Courteney Cox Shares Stories About Ghosts, Dancing With the Boss, and How She Met Her Man Thanks to Sacha Baron Cohen
TV and film icon sits down with Howard ahead of her new horror-comedy, “Shining Vale”March 3, 2022
One of Hollywood’s most beloved stars graced the Stern Show with her presence once again Wednesday morning as Courteney Cox sat down with Howard for a wide-ranging conversation which touched upon her humble beginnings in Alabama, an incredible film and television career, her inroads as a TV and music video director, and her decade-long romance with musician Johnny McCaid. Though best known for her enduring portrayal of Monica Geller on NBC’s “Friends,” the actress has also famously starred on “Family Ties,” “Cougar Town,” and in multiple “Scream” films. Her return to the Stern Show coincides with another eagerly anticipated project, the March 6 debut of her new series “Shining Vale.” Courteney stars opposite Greg Kinnear on the comedy-horror show, playing Pat—an adult romance novelist stuck in a rickety marriage living with evil spirits in a haunted house.
“I love the show. I love it. I get to play so many things,” Courteney told Howard. “I get to be [someone with] a dry sense of humor, a mom of a 17-year-old … going through menopause. She’s depressed, she is possessed, and no one believes her.”
“It is the most layered character I ever played,” the longtime TV icon added.
While “Shining Vale” is pure fiction, Courteney has come around to believing in ghosts and haunted houses in real life. She recounted several supernatural brushes, including one involving a séance and recording legend Carole King. The “I Feel the Earth Move” singer had once lived in Courteney’s house, which she fervently believed to be haunted. Cox herself wasn’t sure of it until a delivery guy rang her doorbell one day and confirmed something strange was afoot.
“I got my package. He said, ‘Did you know that this house is haunted?’ I said, ‘Really, why?’ He said, ‘Because there’s someone standing behind you,’” Cox remembered. “I said, ‘Oh shit.’ And that’s when I believed.”
Her latest supernatural fright came in London, while she was trying to fall asleep in bed next to McCaid. “I saw these really scary faces … I was like, ‘Mom? Dad? Auntie Em?’” Courteney told Howard, saying she woke up Johnny to let him know, but he wasn’t buying it. “He said, ‘You’re asleep.’ I said, ‘No! I just woke you up. How can I be asleep?’”
“I did see them for sure,” she continued before revealing how she exorcised those pesky spirits the very next day. “I said, ‘Thanks for visiting last night—that was fun—but do not come back tonight. I have to sleep.”
The spirits must’ve been listening because they never returned.
‘Dancing in the Dark’ With the Boss
Courteney’s skills on stage aren’t limited to her acting. She also famously danced in the 1985 music video for Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark,” in which she bops alongside the Boss on stage in front of thousands of cheering fans.
Though she loves Bruce and his hit song in equal measure, Courteney admitted she does get a little embarrassed watching the Brian De Palma-directed video. “Did you see my dance? It was pathetic. I’m not a bad dancer, but that was horrible,” she recalled. “I was so nervous.”
Explaining how the project came to be in the first place, Courteney recalled feeling like a fish out of water when she walked into a casting office filled with professional dancers. “I thought I walked into the wrong place,” she laughed. “I don’t know what they’re doing, but I can’t even bend my leg.”
In the end, however, her love of Bruce and relative inexperience as a dancer served her well. “I think that’s why I got [the job],” Cox concluded. “I think that’s what they wanted, a fan who just couldn’t believe it.”
The One Where Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher Play Matchmaker
Spirits aren’t the only ones who like to spend time at Courteney’s house. She told Howard she sometimes throws star-studded parties, going into detail about one with a guest list that included musicians Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift along with actresses Christa Miller, Isla Fisher, and Courteney’s former “Friends” co-star Jennifer Aniston.
“This is unbelievable. What a party,” Howard remarked.
“We all woke up the next morning, everybody had traded numbers, [said] ‘let’s stay in touch,’ and nobody asked me for my number,” Cox laughed. “I mean, this is worse than not getting nominated [for an Emmy].”
Though she didn’t score any digits, her infamous parties did allow her to meet her eventual partner, Snow Patrol musician Johnny McDaid. “I remember seeing Johnny and going, ‘Oh, wow. He’s really intense. He’s got the eyes, and he’s playing the piano,” Courteney said.
However, she didn’t tell Johnny how she was feeling. Instead, she told Fisher, who let Courteney’s feelings slip to her own husband, actor Sacha Baron Cohen. Sacha then took it upon himself to intervene on Courteney’s behalf.
“Sacha walks up [to Snow Patrol musicians McDaid and Gary Lightbody] and says, ‘Hey! Courteney wants to fuck one of you from Snow Patrol. And it’s not you, Gary,’” she recalled with a laugh.
Stern Show veteran Harry Styles was apparently there, too, and implored Johnny to ask her out. McDaid did as he was told, and his and Courteney’s romance started blossoming the very next day.
Growing More Comfortable in Her Own Skin
At 57 years old, Courteney told Howard she’s finally grown comfortable in her own skin. She came to the realization recently while chatting with elderly actors she was directing in a wine commercial.
“You ask people, ‘What do you like about getting older.’ [They say,] ‘Well, I know what I want.’ And it’s kind of true,” she said. “I’m just more comfortable in my skin.”
Courteney is so comfortable, in fact, she’s begun posting before-and-after makeup videos on Instagram. She’s open about her exercise regimen, too, which includes tennis, kickboxing, and even a little strength training. “I just got this incredible weight machine. I don’t know how to use it, but I still like to look at it and try,” she laughed.
“Shining Vale” debuts Sunday, March 6 on Starz.