After 12 years together, six children and two years of marriage, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were meant to be one of Hollywood’s most solid couples. Less than two years ago, indeed, Jolie told the BBC they would “be together till the end of our days”.
Now the news of their impending divorce has shocked the world, or at least the part of it that cares about such things. Hollywood romances often appear to outsiders to be fairy tales. But it can also seem like they rarely have the happy endings of the films these stars appear in.
Theories about why A-list marriages falter include the fact both sides may work apart for long periods; are open to more temptation than mere mortals; do not rely on each other for financial support; may clash egos; and could be disappointed if their partner does not live up to their public image. But perhaps the flow of headlines about unhappy endings actually gives us the wrong impression about Hollywood relationships, because there is a long list of high-profile couples who have proved stars can have staying power.
Here are 10 of them.
Samuel L Jackson and LaTanya Richardson: After meeting at university in 1974, the couple married in 1980. He went on to star in Pulp Fiction and Shaft, while she earned a Tony nomination for A Raisin in the Sun in 2014 and was in HBO’s Show Me a Hero last year. In 2012, Richardson told New York Times Magazine she had found it difficult when her husband was away on location.
Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell: Private Benjamin actress Hawn had two failed marriages before meeting the Tango & Cash star in 1983. He divorced his first wife that year. Hawn and Russell had a child together but have never tied the knot. “Marriage is a prelude to divorce,” he once said. “We’ve created a union, a family, and our lives are very secure,” Hawn explained. “There’s a sense of passion that we have and a piece of paper will never change that”.
Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest: “I knew my husband was the one for me as soon as I saw a picture of him on a magazine,” Curtis said. “I gave my number to his people and, luckily, he called.”
After her pursuit of the comic actor, who was about to star in This Is Spinal Tap, the couple wed in 1984.
Curtis, who is known for films like A Fish Called Wanda and Freaky Friday, has attributed the longevity of their marriage to “growth, hopefully. Parallel, mutual, intersecting growth”.
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson: “Rita has taught me what love is,” Hanks once said of his second wife. “People say it’s really hard work to stay married. No, no it’s not! Not if you really like the person!”
The couple met on the set of his sitcom Bosom Buddies and married in 1988.
He has won two Oscars, while she has starred in numerous TV shows and films.
Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick: Kyra and Kevin met in 1987 on the set of a TV movie and married the following year. “I have a marriage that is solid,” she said in 2003. “I don’t know why it has worked – I guess we simply love each other. “The kids and I join Kevin on the set if he’s filming away so we don’t spend huge amounts of time apart.”
John Travolta and Kelly Preston: Preston reportedly watched Travolta in Grease and Saturday Night Fever and told her dance instructor: “I’m going to marry the man in the movie.” After moving to California, the actress worked with Travolta on 1989 film The Experts. The pair fell in love and wed in 1991.
The marriage has endured the tragic death of their son, Jett, in 2009. In a 2001 interview, Travolta credited the role of counselling in the marriage. “In Scientology, we have what they call a Chaplain’s Court,” he said. “Basically [it’s] where you sit with a third party and negotiate, and just work everything out until it’s settled.”
Annette Bening and Warren Beatty: Heaven Can Wait star Beatty was one of Hollywood’s legendary lotharios, so when he married Annette Bening in 1992 few expected it to last. But it has.
Beatty and Bening have four children. Although Bening has spoken about how many of her contemporaries had put off having children because they feared it would hamper their careers, she has accrued three Oscar nominations during that time.
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith: Jada Pinkett auditioned for the role of Will Smith’s girlfriend in his TV comedy The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in 1994. She did not get the part, but she did get the man.
The couple married in 1997. Earlier this year, he said they had stayed together with the help of “a lot of marriage counselling”.
Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick: The Sex and the City actress has been married to the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off star for 19 years. The couple have three children. Parker has admitted their marriage has been through “some rather treacherous train rides”. But in 2014 Broderick said: “We really are friends beyond everything else and we talk a lot.” Asked his advice for other couples, he said: “Just keep talking I guess. I know how cliched that is. Too much silence is definitely not a good idea.”
Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones: Zeta Jones, who married Douglas in 2000, said earlier this year that she thinks “people today are so quick to throw in the towel” on relationships. The couple separated briefly following his cancer diagnosis in 2010 and her treatment for bipolar disorder before reuniting again. She said: “You have to give it your best shot and not give up when the first problem arises.”