‘Friends’ is a popular sitcom that propelled its main cast to international fame when it first aired from the ’90s to the ’00s. One of the show’s breakout stars was Courteney Cox, who portrayed Monica Geller on the series. However, her role in “Friends” was almost entirely different. As Mental Floss wrote in 2017, Cox was first asked to play Rachel Green before Jennifer Aniston scored the role. Cox reportedly preferred Monica to be a “strong” character, which led to her saying no to playing Rachel and taking that role instead.
When she sat down for an interview with Off Camera with Sam Jones in 2017, Cox opened up about her path to Friends. The actress studied acting and modeling in New York City for a while, then went to college in Washington, DC for a year before returning to New York over the summer after her freshman year. During this time, she earned a few acting gigs and subsequently chose to continue acting rather than attend school. “I was supposed to be going back to college and I was just like, ‘I can always go to college … I’m going to do this ride,'” she said. After a string of film and television credits, Cox eventually found herself starring in Friends.
Courteney Cox played many film and television roles before Friends aired
Prior to her career-defining role as Monica Geller, Courteney Cox landed numerous roles in smaller television shows and films, per IMDb. She had an appearance in Bruce Springsteen’s music video for “Dancing in the Dark” in 1984, playing a fan who danced with Springsteen on stage. A few films that Cox starred in in the late ’80s and early ’90s were Roxanne: The Prize Pulitzer, Blue Desert, and the cult hit Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. In terms of her television roles, Cox was a regular on the ’80s series Misfits of Science, appeared in 19 episodes of Family Ties as Lauren Miller, the mistress of the Michael J. Fox character, and starred in the short-lived 1993 comedy series film The Trouble with Larry.
Although the last gig only lasted seven episodes in total, things ultimately went in Cox’s favor. The actor later realized how playing the character Gabriella Easden on the sitcom led to her being considered for a role on Friends. “No one had ever seen me like this. I was mean and I was the funny one, and that’s why I was recommended for ‘Friends,'” Cox later said, per the Mirror. Friends’ popularity then skyrocketed, and Cox went on to land other notable Hollywood roles, which she continues to play to this day.
The success of Courteney Cox after Friends
When “Friends” aired on NBC in the mid-’90s, Courteney Cox and her collaborators quickly became household names. As noted by Express, the show debuted to 22 million viewers and the series finale gathered over 50 million viewers. In a 2004 interview with journalist Barbara Walters, Cox expressed her belief that the show’s success was due to the bond between the “Friends” actors, in addition to the fact that it has gifted crew members. “I think we have an amazing group of writers. And there’s a cast that really sticks together,” said Cox.
Since playing Monica Geller on the sitcom, which ended in 2004, Cox’s career has continued to thrive with several notable roles. While “Friends” was still on the air, she portrayed Gale Weathers in the “Scream” franchise. She has now appeared in a total of five “Scream” films and will return for a sixth part, which will be released in 2023.
Cox has also had television success after Friends with popular shows such as Cougar Town and more recently The Shining Vale. During a Variety interview in 2022, Cox explained that she often finds the sitcoms she serves “not challenging enough or… just not that fun anymore,” but “Shining Vale” is a project she’s been into from the start positively opposed. Fans of Cox’s work can look forward to more of her on the horror comedy show as it was renewed for a second season by the deadline in March.