Courteney Cox’s Best Movie & TV Roles Go Way Deeper Than Friends
From Monica Geller in Friends to Gale Weathers in the Scream franchise.
Courteney Cox rose to fame starring as Monica Geller in all eight seasons of NBC’s Friends, which is just as iconic today as when the sitcom first premiered in 1994. A protective friend and perfectionist chef, the role of Geller earned Cox decades-long praise from viewers as well as accolades from the People’s Choice Awards and the Screen Actors Guild. But the 57-year-old actor’s nearly 40-year-long career in Hollywood has included many other notable roles, from journalist Gale Weathers in the Scream franchise to divorcée Jules Cobb in Cougar Town.
Fresh off the success of 2022’s Scream sequel, which has grossed more than $135 million at the box office to date, Cox is currently gearing up for a leading role in Starz’s upcoming horror-comedy series Shining Vale, set to premiere March 6. She stars as Patricia “Pat” Phelps, a famous author of vulgar, empowering women’s novels who moves her family out of the city and into a small town after she’s seen having an extramarital affair. Nearly two decades sober, Patricia feels unfulfilled in her sexless marriage, disconnected from her kids, and unable to write another book. She soon realizes her house is haunted but brushes it off, thinking she’s either depressed or possessed — until her eery suspicions prove very real.
The series marks one of her greatest works to date, according to Cox, thanks to the similarities between her and Patricia’s lives. “Going through a midlife crisis — I understand that. Being at that stage in life where we don’t want to say the word ‘menopause,’ but that’s what she’s dealing with,” she recently told the Los Angeles Times. “And what it’s like to be a mom to a teenager — that it’s not easy. Some of the best acting moments of my whole career came from this show.”
If watching Shining Vale leaves you craving even more content from the actor, check out these eight other film and TV projects starring Cox.
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Michael J. Fox’s career took off with NBC’s Family Ties, a sitcom exploring the relationship between young Republican Alex P. Keaton and his ex-hippie parents amid the United States’ shift from ’60s and ’70s liberalism to more conservative-leaning ideologies in the 1980s. The show ran for seven seasons from 1982 to 1989 and earned Fox three Emmy awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. Marking her first sitcom role, Cox appeared in Seasons 6 and 7 of Family Ties as a recurring character named Lauren Miller, a college student studying psychology who dates Alex.
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
After appearing in several films throughout the ’80s and early ’90s, Cox scored her first leading part in a major blockbuster smash in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. The 1994 comedy stars Jim Carrey in its titular role, a wacky private investigator tasked by the NFL with finding the Miami Dolphins’ missing aquatic mascot following an abduction. Cox plays Dolphins representative Melissa Robinson, who works with Ace to solve the crime and endures many hilarious hi-jinks along the way.
The same year Ace Ventura hit theaters, Cox debuted her most iconic role as Monica Geller on NBC’s Friends, a sitcom about five close-knit confidantes living and dating in New York City. Cox starred alongside Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, and David Schwimmer, and the series earned 62 Emmy nominations during its decade-long run. The beloved sitcom has only received increased fanfare since it first aired thanks to success on streaming services, which prompted a full-cast reunion on HBO Max in 2021.
The Scream Franchise
Amid Cox’s time on Friends, she found time to foray into horror as the determined journalist Gale Weathers in Wes Craven’s Scream. Released in 1996, the film follows small-town teenager Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell) as her mother’s murder leads a mysterious killer to taunt her and her friends. Gale covers the story for a local news station, and Cox has since reprised the role in four sequels, which portray Gale writing books about the first film’s events and later working alongside Sydney to stop the murders.
After meeting on set, Cox and co-star David Arquette formed a romantic bond and married in 1999, before the release of Scream 3. Despite divorcing in 2013, the pair reunited for Scream (2022), the series’ fifth installment.
A couple of years after Friends concluded, Cox scored a leading role in FX’s Dirt as Lucy Spiller, the editor-in-chief of the titular glossy tabloid devoted to celebrity gossip. With strong ratings and a guest spot from Aniston as a rival magazine editor, Season 1 marked a promising start for the series, but Season 2 was plagued with production difficulties due to the 2007 Writer’s Guild of America strike, cut short after seven episodes, and eventually canceled. However, it’s still worth checking out on streaming, as Dirt has received retroactive praise from Cox’s fans and entertainment news obsessives alike.
Shortly after Dirt’s cancelation came Cox’s second-longest-running TV role as Jules Cobb, the lead character on Cougar Town. The sitcom ran for six seasons and followed the 40-something divorcée on her quest to reenter the dating game, accompanied by close friends Ellie Torres (Christa Miller) and Laurie Keller (Busy Philipps). Despite longtime backlash against its title, which didn’t accurately describe the series’ pivot to focus on the characters’ friendships after Season 1, Cougar Town netted Cox a Golden Globe nomination and Philipps a Critics’ Choice Award during its 102-episode run.
Cox only appeared in three total episodes of Kudrow’s Web Therapy, which first aired online before getting picked up as a TV series by Showtime in 2011, but the two Friends actors’ reunion is enough reason to include it on this list. Focused on the narcissistic Fiona Wallice (Kudrow) and her online therapy business, a brand-new concept at the time, the improvisational comedy series saw her treat many patients, including famous guest stars from Meryl Streep to Gwyneth Paltrow. Cox played Serena Duvall, a professional psychic Wallice reluctantly saw after claiming she doesn’t “really believe in that particular brand of fraud.”
Just Before I Go
After trying her hand at directing on Cougar Town and the Lifetime movie TalhotBlond, Cox made her feature film directorial debut with the 2014 black comedy-drama Just Before I Go. The film follows the depressed and recently divorced Ted Morgan (Seann William Scott) on his quest to wrap up some unfinished business in his life before attempting suicide, connecting with friends along the way who help shift his perspective. Cox doesn’t appear in the film, though her ex-husband Arquette does, but the entirety of Just Before I Go was created through her vision, so it’s an essential watch for any fan.