(A study in celebrity couples that split after working together)
By Diana D’Amato
I get a little nervous every time a favorite celebrity couple appears on-screen together. Over time, I have noticed a trend in certain celebrity break-ups: a celebrity couple appearing on screen together is a sign of a future breakup. These couples that worked together, either doing a movie together or appearing in an episode of their TV show, often ended up splitting months later. Ironically, the couple usually actively agrees to do this as a way to become closer or rekindle their spark, unlike actors and actresses whose whole relationship lives and dies behind the scenes of an ongoing television show or movie franchise. As the resident pop culture nerd, I have compiled a list of examples to test my theory.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (married 2 years, together 12 years)
I couldn’t create a list like this without including one of the more devastating Hollywood breakups in recent memory, now could I? Despite the Team Aniston drama, Brad and Angelina were a beloved celebrity couple that stayed together for a relatively long time (in Hollywood at least). They even invited the world to see photos of their idyllic fairytale wedding in People Magazine. The next year, they starred together in a movie titled By The Sea that told the story of a husband and wife growing apart. Yes, really. Soon after the film’s release, tabloid exclusives mourned their divorce. When discussing the film with Vanity Fair, Jolie explained, “I thought it would be a good way for us to communicate. In some ways it was, and in some ways we learned some things. But there was a heaviness, probably, during that situation that carried on, and it wasn’t because of the film.” That is part of what is so heartbreaking about this theory: the idea of working together is sparked by the hope of improving a relationship only to realize it is damaged beyond repair.
Chris Pratt and Anna Faris (married 8 years, together 10 years)
Few would have predicted Chris Pratt’s meteoric rise to stardom and Anna Faris’s success starring in the critically acclaimed sitcom Mom. While some couples struggle to share the spotlight, both Faris and Pratt experienced a surge in their careers within the same year. While little is known as to why exactly they broke up, we can assume differing filming schedules could be a factor. Which might have led them to their decision to have Pratt appear on a 2017 episode of Mom, so they could spend some time together. Having already developed my couples-working-together theory, I was hyperaware of what could happen to America’s favorite comedic couple. Mere months later, they announced their divorce.
Dominic Sherwood and Sarah Hyland (together 2~ years)
Sarah Hyland, already a TV darling playing Haley on smash-hit Modern Family, met British actor Dominic Sherwood on the set of Vampire Academy in 2014. They began dating shortly thereafter while Hyland continued her role on her hit sitcom and Sherwood found fame as Jace in Freeform’s Shadowhunters. In 2016, Sherwood appeared in an episode of Modern Family as James, a charming flirt who steals the heart of Haley’s sister Alex. The following year, Hyland played the adult version of a Seelie Queen in a two episode arc of Shadowhunters’s second season. By the time the episodes had aired, they had broken up. By the time the third season premiered, her character was replaced by the original, younger version of the queen without explanation.
Success Stories (so far…)
Despite all of this, I am happy to report some good news: there are celebrity couples that go the distance! Nick Offerman has appeared on both the original run and reboot of his wife Megan Mullaly’s show Will & Grace, while she returned the favor with recurring character Tammy on Parks and Recreation. Neil Patrick Harris’s husband David Burkta made appearances on How I Met Your Mother multiple times throughout the show’s run and cameo-ed in season 2 of A Series of Unfortunate Events. But, my most hopeful case is Emily Blunt and John Krasinski who have been together for ten years and have been married since 2010. Seeing so many rave reviews for A Quiet Place is what motivated me to write this article to share my theory. And, best of all, Blunt is aware of what sharing screen-time with your S.O. can do to your relationship. In a press interview with Willie Geist on Today’s Sunday Show she stated, “It’s a bit of a gamble, like, if you’re going to work together being a married couple. And everybody was like, ‘you’re going to be divorced by the end,’ you know. But, actually, we weren’t. We were closer.” There is hope after all!
Put yourself in these celebrities’ expensive designer shoes. Imagine working with your S.O. for an extended period of time. Filming a movie means near constant contact for months on end. Which is why some couples are formed during a film shoot. But all that time cooped up together after already seeing the cracks in your relationship may only cause more strain on you both. Working together can literally make a new relationship or break an existing one. So it is worth pointing out that the failed relationships listed bloomed from starring in a (often terrible) movie together: Pitt and Jolie in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Pratt and Faris in Take Me Home Tonight¸ and Sherwood and Hyland in Vampire Academy. It is no wonder they figured doing another episode or film together would rekindle that initial spark.
In the end, it is important to remember that stars’ lives go beyond the carefully crafted image they have created for publicity. While we see “relationship goals”, there may be a storm brewing beneath the surface. Even when their agents claim that they are “amicable,” “remain friends,” or that it was a “mutual breakup.”
I genuinely hope my theory is proven wrong in the end and Hollywood couples continue to live their lives happily in love. While I will remain cautiously optimistic when I see couples like John Krasinski and Emily Blunt gushing over each other, they give me hope.