ELLE (May 97)

She was plucked from the crowd to dance whit Soringsteen. Now Courteney Cox Has reached sitcom superstardom in Friends and has a starring role ia a new movie. Jeff Dawson catches up whit her in LA.

Not wishing to greet my gorgeous lunch date whit guacamole all down my chin, I avoid tucking into the hearty fare at this little Mexican restaurant untill Courteney Cox arrives. Yet 15 minutes later. the burritos on the next table look seriously tempting, and still no sign of Courteney. Thirty minutes? Nada. Forty-five minutes? I’m extremly peckish. I Can only assume she’s caught in traffic. Or perhaps something came up. Whatever the case, I’d better find out, and as I wander into the sunshine in the plush LA suburb of Brentwood in search of a phone, I bump into a woman on the pavement in black polo-neck sweater and jeans. Mercy me, it is Ms Cox; but - but -she is clutching a polystyrene ’doggy bag’ , having just come out of the Italien restaurant right next door. I clock its name, La Scala, and a cold shock comes over me. I have been waiting in the wrong place - La Salsa - a situation that wouldn’t have occurrend had I been able to read my own handwriting. But my penmanship is the least of my worries: I have the dobious distinction of having just stood up one of the most desirable women in the world. ’That’s okay,’ chirps Cox, sweetly, as I construct the most elaborate excuse ever known to mankind. Cox - bless her - is more concerned that it was she who’d abandoned me. She has to run but agrees to meet me tomorrow instead. ’I’m sorry,’ I bleat. ’No,’ she smiles. ’I’m sorry.’ Courteney Cox, a Friend indeed. Yes sir. In her office in Beverly Hills, this time all in black (jeans, sweater and three-quarter-length leather jacket), Cox sprawls on a big squashy armchair and hooks her legs over the armrest. She’s looking a little ruddy of cheek, having just come back from a sun’n’ sangria holiday in Grand Caymen whit a girlfriend, a reward for the near-completion of the third season of Friends and a busy few months which has culminated in a huge hit for her film Scream, a very clever (and funny) horror flick which, to be frank, scared the shit of me. ’It scared the shit out of me,’ concurs Cox, who plays a TV reporter chasing down-hey! -a serial killer. ’And it’s the kind of character that’s nothing like Monica.’ It is, of course, as Monica Geller-Friends’ neat freak, chief whinger and neurotic icon for the 90s- that Courteney Cox has become known (beyond being Michael Keaton’s girlfriend, which she ceased to be 18 months ago). Her rise has been well charted, too-raised in the South (Birmingham, Alabama); modelled in New York; got her break as the Springsteen fan whom the Boss yanked out of the crowd to ’dance’ whit him in his 1984 Dancing in the Dark video-a gig the tomboyish teen won over lots of professional hoofers. ’I guess that’s what they were looking for, just a regular fan, and that’s what I was. I looked like a girl fron New Jersey, ’Cox explains, running her hand through her now-much-longer black locks. ’It didn’t get me any jobs, but it opened the door for me to go in and meet people.’ It certainly did, and over the years she has played diddy Michel J Fox’s girlfriend in the TV series Family Ties and featured in shows such as Seinfeld and The Lerry Sanders Show, as well as movies such as Cocoon: The Return and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. There is also a lesser-known footnote to history. While playing her trade in the world of TV commercials, Cox became the first person in the history of US television to utter the forbidden word ’period’, courtesy of the good folks at Tampax. ’It’s the only commercial I thought no one would ever see,’ she laughs, though such things soon paled into insignificance when she wound up on Friends (after initially auditioning for the part of Rachel), now vaunted as one of the most successful sitcoms of all time. The show is also distinguished by the fact that none of the lead characters, whit the exception of Ross and Rachel, seems to be getting any action. Odd for six young, attractive, closely quartered people who would, in real life, be going at like rabbits. Cox defends this. ’Let’s face it, we’ve all got problems. We don’t choose the right people, we’ve all got heng-ups. It’s hard in life anyway to find the right person.’ Okey so if Monica had to ’do’ another Friend, which would it be? ’Chendler,’ she declares, citing the Matthew Perry character’s similarly sarcastic bite. This reminds me of a recent rumour which had all the actors signing some kind of agreement that they wouldn’t sleep together. ’Ha ha, there’s no pact, there’s never been a pact,’ Cox guffaws. ’Hey, if two people on the show fell in love that’d be great, but I don’t think they would because we spend so much time together and you’ve got to have some kind of life outside the show. Some of us are in relationships, some of us aren’t.’ Including, as it happens, Courteney. ’No, I mean I go out on dates but I’m not in a relationship,’ she says, lighting up an unfathomable brand of cigarette from a gold and white packet that I have only ever seen celebrities smoke. ’Not that I get asked on many dates because you have to put yourself in situations where you get asked out.’ A little unusual, you’d have thought, given her quasi-goddess status in various men’s magazines, though Cox (or CC as her mates call her) doesn’t bye into all that world’s sexiest woman stuff. ’I dont have the highest-esteem when it comes to that,’ she says modestly. ’I think that sometimes in certain photographs, given the right hair and make-up and the right lighting I can look okay, but I don’t look at myself in a very healthy way.’ This hasen’t stopped the press from linking her to every ne’er-do-well that comes her way, such as actors Christian Slater and David Arquette, for example (’good friends’) and, most notably, Adam Duritz, the singer/songwriter of Counting Crows whit whom she was recently linked after a wonky tabloid shot showed them embracing at Los Angeles airport. Cox, claimed’an insider’ ,waved goodbye ’until he was out of sight’ ,a statement so profound that it surely guarantees there is nothing other then steamy sex going on between them. Yup, the press love it, especially as the very same bloke used to go out whit one Jennifer Aniston, now happily ensconced whit fellow thesp Tate Donovan. ’I’ve taken a thousand friends to the airport,’ says Courteney, tired of such paparazzi intrusion. ’Adam’s just a really good friend.’ Period. ’Totally single’ is how she affirms her status. ’Single doesn’t mean lonely because I’m definiely not lonely. It means kind of doing what you want to do, when you want to do it. I am actually enjoying being single. I’ve had a lot of growing up to do since my last relationship.’ That relationship was, of course, the aforementioned one whit Keaton, whit whom she went out for five years. Thirteen summers her senior (she’s now 32), he fitted into the perference she had for older blokes-reflected, per haps, in the Friends storyline whitch had Monica shacked up whit the venerable Tom Selleck. ’But that’s pushing it for Courteney,’ she laughs. ’ichel and I dated because he’s the coolest. If he was the same age as me, that would have been great, too.’ No, the world of love still eludes our Raven Queen, and though she’s keep to point out that she’s actually not like Monica at nall - save for being quite obsessive about plucking her eyebrows (’a girl thing’) - Mr Right, alas, has yet to flash his Colgate grin. ’I’m not saying I’m not going to be swept off my feet tomorrow,’ she coos. ’Because if you fall in love, you fall in love. But she confesses that instant head-over-heels thing has only ever happened to her once - 10 years ago - when she moved in overnight for a torrid two-year romance whit Paul, a bloke from.... Leeds. Leeds? ’I don’t know whether this applies to all Englishmen, but he was very open, very seneitive, and....’ She pauses. ’He made a hell of a Yorkshire pudding...’