What went wrong with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie's friendship?

From the low-rise jeans to the butterfly clips and velour tracksuits, the early '00s seemed like a simpler time. It was a world where layering a babydoll dress over jeans was considered smart-casual, and where the celebrity feud reigned supreme. We saw Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan duke it out over Aaron Carter (which seems utterly ill-advised in 2019), and watched Heidi Montag and Lauren Conrad dissolve their relationship over Spencer Pratt (which seems even worse, unless you're looking to blow your life savings on crystals). Still, few early '00s celebrity spats are as iconic as the infamous breakup of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie.

Paris and Nicole were arguably the early aughts' most dynamic duo. The pair, who starred together in The Simple Life from 2003 to 2007, had been friends since they were two years old, according to Harper's Bazaar. So what went so wrong? Between hard-partying and tabloid drama, a rift formed that would never fully be repaired. 

Could Paris' infamous 'tape' be to blame?

Today, the world is more forgiving about certain kinds of "leaked" tapes and scandalous photo hacks. We even saw renowned gossip blogger Perez Hilton apologize about posting elicit photos of Jennifer Lawrence in 2014 amidst "an onslaught of furious criticism that included being labelled a 'rapist' and 'sex offender,'" according to News Corp Australia. 2004 was a wildly different online climate — one where shamed celebs were thrown into the trenches by notoriously catty bloggers and teased into submission. Paris Hilton was one of those celebrities.

Paris's life was shattered in 2004 when her then-boyfriend Rick Salomon leaked a tape of one of the pair's intimate romps. In the Netflix documentary The American Meme (via USA Today), the hotel heiress spoke about how the leak made her "literally" want "to die at some points."

"It was like being raped," she said (via USA Today). "It felt like I'd lost part of my soul and been talked about in such cruel and mean ways … I was like, 'I just don't want to live,' because I thought everything was taken away from me."

Needless to say, it'd be pretty nasty if then-BFF Nicole Richie screened Paris' illicit video at a party meant to celebrate her 2005 Saturday Night Live hosting gig, right? Yet, that's exactly what the tabloids claim triggered the dynamic duo's falling out (though, according to People, representatives from Nicole's camp deny it). Regina George, is that you?

The Simple Life gets complicated

A month after Paris' SNL hosting gig, news of her falling out with Nicole was just a rumor. Regardless, the pair were spotted ignoring each other all over tinseltown, which certainly didn't help dispel any tall tabloid tales.

According to People, the rift was pretty obvious at the 2005 Vanity Fair Oscar party, which saw Tom Cruise pulling up to the back door in a motorcycle like a low-stakes installment of Mission Impossible and Donald Trump posing with his brand new bride Melania. Paris, who was wearing a glitzy Chloe dress and showing off some elegant side-boob, reportedly "hung out with her sister Nicky [Hilton]." Nicole, who was engaged to DJ AM (Adam Goldstein) at the time, "stuck with her fiancé."

A few days later, things didn't appear to be any friendlier between Paris and Nicole. According to People, they were both spotted at the luxury, Beverly Hills Chinese restaurant Mr. Chow. Paris was there first, and Nicole took a seat at "the other side of the restaurant, out of Paris' view." The interaction probably made most onlookers want to hide under their Von Dutch trucker hats, or at least phone TMZ.

Paris officially dumps Nicole, then dances on a couch

In April 2005, Paris officially dumped Nicole — at least as much as she could while still having a contract with The Simple Life. According to USA Today, the hotel heiress was spotted at Us Weekly's Young Hot Hollywood Style Awards, where she announced that Nicole would no longer be a part of their famed reality series. Instead, Rod Stewart's daughter, Kimberly Stewart, would be filling in as her BFF for Season 4.

"It's my show; I've had it three seasons, and I just want to freshen it up — make it newer and funner," Paris said, adding Nicole was "engaged" and "working like a dog."

Seems a little too drama free for a mid-2000's celebrity spat, right? Don't worry. Nicole also showed up at the event. She reportedly told Us Weekly that she wouldn't be doing any press, and "darted" out almost as soon as she arrived. Meanwhile, Stewart and Hilton were allegedly busy dancing on a couch.

Paris publicly blames Nicole

Shortly after Us Weekly's party, Paris finally came clean about the rumors surrounding her split with Nicole. The star infamously released one of the coldest celebrity statements to ever grace gossip magazines. We wouldn't see such a monumental, public decay of a celebrity best-friendship until Lauren Conrad would declare "I want to forgive you, and I want to forget you" to Heidi Montag during a 2007 episode of The Hills.

"It's no big secret that Nicole and I are no longer friends," Hilton said (via People). "Nicole knows what she did, and that's all I'm ever going to say about it."

The statement seemed like it almost confirmed the tabloid's sex tape snafu story, but not everyone was convinced. Regardless, Paris and Nicole tried their best to move on. According to People, Richie was busy pitching a "Newlyweds-style series to MTV, while Hilton was promoting her role in the movie House of Wax." Though Hilton claimed she was replacing Richie in The Simple Life with her "hysterical and crazy fun" friend Kimberly Stewart, FOX hadn't yet made a decision.

Nicole blames life

Though Paris blamed Nicole for the dissolution of their epic partnership and inadvertently fueled nasty rumors that Nicole possessed a nearly unimaginable level of pettiness, Lionel Richie's daughter had a totally different understanding of their issues.

According to People, Nicole appeared on Today to promote her book The Truth About Diamonds in November 2005. This was about six months after Paris publicly dumped her. Nicole reportedly claimed the pair wouldn't even speak if they ran into each other at the mall (the epitome of early aughts hangout spots, back when Abercrombie & Fitch was name-dropped in pop songs rather than desperately doing everything it can to avoid bankruptcy).

Regardless, there apparently wasn't a whole lot of drama there. Nicole claimed they weren't really feuding at all. "We just grew apart," she told Today (via People), adding, it "turned into a much bigger thing than it is. It's just not part of my life."

A separate People report corroborated Nicole's story. Apparently, her friends claimed the star "has grown out of her wild ways" and quit drinking. Meanwhile, Paris was months away from getting her infamous 2006 DUI.

That's not hot

In the summer of 2005, The Simple Life got really complicated. A couple months after Paris announced she'd be ditching Nicole in favor of Kimberly Stewart, it was pretty clear that wasn't actually going to happen. The pair was thought to be contractually obligated to Season 4, and FOX was trying everything to make it work. In other words: the two were going to be forced to work together, but in what capacity was still up in the air.

According to E! News (via Digital Spy), the network tried to shift around the format of the show so Paris and Nicole could film separately. They allegedly considered following the pair as they prepared for their weddings (and let's be real: it's not like either was going to be a maid of honor). Another idea involved explaining their ongoing feud and helping them patch things up. According to The New York Post, producers even considered formatting the season like Wife Swap, where Nicole and Paris would stay in separate households with different cultural backgrounds and play the role of "wife."

Instead of dealing with the headache, FOX ended up giving The Simple Life the ax after the girls separately filmed their parts for Season 4, according to Today. That didn't mean they were totally off the hook. The Age reports the series was picked up by E!, who sent Paris and Nicole to camp — literally. There's nothing quite like bunking with someone you hate.

The iconic duo break bread (or at least, pasta)

In October 2006, things took a turn for the better. Paris and Nicole were spotted in public not ignoring each other from behind their signature oversized sunglasses. In fact, they looked like actual friends again. According to People, the former BFFs were dining at West Hollywood's Dan Tana and eating carbs — the ultimate indulgence for impossibly thin, stressed-out besties who just endured a year's worth of war with the tabloids. They reportedly chowed down "on Caesar salads and penne pasta."

Though a fellow restaurant patron told People the duo looked like "best friends" and left "hand-in-hand, smiling," Paris' publicist was hesitant to consider it a reconciliation. He confirmed the fact that they had a meal, but claimed he didn't know if it was "business or personal." Either way, it was reportedly The Simple Life that led to the unlikely reunion.

According to Simple Life producer Jon Murray, who spoke to the Associated Press (via People), the duo were meant to be placed on a "deserted island with a bunch of survivalists," a likely nightmare for someone used to mansion living (or just for someone, anyone). They reportedly "reached out to each other in universal disdain for the island concept" which in turn helped them make amends.

The babes are back

Paris and Nicole's ongoing feud may have been one of the most iconic celebrity spats in Hollywood history, but it was actually fairly short-lived. By 2007, the pair were back as besties and flaunted their friendship in a Harper's Bazaar spread. So, how did they go from public snubs to pals? Paris extended the olive branch with an e-mail (extra points if it was from a Sidekick, but she didn't divulge). Nicole even shrugged off Paris' notoriously callous "Nicole knows what she did" statement.

"I can't get mad at her for talking s**t about me," Nicole told Harper's Bazaar. "We were in a fight!"

As for what Nicole actually did, she had no idea. Paris told Harper's Bazaar that it had little do with her bestie's behavior and a whole lot to do with gossip. "There was no reason why we were fighting; it was just silly," she said (via Harper's Bazaar). "We believed what other people were saying. People are really two-faced in this town, and they were trying to play us against each other."

If the Harper's Bazaar shoot wasn't enough, the pair also buried the hatchet in Season 5 of The Simple Life, which would have been quite awkward otherwise.

Wedding bells-a-ringing

Nothing is sacred in the tabloids, not even holy matrimony, so it wasn't surprising when Nicole's upcoming nuptials to Good Charlotte rocker Joel Madden in 2010 raised some speculation about the state of her mended friendship with Paris. According to Page Six, the hotel heiress was nixed from the guest list, but was it all fake news?

As it turned out, Paris was invited to Nicole's wedding, but she wasn't a bridesmaid, which signaled that the pair might never be as close as they were during The Simple Life years. The heiress ended up not attending the nuptials at all because she had already committed to filming her Oxygen reality series, which was planned months prior. In addition, Paris tweeted she was "off to Vegas" for her "BFF @CamRaFace's Birthday!" Wait, isn't that title reserved for Nicole? Is a wedding not more important than a birthday? 

According to E! News, Paris wasn't totally rude by skipping out on the ceremony. She reportedly sent Nicole a wedding gift. Fast forward to 2018, and a newly-engaged Paris confirmed to Entertainment Tonight that Nicole would be invited to her wedding, too. Will she actually show?

Have Paris and Nicole run their course?

In 2014, we got a closer look at the complicated relationship between Paris and Nicole. If Nicole's wedding wasn't signal enough that the pair had drifted apart, Lionel Richie's daughter confirmed the status of their bond in an episode of Watch What Happens Live. Apparently, things weren't what they used to be. Gone were the days of matching velour tracksuits and oversized sunglasses (let's be honest: that look was never hot). Regardless, the pair remain "very good friends" despite the space.

"I haven't spoken to her in a while technically, but, if you really want to get into it, my view of a friendship is someone that you don't necessarily have to talk to you every day," she said (via Us Weekly). "It's somebody that you can call when you need them, and they're just going to be there."

The following year, Paris proved that you don't need to be a constant presence in someone's life to still be thick as thieves (or TV besties, whichever). The heiress posted an adorable throwback Thursday (above) of the pair as children. The following year, she gushed about her lifelong friend in an interview and claimed she was "the funniest person" she's ever met. From here on out, things truly do appear to be all good. So what's next for the TV duo?

Will The Simple Life get a reboot?

It's been more than 10 years since TV viewers got a chance to watch Paris and Nicole wreak havoc on the lives of innocent blue collar workers. It's about time for a Simple Life reboot, right? As much as we'd love to watch Paris and Nicole pretend they can't do menial tasks despite Nicole taking on the difficult challenge of raising children while running a fashion line and Paris owning an estimated $2.5 billion perfume empire, it looks like it won't happen anytime soon.

In a 2018 interview with Entertainment Tonight, Paris admitted she has been asked about rebooting her famed reality series, but has too much in the pipeline to focus on the past.

"I feel like I had so much fun doing it but I'm focusing on all my businesses and really wouldn't have time to go over to a farm again and do that," she said (via ET). "But it was so much fun and it's such a hilarious show. I still watch it. It's fun that everyone's enjoying it and it'd be amazing for it to come back."

Fans still have hope

Paris and Nicole sparked Simple Life reunion rumors in April of 2018 when the pair were spotted sharing a laugh at The Daily Front Row Fashion Awards. According to People, both of the former co-stars were presenting awards. Paris gave designer Philipp Plein the Fashion Rebel award, while Nicole "presented Juicy Couture creative director Jamie Mizrahi with the Best Design Debut award." If anyone knows about Juicy Couture's long legacy of butt-slogan sweatpants, it's The Simple Life stars.

After the cheeky photo of the dynamic duo surfaced, fans reportedly went nuts online, with one even  desperately tweeting at the stars, "Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god! Please please please please please please do a reboot." Unfortunately, Paris still isn't down to head back to a farm quite yet. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Paris called the show "timeless and iconic," but claimed both her and Nicole were way too busy to make it happen.

"I'm getting tons of offers to do a docuseries show, basically on my business, my life, the wedding," said Paris, who starred in the documentary The American Meme (via THR). "Just the next chapter of my life. I'm very busy, but we'll see what happens."