Style Sex & Relationships

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Scruffy love: the stars who can't say no to a bit of rough

Courteney Cox has just got engaged to an Irish rock musician. She is not the only A-lister to fall for the charms of a guitar-wielding bad boy. 
Why do actresses find a certain type of rocker irresistible?

Johnny McDaid and Courteney Cox
Johnny McDaid and Courteney Cox
Keira Knightley and her husband

Ed Power

There was widespread surprise - shock may not be too strong a word - when ex-Friends actress Courteney Cox announced her engagement to Johnny McDaid of the rock band Snow Patrol. She's one of the highest-paid stars in television, a glamorous stalwart of the A-list; he's a guitarist and keyboard player with an indie band, best described as a gloopier Coldplay. Forget Venus and Mars: these two look as if they belong in different universes.

Far from an anomaly, however, Cox hooking up with an alternative rock bit of rough - McDaid is consistently bestubbled in Snow Patrol photoshoots - must viewed in the context of a wider trend. Hollywood actresses cannot, it seems, keep their hands off glum-looking musicians from bands that many people have never heard of.

If Courteney Cox and Snow Patrol appearing in the same sentence strikes us as deeply curious - and it surely does - what are we to make of Keira Knightley, happily hitched to James Righton of the 'new rave' act Klaxons? How about Carey Mulligan, the prim English star who, in 2011, tied the knot with Marcus Mumford, Mumford and Sons' stoutly built frontman? What's with that?

We could go on. Mandy Moore, a singer and actress, is wedded to exceedingly tortured troubadour Ryan Adams; Kate Moss's other half is Jamie Hince of English rock duo The Kills. And let us not forget the pioneers of this trend: Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin of Coldplay.

Why the attraction? It has long been known that famous people tend to pair off with other famous people - who else but a fellow celeb can understand the trauma of being well-known and minted? But there must be something more to it, as these actresses and models seem to favor a specific type of musician: vaguely leftfield, not too well known, and - how to put this politely? - of a 'stylishly scruffy' aspect.

Maybe they are drawn to musicians because, compared to their Hollywood peers, they are relatively down to earth - certainly more in touch with reality than their movie cousins. No matter how big your band is, there's a certain spit and sawdust element to the job: you have to brave a tour-bus and endure an audience's cat-calls should things go wrong. Even if you're Mick Jagger or Bono, when singing for your supper, there is a limit to how cosseted from the real world you can be.

You also can't ignore the spell that rock and roll continues to cast. They may struggle to earn a living in a time of collapsed record sales, but rock stars remain the swaggering outlaws of the entertainment industry. You can't behave badly in Hollywood any more - not publicly at any rate. In contrast, musicians have licence to live on the edge - indeed, you might argue it's part of the job description. For actresses required to be squeaky clean at all moments, that is, surely, very alluring.

"Maybe we choose a partner with opposite qualities as we are drawn to the part of ourselves we are unable to express," says relationship counsellor Eithne Bacuzzi.

"If we are attracted to extroverts, it allows us to stay in the shadow and comfortably remain ourselves. If we have leadership qualities, we may be attracted to a person who is happy to allow us to take that role. Problems can arise when the dynamic changes [and] an almost unconscious agreement that has been made is thrown into disarray by one party dramatically changing. This is often a issue that ends up in the counseling room."

Perhaps it's just a coincidence that a glut of actresses are suddenly marrying rock stars - after all, people from wildly different backgrounds fall for one another all the time. Who can really say why Cox and McDaid tumbled head over heels for one another? The great thing about true love is that it's often a mystery.

"To be honest, I don't believe in types," says relationship expert Avril Mulcahy, when asked if actresses are predisposed towards dating musicians. "I don't believe dating opposites or those who are similar to you should make a difference. I've worked with so many clients at this stage and I can tell you, sometimes two opposites can work really well together and other times two people with similar personalities and interests can have instant chemistry and develop a meaningful relationship.

"Singles need to remember not to be so clouded by limiting phrases like 'opposite attract' or 'we all have a type'."

Irish Independent

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