Best Friend

[from Ladies Home Journal, 1/96]

Behind the wheel of her sporty, silver Porsche, Courteney Cox makes an illegal U-turn and pulls into a spot right in front of Elgant Nail, a walk-in salon near her Santa Monica, California, home. Still sweaty from her yoga workout, Cox, who is wearing a clingy black top, black biking shorts and lavender Birkenstock-style sandals, skulks in, plops down and assumes the position for a $12 manicure-pedicure. Eyeing Cox carefully, the patron next to her says, "You look like that girl," "Yhah," she answers with a laugh, "I hear that all the time!" "Wye, are you the girl from Friends?" asks the woman suspiciously. "Yes, actually I an," the actress answers, smiling. Without saying another word, the woman turns away. "See," says Cox, lowering her voice. "she says I look like her. Without all the makeup, I'm disappointing." Hardly. It's true that professional makeup, done hair and a stylish (as opposed to sweaty) ensemble does this thirty-one year-old actress more, well, drama. But the beauty from the hit sitcom Friends and the cover girl of People magazine's 1995 issue of the "50 Most Beautiful People in the World" is certainly no slouch. Her Siberian husky-blue eyes, shoe polish-black hair and toothy white smile sparkle despite Cox's everyday grunge-chic. But then again, looks can deceive. Though she may seem to have it all a top-rated TV show, ablossoming movie career, not mention looks galore-Cox could be the most compulsive, yet endearing, woman on prime time. As afternoon light streams through the window into her white -on-white, not-a-pillow-out-of-place living room, Cox sits with a portable phone in one hand and a baby monitor in the other. A baby monitor? "It's so I can hear the answering machine upstairs," she explains quickly, the nervous energy audible in her voice. "My friend is going to be calling from a job interview." Glancing at the monitor, she adds, "But I do have a couple of friends who literally call me "Mama."" No wounder: Like her neat-freak, over-achieving, mom-to-the-gang Friends character, Monica, Cox is not only obsessively organized but a maternal friend to the end. Those self-reliant tendencied formed early. Courteney Bass Cox grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, the fourth child of a housewife and a contract. Her parents, who divorced when she was ten, both remarried spouses whit several kids. "i'm the youngest of all thirteen," says Cox, who lived with her mom. (Dad moved to Florida.) "It was an adjustment. But I love the fact that I have a big family." Her work ethic was instilled early, too. By thirteen, she was earning her own money through a variety of odd jobs, including working at a pool-supplies store. "There wasn't much money in my family, anyway, and then (after the divorce) things got worse. "she says. Her father, she recalls, owned a small airplane, even when there wasn't enough money to pay the bills. "My father is the kind of man who would rather have fun, then worry about the bills later. That's probably wye my parents got divorced," she says. "I don't think that was security for my mother, and she is completely (His) opposite-she's conservative. So I'm in the between. I'm very spontaneous, but I'm conervative about saving," A perfect illustration of this is Cox's unusual but lucrative "hobby" of buying, renovating and then selling houses, a vocation that has sustained her during the leaner times in her career. Looking around her French country-style home, it's hard to imagine Cox letting go of a place she has worked so hard to perfect. But she is curiously unsentimental; in fact, she is eager to get this, her fourth house on the market. "I move all the time, which is like my father," she says. But like her mother she is careful to always make a profit. The Santa Monica digs are far cry from the cramped apartments Cox shared when she moved to New York City at eighteen to try modeling and acting. Her first big break came when Brian De Palma cast her in Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" video in 1984.

For the audition, de Palma asked Cox to dance-a problem, since, Cox says, she didn't know how. "You know that look in the video when I put my hand toward my head like Oh, I can't believe I'm here?" she asks. "Well, that's what I did in the office. I was just so embarrassed." Cox's next coup was in the late 1980s starring opposite Michael J. Fox in the sitcom Family Ties. The actress recently cought a glimpse of herself on a Ties rerun. "I thought, this is horrible! I didn't know what I was doing," she says. "And I can't believe I was that heavy. I was bigger the him!"

When the series ended, she set her sights on a career in film. "When I should have done was another television series to get more experience," she admits. "instead I had to start nowhere in films and work my way up." While she seemed to disappear from sight for years, she was actually working continually-just not on anything that was getting her noticed. The came a surprise: the 1994 box-office smash Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Considering the movies's phenomenal success, isn't Cox who played Ace's girlfriend, Melanie, disappointed that she wasn't cast in November's sequel, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls? "Jim considers his character a James Bond type who has a different woman in every single cast," she explains. "We'd laugh. I'd say, "James Bond does not look like you, all right? James Bond does not have a pompadour. You ought to feel lucky that you had me and keep me along!" All joking aside, Cox doesn't feel the role would have furthered her career much, anyway. "If you look at a movie and there's Jim Carrey, I don't care Who's next to him; you are going to be looking at Jim Carrey." She may have lost out on the Ventura reprise, but Cox did just sign on to star in Commandments, a black comedy starring Aidan Quinn that will be out later this year. Since the movie is shooting in New York City and Friends is filmed in Los Angeles, she most travel east evey weekend and hiatus . "I'm a little worried about that. I need eight hours of sleep, and if I don't get it, I break out as if I were thirteen," she says, sliding her grandmother's antique diamond rig on her off different fingers. In fact, Cox is so nervous lately that she's been waking up at four A.M. and then struggling to fall back to sleep. "I think too much. I just plan and wounder, How is it all going to work? And it's things that I can't do anything about at that hour, so I just keep saying, "Courteney, forget it," "she says, her brow forrowed. "I wish that worked, but it doesn't." One thing that Cox can do in her sleep is playing her Friends character, control-freak Monica. "I am Monica. I moved to New York when I turned eighteen. I take care of myself and I always have." In fact, the ever-responsible Monica has become increasingly more like Cox as the show has progressed. "I am very sarcastic, and a lot of my humor does come from anger. They've added that in," she explains. "I'm also very direct, so they've made Monica a little more so." Although it sound too trite to be true, Cox and her cast-mates actually are friends. They eat lunch together on the set and sometimes gather to watch the show on Thursday nights. "Last season we would watch it here or at Jennifer's," she says. "But now everybody has a new houses, so it will be a fight as to where we go." Still, don't cast members ever feel a twinge of envy when someone else gets a break? "I think that there is enough for everybody. You just put the blinders on and do your own work. It looks like Dave Schwimmer s going to direct a comedy this summer. That's fantastic. And magazine covers, maybe that's one of the things I've been doing more of." Speaking of magazines, what was it like to land on the "50 Most Beautiful People" cover? "It feels great, but it's a little bit of pressure, like... oh, now I've got to put makeup on when I go out," says the actress, who is not wearing even a slick of lip balm. "I got owe it. You know, I'm just too tired to put makeup on, and I don't blow-dry my hair." Lately, Cox has been taking "tons of vitamins to make my hair grow" after it had to be cut for a story line, much to her chagrin. "But I definitely felt the need to look decent for a couple of weeks after the magazine came out." Does she feel beautiful? "No, I don't. When the makeup artist and the hairstylist both work on me, I can look decent. but right now, if I walked by a mirror, I'd go "Oh my gosh-dog!" says Cox, who is actually beginning to blush. "I do like my eyes," she concedes, "if they have makeup on them." As she's quickly learned, having all the world's eyes focused on her own baby blues does have its price: These days she is the subject of much speculation. One reported rumor is that Cox has become anorexic. Although she does have a petite and exceptionally lean frame, her sculpted muscles say otherwise. So does her light-but-constant snacking on tortilla chips, olives and homemade bread pudding that was brought in by a crew member one day on Friends set. "Anorexic?" she laughs "My weight is actually up right now! I'm five-feetfive and I weigh 110, and I do go up and down. But I would never throw up my food-that I promise you-and I would never take a laxative." Cox thinks the rumor may have started because of her snacking on the set, most often sweets from a container labeled Courteney's Candy Cabinet. "someone must have said they see me eat candy all the time, but I'm thin. But that's only in spurts," she says. "I know what to eat and I know how to eat. If I eat pasta for dinner, I gain weight; id I eat protein for dinner, I lose weight." Another romer reported by the tabloids was that Cox and Michael Keaton, her boyfriend of six years, got engaged. But at the time the piece was published, the couple had actually broken up (they later reunited). Cox, who usually refuses to discuss her personal life, is surprisingly candid. "We really do need to make a decision about that to do. It's tough," she says, sighing. "Our lifestyles are very different. It really seems like they should be the same, because we're both in the same business, but it's not. Part of it is that he's got a kid (twelve-year-old son, Sean) and we just have different personalities. I don't want to tell too much about him because he's a very private person, but I'm very impulsive, and he's not quite as impulsive as I am about making decisions." Does she feel pressured by the ticking of her biological clock? "I want to have a kid before they stik that big needle in my stomach," she says. "When my friends tell me about their amniocentesis test and they talk about their needle, I just can't even imagine it! So for no other reason then that needle, I want to have a kid before I'm thirty-five." Is Keaton open to having more Children? "Yeah," she says cautiously. "But I don't know that we're going to do this together. As we sit here today, I honestly don't know what will happen by the time this magazine comes out. I do believe in karma and wye I was attracted to him and not another person. You could put fifteen gies in a room, and I would go straight to him." (As LHJ went to press, Cox told us, "Michael and I are taking a break, but like any relationship, you never know...") Despite there tough times, Cox says she has always found Keaton irresistible "I don't laugh that much, and he makes me laugh," She says soberly. "I used to get worried. In high school, I used to think that there was somethings wrong whit me. Everyone would laugh out loud over things. I don't know how to laugh over things." An ironic admission from an actress who stars on one of the funniest sitcoms on TV. "Thank goodness I work whit such funny people, because I do laugh a lot at work. But I'm very particular. I just don't think everything's that funny." High on her not-for-laughs list is regimen she's been dreading all day: Pilates, a strenuous stretching and sterngthening exercise that is a modified form of yoga. Her instructor, David, stands by in her attic as she heads toward her wooden Pilates table, a sort of New Age rack, "There is something called a "Pilates Butt." If you do it right, you get a great butt. I've never had any butt," says Cox, stopping to put her hands on her lips and offer a side view."This is not a big butt, but for for me, it's gargantuan!" What's more noticeable is the heart-and-rose tattoo on her lower leg. "Oh, you're not supposed to see that!" she says, trying to cover the spot whit her other foot. "I'm getting it removed. See, I told you I'm impulsive and then conservative." Lying on her back with her knees bent, she aqueezes her trademark blue eyes shot. As David murmurs instructions, his pupil slowly, arduously uses different muscles to slide her body back and forth on the table. Her legs tremble and beads of sweat start to appear on her brow as she used all of her mental and physical energy to move the desired few inches. Surely, this self-imposed discipline must be the hardest part of her day? "No," she says, exhaling quickly. "The hardest thing that I do is shut my mind off so I can go to sleep."

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