedy Misfits of Science. Neither the show, nor Cox's first two feature-film outings  in Down Twisted and Masters of the Universe  left an indelible mark on the pop-culture landscape, but she subsequently made more of an impression on the long-running sitcom Family Ties, in which she played Lauren, the psychology major who uses the overachieving Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox) as her guinea pig and winds up dating him. Apart from her fictitious significant-other duty on that show, Cox became the longtime lover of actor Michael Keaton, whom she first met in 1989 (their relationship lasted five-and-a-half years and came to an end in late 1995). After Family Ties closed up shop, Cox made a halfhearted attempt to build a career in films, enduring the typical vagaries encountered by most green actors: Cocoon: The Return, Mr. Destiny, Blue Desert, Shaking the Tree, and The Opposite Sex and How To Live With Them passed with nary an honorable mention. The Bronson Pinchot series The Trouble With Larry, in which Cox succeeded in landing a role, was D.O.A., as was a pilot for a series called Sylvan in Paradise. Cox explains away the sluggishness of this period by saying that her relationship with Keaton was far more all-consuming than any thoughts of her career. But fame was to ferret out the reluctant actress nonetheless.

In 1994, after a modestly praiseworthy turn as Jim Carrey's girlfriend in the hit film Ace Ventura Pet Detective, the 30-year-old Cox landed the 20-something role of a lifetime as neat-freak Monica Geller on Friends. The show's producers originally envisioned her in Jennifer Aniston's role of Rachel, the pampered rich girl who gets a dose of working-class reality by taking a job as a java jerk, but Cox successfully lobbied for the tailor-made role of the fetchingly anal-retentive, culinary-minded Monica, a character as capable, sarcastic, and controlling as many claim her originator to be in her own life. From the moment of its debut in the fall of 1994, Friends (in case you've been living under a rock for the last few years, the show chronicles the mundanities of a six-pack of friends living in improbably large New York apartments) quickly became an out-and-out TV phenomenon, and the cast  Cox, Aniston, Lisa Kudrow,David Schwimmer,Matthew Perry, and Matt LeBlanc  just as quickly earned a reputation for their incorruptible esprit de corps. Cox, the only big name, relatively speaking, in the ensemble cast, fell naturally into the role of the take-charge, advice-spouting den mother to the others, both on and off the screen.

From all we've heard about Cox, we're to infer that she applies a fastidious, perfection-seeking zeal to all facets of her life: from her romantic relationships to removing stains to diagnosing engine trouble to refurbishing houses, her family, friends, and co-workers attest to her ability to tackle any task, to solve any problem. In other words, she makes Martha Stewart look like an incompetent layabout. Never one to sit idle, she has a notable compulsion to buy homes, renovate and redecorate them, and then sell them; she has already succeeded in selling several such labors-of-love at huge profit. Cox went a long way in debunking her neurotic-next-door image with her role as bitch-royale tabloid-style television reporter Gale Weathers in Wes Craven's horror flick Scream, and in its sequel, Scream 2.

On a more personal note, Cox married her Scream co-star, David Arquette, in June 1999.

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