At one point or another, you've probably heard someone say that the best romantic relationships begin as friendships. But what about friendships that manifested from a would-be romantic relationship? Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen's friendship timeline is proof that some of the most beautiful friendships can come from something that was originally intended to be anything by platonic. Whether it's their playful banter or being there for each when they need support the most, Cooper and Cohen's friendship is unmatched.
In the '90s, Cooper and Cohen were set up on a blind date by a mutual friend. "You know when straight people know two gay guys, they're like, 'Oh, you two should meet,'" Cooper said, alongside Cohen, on an episode of the The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. At the time, Cooper was a young reporter at ABC, and Cohen was at CBS. Almost immediately after hopping on the phone to plan their blind date, Cooper decided he didn't want to go out with Cohen.
"I knew within 45 seconds, I was never going on a date with Andy Cohen," Cooper told Fallon, as Cohen made faces and shrugged his shoulders on the couch next to his long-time friend. "I imagined him in like a bluetooth headset, gesticulating. He was all excited, and he violated my cardinal rule, which is he asked me about my mom within the first minute of talking to me." Then Cohen chimed in, "I wanted to date the Vanderbilt boy! I was excited."
Mid-laughter, Fallon asked Cohen if he remembered the call that way, and he responded, "I remember that something that I did made him shut down, so now I know." Then Cooper added, "It wasn't even a question. It was just, 'Your mother is Gloria Vanderbilt,' and I was like, 'OK, yeah, this is not happening.'" They said they never went on a date, but it worked out for the best, because more than 20 years later they're the best of friends.
After that initial, seemingly ill-father phone call, the two started running into each other at the Roxy, Cohen told The New York Times, adding that Cooper would be "dancing around," to which the CNN anchor responded, "I wouldn't be dancing around. I was like, that's the guy who said 'your mom is Gloria Vanderbilt.'"
Cooper and Cohen were both friends with Barry Diller and wound up in a group of his friends that would travel around the world together. The group consisted of Diane von Furstenberg, Billie Lourd, and Sandy Gallin, the men told The Times. "I remember going up some waterway in a slow-moving boat, talking to you, sort of entranced. Andy, even before he was on TV, was the life of the party," Cooper said.
— Anderson Cooper (@andersoncooper) November 14, 2016
"I thought he was a little standoffish," Cohen said about Cooper on that trip. "But I liked making him laugh. That was my goal: Maybe I can crack this guy up, and that's where we can come together." One of the things Cohen did to make Cooper laugh was a dance to "She's a Maniac" from Flashdance that Cooper said made him "giggle uncontrollably," adding that he remembers that instance being the first time he considered Cohen was funny.
After that trip, when the men weren't traveling together with their small group of friends, they would have dinner occasionally or see each other at the same party. In 2005, they both had shows every night and weren't able to hang out as much, but they did travel to Croatia together. Then, the Hurricane Katrina forecasts starting pouring in.
"I turned to Andy and said, 'I gotta go,' and, Andy, as a newsman, what was it you said?" Cooper asked his best friend. "I said: 'This is ridiculous. They just want you outside at some rainstorm so they can get ratings.'" Cooper was on the next flight out, cutting their trip short. "Pretty much every vacation we've ever been on I've left early because of some story popping up," Cooper told Entertainment Weekly. "He always has to leave early, and I hate it. And we were having the best time!" Cohen added.
Why is @bravoandy grooming me like a chimp? This weekend our #SanFrancisco AC2 show is sold out, but still some tickets available for Saturday, Dec 1 in #LosAngeles! We are sooo excited for both shows! Come see us live @dolbytheatre. Tickets at ac2live.com
A post shared by andersoncooper (@andersoncooper) on Nov 27, 2018 at 12:02pm PST
While the two friends are constantly engaging in playful banter, they're also there for each other in more serious, substantial ways. Cooper told The Times he didn't think Cohen got enough credit for being an openly gay man in the media industry since the very beginning of his career. Cooper said that he was out at work and at the Roxy but didn't discuss his sexuality publicly when the two men initially met.
"He never asked me for advice, but we did talk about it," Cohen told the publication, and Cooper added, "I don’t think there's anything I've not discussed with him. It's nice to have someone who pokes fun at you. If I'm in a dangerous place, he'll text me something funny." Cohen admitted he would get worried when Cooper was sent on assignment. "When he's like, 'I'm on my way to Egypt.' I’m like: 'Are you kidding me? When are you coming home?'" the Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen host said.
Based on their interviews and social media exchanges, the two seem to be opposites in many respects. Cohen is the life of the party, while Cooper is an introvert. Cohen is aloof at times, while Cooper is meticulous about everything. On a trip they took to Brazil in 2012, Cooper said he booked the hotel rooms and flights for he, his partner, one of their friends, and Cohen. The one thing he asked his best friend to do was check the bags in.
A post shared by Andy Cohen (@bravoandy) on Jan 1, 2020 at 8:00am PST
"I lost Anderson's luggage. It was terrible," Cohen told The Times. "That was the first time I've ever gotten angry at Andy," Cooper added. "And when I get angry, I get silent." He was a "prickly ice-cold monster," Cohen chimed in. "You have to navigate his moods. I know exactly when to stop talking to him." Cooper echoed that sentiment, explaining that they're both sensitive to reading people's emotions, and he knows instantly when Cohen's lost interest in a conversation.
Even though they're far from similar, the pair's friendship found way to blossom via their worldwide travels. "Look, you know people when you travel with them. It's intimate," Cohen told The Times. In the interview with Entertainment Weekly, he elaborated on their trips a little more. "Really the way we became friends is he and I have been around the world and back together," Cohen told the publication.
When Cohen's second book came out, he asked Cooper to interview him at the 92nd Street Y to promote it, Cooper told The Times. "My agent was in the crowd, and she was like, 'You guys should take this on the road,'" he explained. "We looked at each other, and, immediately, were like, 'Oh, my God, we can travel the country together,'" Cohen said. So, they jumped on the idea, and thus, AC^2 Live was born. Once a month for two nights, Cooper and Cohen go on tour and essentially host a live talk show for their audiences in theaters across the country. "The nice thing about this tour is that it's been a nice opportunity for us to put a weekend in the books once a month and go spend a weekend together," Cohen told EW.
A post shared by andersoncooper (@andersoncooper) on Apr 28, 2017 at 1:47pm PDT
Before one of AC^2's shows in Denver in 2017, Cooper spoke to The Denver Post's The Know and explained that he and Cohen tried to create an intimate and interactive conversation with the audience at each show. "A lot of people come up and say, 'I’d love to go out for a drink with you," he told the publication. "And that's really what this show is: a peek behind culture and world events. It’s not a speaking engagement. It's an entertaining night of stories from two people who have covered the world, from presidential debates to behind-the-scenes of the Real Housewives."
In the interview, Cooper revealed that he's exhausted after every show because he's an introvert by nature, and for two hours he has to put himself out there in ways he's not used to or comfortable with. "I go into hibernation for days afterward," he said. "I'm sort of grumpy when I travel, but Andy likes doing the show because it's like hanging out with the best of me for two hours." He added that one of the things that he thinks makes he and Cohen click so well is that their TV personalities match their offscreen ones pretty well, and Cohen is just so genuinely enthusiastic and positive about everything.
"We've gotten much closer since I've had the talk show, and since we've been on tour together," Cohen told USA Today in 2019. "I mean we've been friends for 25 years. He's just an incredibly loyal and caring and sensitive and great friend."
Happy Birthday @bravoandy! So proud of you, and all the amazing things you’ve done since we first met 26 years ago! Come see Andy and me in #Charlotte 6/15 or #Orlando 6/16 or #LasVegas 10/26. Tickets at AC2Live.com
A post shared by andersoncooper (@andersoncooper) on Jun 2, 2018 at 9:45am PDT
Cooper and Cohen's relationship extends way beyond a professional one. In some of their hardest personal moments, they've been there for each other. When Cooper's mom, Gloria Vanderbilt, died in June 2019, Cohen paid tribute to her on his Instagram, sharing that she was an amazing woman who remained optimistic even in the bleakest moments of her life. When Cohen was recovering from coronavirus in April 2020, he posted a picture of Cooper biking by his New York City apartment to let his best friend know that he wasn't alone, all while maintaining his distance.
That same month, Cooper's son Wyatt was born via surrogate, a little over a year after Cohen's son Ben was born. Since the two friends were still social distancing, their boys couldn't meet in person, so they met virtually during a special Father's Day episode of Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. "I thought it would be fun if they met right now," Cohen said during the episode. "Oh my god, Wyatt looks like a mini-you, Anderson," later adding, "he's got those eyes, he's got those peepers, Anderson." Cohen then introduced his son to Wyatt, saying, "Ben this is Wyatt Cooper, he's going to be your good buddy. If you like him half as much as I like his daddy, you're going to be great friends."
In September 2020, Cohen posted two shirtless pictures of Cooper, joking in the caption that any other year, he and Cooper would be on vacation, and he would be threatening to post shirtless pictures of Cooper. "Well, it's 2020 and I'm sitting on my deck so I figured I'd just post without asking and piss him off!" he ended the caption with, #SilverFox. In true Cooper-Cohen fashion, Cooper responded, vowing to seek revenge on his best friend. "I don't know how. I don't know when. But I will get @bravoandy back for all this," Cooper posted on his Instagram Story at the time, PEOPLE reported.
Cooper and Cohen have been best friends for nearly three decades, and the fact that they're still joking with and standing by each other is comforting for any Cooper-Cohen fan. Here's hoping that their friendship will always be around to bring a smile to those in need of one.
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