The story behind Courteney Cox’s big break in an iconic Bruce Springsteen music video

8 April 2022, 14:10 | Updated: 14 April 2022, 11:52

Courteney Cox got her big break in an iconic Bruce Springsteen music video
Courteney Cox got her big break in an iconic Bruce Springsteen music video. Picture: Paul Natkin/WireImage/Columbia

By Thomas Curtis-Horsfall

It’s been nearly 40 years since ‘Dancing In The Dark’ came out.

By that time Bruce Springsteen was already an established rock icon, filling up arenas around the world with his trademark anthems like ‘Born To Run’ and ‘Hungry Heart’.

But aided with the advent of MTV and the music video directed by legendary filmmaker Brian De Palma, ‘The Boss’ saw his career go into the stratosphere in 1984.

Since its release, ‘Dancing In The Dark’ has become one of the most iconic music videos of the era, mostly because of the famous scene when Bruce pulls an adoring fan on to the stage to dance with him.

It would also launch the career of one Hollywood starlet, who was the girl Springsteen invited from the crowd.

Almost completely unknown at the time, Courteney Cox would go on to become one of the most recognised faces in film and television.

So what’s the story behind it? Here’s all you need to know:

Bruce Springsteen - Dancing In the Dark (Official Video)

How did Courteney Cox get the part?

In a recent interview, Courteney Cox admitted to being a huge Bruce Springsteen fan so decided to audition when she found out there was an opportunity to dance with The Boss on stage. Although she admitted to not even being able to dance under the pressure.

She reflected on the audition, saying: “I thought I was in the wrong place. I was like, ‘I don’t know what they’re doing but I can’t even bend my leg. This is it.’”

“I went into on Brian De Palma’s office. He put on the music and said, ‘Well, you dance.’ And I thought, ‘Right now? Here? In front of you? Just the two of us?’”

“I think that’s why I got it because I was like, Okay!’ I think that’s what they wanted, a fan that just couldn’t believe it.”

Did Bruce Springsteen know she was an actress?

Filmed in St. Paul, Minnesota during the opening night concert of the ‘Born in the USA’ tour in 1984, Springsteen was told to pick a fan from the crowd during the shoot.

He believed Cox was a fan and was luckily picked to feature on stage, having no idea that she was in fact a plant.

At the time nobody did, because she was a complete unknown.

But her sheer delight at being able to dance on stage with one of her heroes was convincing enough.

Courteney Cox is now one of the most recognised faces in TV and film
Courteney Cox is now one of the most recognised faces in TV and film. Picture: Getty Images

Did it help Courtney Cox get her big break?

Given the song’s huge success, it definitely got the 20-year old Courteney Cox noticed.

Not long after she would secure a recurring role alongside Michael J. Fox in Family Ties as well as the fantasy adventure film Masters Of The Universe.

It was a full decade before Cox became a household name however, after being cast as Monica Gellar in the iconic sitcom Friends in 1994.

What does Courteney Cox say about it now?

Courteney Cox was asked by Howard Stern in a recent interview how she felt about the experience and how it helped kick start her acting career.

Cox said: ““Bruce Springsteen is such an amazing… God, he’s so incredible. I love that song.”

Though she was a little more critical of her dancing, whilst being watched by thousands of Bruce Springsteen fans.

She told Stern: “I get a little embarrassed because I do feel like when I watch the video, when I see it…I mean, God. Did you see my dance? It was pathetic. I’m not a bad dancer, but that was horrible. I was so nervous.”

Courteney Cox Remembers Her Audition for Bruce Springsteen’s Music Video

How influential was the music video for ‘Dancing In The Dark’?

The song itself is a timeless classic, a roaring anthem about the necessary release you get from dancing, anywhere or anytime.

It’s since been covered by a long list of artists including John Legend, Taylor Swift, Tina Turner, James Blunt, even Kermit the Frog!

But the moment Bruce pulled Courteney on stage is what everyone associates the song with

In what is now a concert staple, every time he performs ‘Dancing In The Dark’ live The Boss chooses someone random from the crowd to come and dance with him, adding an altogether different element of excitement to his shows.

The legendary dance Bruce and Courteney did together continues to resonate still.

Years later, Alfonso Ribiero (Carlton from classic Will Smith-starring 90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) hilariously paid homage to the famous scene during his routine on Dancing With The Stars in 2014, proving that we’re all still engrossed by the signature moves.