Laughter is the best medicine.
That’s what Courteney Cox and her Cougar Town costars realized after the star separated from husband David Arquette last year, especially when lots of false dating rumors began swirling around – specifically linking Cox, 46, to costars Brian Van Holt and Josh Hopkins.
“I don’t think that [Josh and Brian] were quite used to it,” Cox told PEOPLE at “An Evening with Cougar Town,” a tribute to the show held by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences on Wednesday in L.A. “For sure, they weren’t used to it! And I’m kind of so used to hearing about my dating, I don’t care.”
Hopkins, who plays Cox’s love interest on the show, admitted he was blindsided by the sudden flurry of speculation, especially after he vacationed with Cox in St. Barts recently, but didn’t take it too seriously.
“It’s really been very easy to laugh off,” said Hopkins, 40. “She’s been in the limelight for so long she doesn’t think twice about it. She does not live her life in fear of what people might say.”
Van Holt, who plays Cox’s ex-husband, also quickly learned to take the rumors in stride. “Oh, you just laugh it off, I guess,” he said. “Don’t take it seriously and don’t listen.”
Teasing Each Other
Teasing from his castmates helped relieve any pressure, said Van Holt. “They’re always heckling. And I wonder: who’s next on the cast list?”
“I’m waiting for my turn!” joked costar Ian Gomez (who is married to actress Nia Vardalos in real life). “Apparently everyone else gets to date her!” But Gomez admitted he understands why the rumors started. “Hey, if I saw the two of them in St. Barts together I would assume the same thing,” he said. “But knowing them, I know that it’s ridiculous.”
Costar Busy Phillipps said she poked fun at the pair when the rumors surfaced. “I texted Josh when they were in St. Barts and I was like, ‘Will you stop dating Courteney, because it’s getting really awkward for the rest of us?’ ”
But that didn’t stop Cougar Town producer Bill Lawrence from cutting to the chase Wednesday night. He (jokingly) put Cox and Hopkins on the spot in front of the live audience, asking them point-blank if they were dating. “I want to!” said Cox. “But whatever. I tried. But he hasn t made any moves on me.”
On a serious note, Cox said that dating isn’t even on her agenda at the moment. “Not for me right now,” she says. “Not right this minute.”
But the star does say that the support of her coworkers has been invaluable since her split with Arquette. “I do lean on all of the people on the show,” she said. “Also I like to distract myself. During hard times it’s just also better sometimes just to work, and it’s great to do a comedy. Somehow it’s like they kind of go together. I got to step out of it and try to be funny.”