How a surprise sleepover led to Ed Sheeran and Courteney Cox becoming best pals – despite the 26-year age difference

SHE is one of the most recognisable TV actresses of our time, he is one of the world’s best-selling music artists. 

So it wouldn't be a surprise if A’listers Courteney Cox and Ed Sheeran occasionally shared a red carpet or chatted over the mini burgers at a showbiz bash.

But the Friends star and the Shape of You singer have become firm, if rather unlikely, pals. 

Unlikely, because one lives a Hollywood life in a Los Angeles mansion, and the other ferociously guards his privacy at his sprawling country estate in Framlington, Suffolk, where he grew up. 

And there’s a 26-year age difference. 

So how come they're mates? Here we dive inside their friendship.

Duetting with Elton – and teasing Ed's next new song?

This week, though, Ed, 30, teamed up with Courteney, 56, and Elton John to sing a spoof version of Elton’s Tiny Dancer.

The video starts with Ed dedicating the song to Friends star Lisa Kudrow, whose character, Phoebe, once mistakenly thought the lyrics to the 1971 hit were, ‘Hold me closer, Tony Danza.’

A post shared by Courteney Cox (@courteneycoxofficial)

Grammy winner Brandi Carlile joins in on guitar, while Courteney plays piano. At the end, they give a shout-out for actor Danza and Courteney gives Elton a hug. 

Courteney called it “one of the greatest moments” of her life. 

Four days ago, Ed posted a short instrumental clip to Instagram, again with Courteney playing piano, and captioned it "25th June. "

Fans have taken it to mean the snippet is an intro to Ed’s next single and the date of release. 

If so, then choosing Courteney to tease the announcement points to their very special friendship.

A post shared by Ed Sheeran (@teddysphotos)

Recreating The Routine in hilarious vid

Last week, following the long awaited Friends Reunion TV special, the pair recreated “The Routine.”

Their version of the hilarious dance Courteney performed on the sitcom as Monica Geller, with her onscreen brother, Ross, has been viewed over 25 million times. 

Courteney tagged Ed in her Instagram caption, writing: “Just some routine dancing with a friend… @teddysphotos.”

Meanwhile, Ed’s post read: “Had a reunion of our own this weekend @courteneycoxofficial #theroutine#iknow #friends4eva#obviouslybetterthanross”

Surprise sleepovers

It’s clear Courteney and Ed are spending a lot of time together and it’s likely Ed is crashing at Courteney’s Malibu mansion. 

He once said: “Pretty much every time I go to LA now that's where I stay.”

In fact, Courtney and Ed’s friendship started when he stayed over at her plush pad.

In 2013, while Ed was performing in L.A, TV producer Bill Lawrence and his actress wife Christa Miller brought their daughter backstage to meet the singer. 

The following day, he ran into them again at a cafe. 

Ed recalled: “They said would I like to come to a party that night? It was at Courteney’s house.”

Courteney, who had recently divorced Scream actor David Arquette, had been working with Bill on her show Cougar Town. 

Ed ended up staying the night after the party, because he was staying “quite far out” and the car that dropped him off had left.

Paying his rent with cups of tea

The pair hit it off immediately and shortly afterwards, Ed moved in for three months to work on his second album, X.

He’s long been a fan of sofa surfing, without the burden of an entourage.  

She's the hostess with the mostess

And, conveniently, his producer, Rick Rubin, used to live next door to Courteney’s beachside Malibu home. 

Holed up in one of the guest cottages at the property, Ed could enjoy the swimming pool and tennis courts, as well as Courteney’s hospitality. 

Ed said: “With Courteney, you don't really ask. She's a Southern girl, pure Alabama, so she's very much the hostess with the mostess. 

“She's very warm and friendly, and wants to give to everyone. She lets people stay, cooks dinner, shows an interest in what they're doing. 

“'So it's not so much forcing yourself, or her asking you, you're just there.”

Despite being a multi-millionaire, Ed paid for his rent in cups of tea. 

He said: “I made the bed and cups of tea and things like that. If you’re staying at your friend’s house, you should treat it like your own.”

He did, however, return the favour.

In November 2013, he posted a picture of the two of them, along with a plea for fans to vote for Courteney at the People's Choice Awards.

Ed, now a dad-of-one, wrote: "My friend Courteney is nominated for a People Choice Award for favourite cable tv actress. She's never won one before and she lets me live in her beach house, so how's about we all vote for her and win her the damn thang eh? Safe."

His shout-out, together with another from One Direction's Harry Styles, did the trick and Courteney won the award.

Afterwards, she said: "It was really nice. Harry Styles tweeted for me and so did Ed Sheeran.

"He was so sweet to do it, and so was Ed."

Ed played matchmaker

Then in January 2014, Ed introduced Courteney to her now fiance, Snow Patrol rocker Johnny McDaid, who Ed had collaborated with. 

Courteney said: "The first time I kissed Johnny was when Ed Sheeran brought him over to my house one Sunday."

Ed, who is married to his childhood sweetheart Cherry Seaborn, has a slightly different recollection of how the couple got together.

He said: “I go out a lot – to meet people, hang out and bring my friends to house parties. This was one of those nights, and I brought Johnny along with me and introduced them. At the end of the night I went home, and he didn't. That was it.'"

Unofficial spokesperson

Two months later, it was Ed who updated the world about their relationship.

He said: “Not sure about having to buy a hat yet, who knows?

"I’ve never seen either of them happier. It’s great to see
people you love in love.”

Courteney and Irish Johnny, who is based in London, became engaged after six months, before splitting in late 2015, putting Ed out of a job organising the stag do. 

They reconciled in 2016. 

In 2018, Courteney and her daughter, Coco, now 16, were among the very select audience of just 400 at Ed’s gig at the London Irish Centre.

During the pandemic, Courteney and Johnny were apart for more than 200 days due to travel restrictions. 

Earlier this year, The Sun revealed that Ed and Johnny are launching an artistic business together called McShaid Ltd, which will likely focus on producing and writing music.

The source said: “Ed and Johnny are great friends, but this seems to suggest they are starting to focus their songwriting efforts together as a proper business as well as something they love.

“They’ve both had massive success independently and as a duo, so it makes sense to put things in place to properly handle that revenue.”

It’s not known when Courteney and Johnny now plan to get hitched. 

But when it comes to finding a wedding singer, they won’t have to look too far. 

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