The stunning transformation of Courteney Cox

Who doesn't know Courteney Cox? Even if you don't recognize her name, you definitely know her if you are one of the countless people who has seen her hit sitcom FriendsShe played one of the show's main characters, Monica Geller. The actress and model already had a substantial list of credits under her belt when the now-iconic show debuted in 1994, but she was catapulted to a completely different level of fame during her ten years on the series.

The role of Monica Geller on Friends might be the one that Cox is best known for, but this actress is far from a one-hit wonder. The star has accomplished quite a lot in her decades-long career, and she has no plans of slowing down any time soon. From her early years growing up in Birmingham, Ala. to becoming one of television's most recognizable faces, Courteney Cox has changed a lot over the years.

Courteney Cox grew up in a large family

Courteney Cox comes from quite a large family. She grew up in Birmingham, Ala. as the youngest of four children, and she also has nine step-siblings. "I'm family-minded," she told Dateline NBC in 2004. 

Her parents split up when she was 10 years old. Cox told The Guardian that their divorce was "the most impactful" memory of her childhood. Cox, who had always been close with her father, struggled to come to terms with the breakup and coped by rebelling against her mother. "You have to blame someone for the divorce, and I thought my dad was the most fun person in the world," the actress told People. "Looking back, I know those two didn't belong with each other forever."

Cox eventually came to terms with the split, though, and she maintains a close, loving relationship with both of her parents as an adult.

Courteney Cox originally planned to become an architect

It seems like Courteney Cox must have grown up on the stage, but, believe it or not, she didn't always have performance aspirations. There was a time when it was her dream to become an architect. In fact, this was the first career that the Friends star pursued. After high school, Cox went to Mount Vernon College to study architecture. She eventually decided to take a risk, though, dropping out of college to pursue her acting career, according to MSN.

Even though she abandoned her dreams of becoming an architect, Cox still retained an interest in home design. When renovating a home, she makes sure to oversee everything instead of leaving it in the hands of a hired professional. "I've been overseeing renovations of my homes for a long time, and I have strong opinions about what I want and why," she told Elle Decor in 2011.

Courteney Cox tried modeling before pivoting to acting

Before she was a world famous actress, Courteney Cox was a model, and she slowly worked her way up in the industry. Before becoming a sitcom star, Cox was in commercials, and she even made history in a 1984 Tampax commercial. "I'm the first girl to say the word 'period' on television," she told Dateline NBC. From there, she starred in Bruce Springsteen's music video for "Dancing in the Dark," which, according to her IMDb profile, was only her second acting credit. 

Competition for the music video was intense. When the director asked how much experience she had, Cox told People that she said, "Two days on As the World Turns, but I guarantee you can change that for me." 

The director did, indeed, change things for the budding actress. That music video led to more roles, including the films Down Twisted and Masters of the Universe and the series Misfits of Science. In 1987, Courteney Cox began an arc as the girlfriend of Michael J. Fox's character on Family Ties, firmly establishing her as a television star.

Courteney Cox pushed to be cast as Monica on Friends

It's hard to imagine anyone but Jennifer Aniston in the iconic role of Rachel Green on Friends, but the role was originally intended for Courteney Cox. It was Cox herself who insisted on being cast as Monica Geller instead of as Rachel Green. According to Cox, she and her Friends character have a lot in common, although they aren't exactly twins. "I'm very neat, but I'm not as clean as Monica," she told Elle. "I might be a little more surface neat. Monica is also very, very competitive and ... I don't think I am."

There was another aspect of Monica that Cox was drawn to. "I liked the fact that she was strong," she told Dateline NBC. "I liked the fact that she just wasn't, you know, your typical girl. I really thought I should be Monica. I really did."

On the podcast Off Camera with Sam Jones, Cox said that she simply "related more to Monica" so she pushed to be cast in the role, paving the way for Aniston to take on the part of Rachel instead.

Courteney Cox was the "mother" of the Friends cast

Much like Monica Geller was the "mom" of the Friends gang, keeping Ross, Chandler, Phoebe, Rachel, and Joey in line, Courteney Cox was considered to be the mother of the Friends cast. She became so widely known for her mothering that she actually got tired of being asked about it in interviews. "Please don't ask me what it's like to be the mother hen on Friends," she said in a 1997 interview with The Morning Call. "I hate that."

Two years earlier, in 1995, a People cover story revealed that the cast saw Courteney Cox as something of a leader, calling her, in the words of Jennifer Aniston, "the mother hen of the group."

Aniston told the magazine, "She's explained that we have to watch out for each other," noting, "She knew the pressures of being on a hit might drive us all apart."

Courteney Cox was one of the most beloved Scream Queens of the '90s

The world might know Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, but horror fans also remember her as one of the stars of the Scream franchise. While the genre of the Scream films is certainly a far cry from that of Friends, Cox's Scream character, Gale Weathers, isn't too far removed from Monica Geller. Both of the characters are strong and determined to do things their own way. Just as with the role of Monica, Cox had to fight for the Scream role which she played from 1996 to 2011 in the original film and its three sequels. "Wes [Craven] didn't know if I could be b****y enough," she told The Morning Call in 1997. "I said, 'Man, you don't know me.'"

The role changed how Hollywood viewed the actress and helped her break away from being typecast as the good girl. "Before Gale, I always heard, 'She's way too friendly,'" said Courteney Cox. "With movie roles, I got offered things like doctors and lawyers. The nice one. Now I'm getting scripts where I'm tough as nails. I like that."

Courteney Cox struggled with infertility

Courteney Cox is a doting mother today, but for years she struggled to get pregnant. Cox made no secret of her infertility struggles, and she has been quite candid with the press about what she went through. As she told Dateline NBC, Cox discovered she had a rare anti-body during her run on Friends that made carrying a baby to term difficult. "I decided to do in vitro and I did that twice," she said. "And then, give myself shots of heparin everyday — that's a blood thinner. Take a baby aspirin."

While going through all of this, Cox had to show up at the studio and be funny. "That was hard," she said. "Sometimes, like I remember one time I just had a miscarriage and Rachel was giving birth [on Friends]. It was like that same time. Oh my God, it was terrible having to be funny."

Courteney Cox eventually gave birth to a daughter, Coco, in 2004, shortly after the final season of Friends wrapped (via People).

Courteney Cox says she's a better actor post-Friends

Many people know Courteney Cox best from her role on Friends, but the beloved sitcom was far from the peak of her acting career. In fact, Cox thinks that she's an even better actress now, years after the show's final episode aired, and she's eager to show off her chops.

"I've had a nice career," she told Elle in 2015. "I've been lucky to have been on successful television series that have spanned for sixteen years. Sixteen solid years of television is a lot, but I have more roles to play. I'm not done yet. As I get older there's things that are more important to me now than they would have been then. I have more to draw from. I just feel like I'm a better actor. I feel more grounded and my emotions are more accessible than when I was younger."

Courteney Cox was a little lost after Cougar Town wrapped

Friends isn't the only major television show Courteney Cox is known for. She also famously starred on Cougar Town from 2009 to 2015, and she admitted that she didn't quite know what to do with herself after the show wrapped. "Having Cougar Town end is sad just because it's something consistent and I love the people I worked with," she told Elle in 2015. "But, truthfully, this is more depressing. Because now what? I don't have a series, but I also don't have a film that I'm passionate about." 

She added, "I'm getting a little anxious, but every time I read a script I'm surprised at how I just don't relate at all. I'm very specific."

Of course, this is Courteney Cox we are talking about, so it was clear she would land on her feet. According to IMDb, the actress followed up Cougar Town with spots on the television shows Barely Famous, Drunk History, and Shameless, and she appeared in the films Mothers and Daughters and Charity Case.

Courteney Cox put up her own money for her directing debut

In future years, it's possible that Courteney Cox's notoriety as a director may outweigh even her reputation as Monica Geller from Friends. The actress has branched into directing, and she isn't afraid to put her own money on the line to make her dreams come true. To fund her first feature film, 2015's Just Before I Go, Cox put up $1.5 million of her own money. That might not sound like a lot considering that Cox, according to Business Insider, was making $1 million per episode towards the end of her run on Friends, but it was still a risky investment. Cox felt that putting up her own money to fund the film was necessary.

"You really can't get a cast unless you have financing," Cox explained to the Los Angeles Times. "And you can't get financing unless you have a cast. It's hard to get people to believe you can do it."

Courteney Cox maintains a good relationship with her ex for the sake of their daughter

Courteney Cox and her husband, David Arquette, separated in 2010 and filed for divorce in 2012, after 13 years together. According to TMZ, the couple said that they remained "best friends" and that they were committed to raising their daughter, Coco, together. Their dedication to co-parenting has been admirable. "You don't want to go in one house and have anything split," Cox explained to People of her amicable divorce from Arquette. "You want it to be harmonious in both places." 

It's clear that Cox's relationship with her daughter wasn't hurt by the breakup. The two are very close, as Coco told the magazine. Cox added that she has learned a lot from her daughter. "She's taught me patience," she said. "Probably one of the biggest things she's taught me is to not take things personally, because really it's not about us. Whatever moods that she goes through where things happen, I'm the safest place to be able to take it out on. It's never about me, unless it's actually about me."

Courteney Cox doesn't feel the need to get married again

Courteney Cox has been with Snow Patrol musician Johnny McDaid since 2013. While they got engaged the next year, they later split up and then reconciled. Don't expect to hear wedding bells any time soon, though. Cox is still happy with her beau, but she's in no rush to walk down the aisle again, telling People Magazine in 2018 that the term "husband" is nothing but "a label."

"We're not married," said Cox. "I'm married in my heart."

McDaid agreed, saying that they don't have any need for a formal ceremony. "We have one every morning when we look at each other," he said. "My thoughts are never without Court. She's my best friend. She's my partner, in everything. When I write her poems, it's just an extension of how I feel every second anyway, and that's true for me."

This is why Courteney Cox stopped using fillers

Fans were quick to notice over the years that Courteney Cox's perpetually youthful face wasn't entirely natural. Cox made no secret of the fact that she was relying on cosmetic procedures to stay looking as young as she had in her Friends days, but, in 2019, she went public with her decision to not only stop having them done but also to dissolve all of her fillers, telling People she was "not a fan."

"I would say it's a common thing you go through as you age, especially in Hollywood," said the actress. "You have to accept getting older, and that's something that I had a hard time doing."

Courteney Cox added that she originally started getting fillers because she was unhappy with the way she looked, but that she didn't realize just how much they were altering her appearance. Now, however, she is embracing her natural beauty and is confident in how she looks. "I think I am at a stage of my life where it's very easy to be comfortable with who I am and who I've become and who I strive to be," she said.

Courteney Cox is still friends with her Friends co-stars

A lot of things may have changed in Courteney Cox's life over the years, but one thing has remained steady — her friendship with her Friends co-stars. The gang still gets together as often as they can. Fans went wild in October 2019, when Cox posted a selfie on Instagram with Friends co-stars Matt LeBlanc and Jennifer Aniston next to her. "A rare night and I love it," Cox captioned the photo. 

Not long after that, Jennifer Aniston appeared on The Howard Stern Show and confirmed that the core cast had all gotten together at Cox's place and had a blast together. "We laughed so hard," she said.

Courteney Cox isn't the most prolific Instagram user, but a quick look at her feed turns up plenty of pictures of her castmates, proving that she takes the "I'll be there for you" line from the Friends theme song pretty seriously.

Is there another Friends project in Courteney Cox's future?

While fans would no doubt love a Friends reboot, the chances of one happening are pretty slim. Rumors of a Friends revival have been shut down repeatedly, although Courteney Cox's co-star and on-screen BFF Jennifer Aniston has said everyone would love for one to happen, but they wouldn't want it to tarnish the show's reputation. "I really think there is an idea that if there is a reboot of the show, it won't be even close to as good as what it was, so, why do it?" she said on The Howard Stern Show in 2019. "It would ruin it."

That doesn't mean, however, that the cast of Friends won't get together for another project. Aniston followed up her Howard Stern appearance with an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show where she said (via E! News) that the Friends cast, including Courteney Cox, is definitely up to something.

"Listen, we would love for there to be something, but we don't know what that something is," said Aniston. "So, we're just trying. We're working on something."