Happy 50th birthday, Courteney Cox

If it’s not too trite to hail a skinny-arsed, multi-millionaire Hollywood film star as proof that life begins at 50, then hello Courteney Cox. And a happy birthday. By Alexa Baracaia

The former Friends star is the second of her Central Perk cohorts to hit the big five-oh, after co-star Lisa Kudrow, but she’s doing it in some style.

Not merely is she kickstarting her mid-century with a new, younger rock star boyfriend (who, rumours suggest, she plans to marry at a birthday bash at her Malibu mansion) but she’s just released her directorial movie debut, too.

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Even the Mail Online can’t bring itself to be mean to her

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OK, so her fella is more ‘rock star lite’ – we’re talking Johnny McDaid from Snow Patrol here (copyright: “Most boring band in Britain”) not Slayer.

And her directorial debut, Just Before I Go, was labelled a bit of a dud after premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival. (“A juvenile attempt to sandwich an abundance of big issues between half-baked humour,” said The Huffington Post. Ouchy.)

Failed rebranding in Cougar Town

But give the woman a break. She was never the It girl, but we sort of like that about her. She didn’t have the Hair or the Brad Pitt, but hair changes and Brad Pitt leaves you for Angelina Jolie.

Plus she always seemed really quite – how to put this? – nice.

Heck, even the ill-conceived attempt to rebrand her as a predatory older woman in TV’s worst-titled series Cougar Town fell flat, when, as co-creator Bill Lawrence recalls, “We realised very early on that this show didn’t have the right tone and feel for Courteney.

“Originally, I saw it as almost an American Ab Fab, but I realised that I didn’t love seeing Courteney in those situations. It’s not her persona.”

So what started with a decidedly iffy premise segued into a likeable, warm-hearted ensemble piece, for which Cox earned her first ever Golden Globe nomination. Friends plus 20, more or less. Her métier.

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Friends reunited: Matthew Perry guests on Cougar Town

Her split with husband of 11 years, actor David Arquette, was notable for the absence of any showbiz-style bitching, with the pair pulling off a model divorce for the sake of their now nine-year-old daughter Coco.

A celebitch-free divorce

They managed to make their fourth Scream movie together while the marriage limped through its last days, then posed happily together at the premiere, with Arquette effusing: “We had 15 years of a friendship and love with each other and a child together. She’s my best friend and I love her with all my heart.”

If that sounds like guff, remember they reportedly sashayed through their divorce without a pre-nup and without lawyers.

Meanwhile, if Twitter is the window to one’s soul, her handle might as well be @flowersandkittens. It’s marked out by patter about her “sweet” friends, her pals’ new projects, ice creams she’s eaten, fresh pasta she’s made, retweets for over-excited fans and not one single butt-baring selfie.

Even the Mail Online can’t bring itself to be mean to her, with winsome references to her “gracious” poses, “wide smiles” and “slim pins”. That’s more than Demi ever mustered, with those darned wilting knees of hers.

We even learn how to “get” Courteney’s arms (follow Courteney’s lead and break one; pump your way back to fitness by having Jennifer Aniston show you how to use a cross trainer).

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Courteney was just too darned nice to play a cougar

But we salute Ms Cox for better reasons than the fact that she has arms, and legs.

We salute her for some of the most classic TV sitcom moments of all time (never knock a slutty Fat Monica, people), for having a little bit of naughty behind the niceness (there’s got to be a twinkle to a lass who’s dated Michael Keaton, Arquette, Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz and iconic US music promoter Ian Copeland), and for being an architecture college drop-out who got her big break in a Bruce Springsteen vid – and has gone on to forge a top-notch TV and film career and a personal fortune of £45 million.

Courteney’s down-to-earth charm

We salute her because Just Before You Go isn’t an all-out dud: The Hollywood Reporter praised her “easy facility with actors”, eliciting “fine work from the large supporting cast” (that nice thing again).

We salute her for having a kid who is snapped running in the rain and slurping ice cream in tracksuit bottoms and sneakers, not teetering around town in mini-slingbacks and Saint Laurent.

We salute her for being honest about ageing: “[It’s] gonna be brutal… I think it’s hard, the fact that there’s a certain age that we can’t have kids any more.

“My doctor told me today that he just delivered a baby and the woman was 48.  That’s awesome, but it’s rare. It’s a miracle, you know?”.

And we salute her because her boyfriend says this: “Courteney is the most completely confident person I’ve ever met – at everything.

“She gets music. She gets art. She understands the way a scene is constructed, how dialogue works and she puts it all together in her mind and explains it to the world.

“And [she] makes me laugh and squirm and jump.”


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