On-screen couples who couldn't stay together in real life

On-screen couples make us want to believe love exists, especially when those TV or movie romances happen in real life. Take Mila Kunis, for example, who shared her first-ever kiss with her future husband, Ashton Kutcher, on the set of That '70s Show. Years after playing a couple on the small screen, after the dissolution of their respective long-term relationships and a friends-with-benefits pact straight out of their own hookup rom-coms, the couple genuinely fell in love. 

Unfortunately, for every Kunis and Kutcher, there's a Bennifer or Brangelina. Hollywood is a war zone when it comes to romance, and though Amanda Seyfried once said falling in love on set is "one of the easiest things in the world," staying together is a lot more difficult. From Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman to Chris Pratt and Anna Faris, these co-stars had no problems playing lovers on screen. Unfortunately, none of them got a happily ever after, at least not with each other.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

Thanks to Brangelina, Jennifer Aniston has had to endure over a decade of nasty headlines alleging she's lonely and bitter. She'd probably like to be removed from this narrative by now, okay? Nonetheless, all is fair in love and Hollywood. According to People, sparks flew between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie on the set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith in 2003 when Pitt was still married to Aniston. Towards the end of filming in 2004, the on-screen couple realized their friendship might actually be a little bit deeper, but they weren't looking for love. 

In a 2006 Vogue interview (via People), Jolie said, "It was clear he was with his best friend, someone he loves and respects," adding, "And so we were both living, I suppose, very full lives … I think we were the last two people who were looking for a relationship. I certainly wasn't. I was quite content to be a single mom."

After getting together and adopting a bunch of children, the couple finally wed in 2014. But exchanging vows might have been the death knell for the pair. Two years later, Jolie filed for divorce, and the pair entered a brutal custody battle.

Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise

Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise were more than just on-screen lovers in a film. For a time, it seemed like they were a dynamic duo of sorts (one where Kidman couldn't wear heels unless she wanted to totally tower over than her hubby). According to PopSugar, the pair met in 1989 during an audition for Days of Thunder. Kidman booked the part and got herself a future husband. The couple tied the knot shortly afterwards in December 1990, and they went on to star alongside one another in the films Far and Away and Eyes Wide Shut. But marriage is risky business, and, in 2001, Cruise abruptly filed for divorce.

It's unclear exactly what happened between Cruise and Kidman. Rumors claim Cruise's divorce filing had something to do with his dedication to Scientology (he is, after all, one of the church's most famous members). According to the documentary Going Clear (via RedBook), the church developed a targeted breakup campaign — which allegedly involved creating a Tom Cruise divorce task force and wiretapping Kidman's phone — after Kidman pressured her husband into "distancing himself" from Scientology.

Regardless of what went down, Kidman admitted in 2015 that the divorce was one of the best things that happened to her career because she was able to focus deeply on her work. "Out of my divorce came work that was applauded … That culminated in winning an Oscar,"  she said (via The Telegraph).

Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper

Mamma mia! There's no pain like a broken heart, and that's exactly what Amanda Seyfried was left with after splitting from her Mamma Mia! co-star (even if Cher might have said she "dodged a bullet"). According to Elle (via People), Seyfried met actor Dominic Cooper on the set of Mamma Mia! where he starred as her on-screen fiancé. And their relationship was reportedly painful from the get-go when she realized Cooper was still involved with another woman. Nonetheless, they ended up dating on and off for over three years before calling it quits in 2010.

"I got my heart broken pretty hard," she told Elle (via People). "After that, it's really hard to open myself up to a new person. Really hard."

It seems like the pair did eventually work out their issues. Today, Cooper considers Seyfried a close friend. The pair reunited a decade later for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, much to the dismay of Seyfried's now-husband, Thomas Sadoski, as Seyfried told The Mirror. In an interview with Attitude, Cooper called the sequel's set "a pleasant atmosphere" and admitted it was "nice to spend time" with his former flame.

Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan

Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan stepped up to the altar after meeting on the set of 2006's Step Up. According to an interview with Elle, their relationship almost didn't happen because Tatum had just "gotten out of a pretty long relationship" and wasn't ready for another. All it took was a night out with friends, some liquid courage, and a well-placed sombrero to make him take the plunge. 

"He went out partying with a bunch of dancers. His room was right above mine, and he came down drunk with a sombrero on, banging on my door," Dewan told Cosmopolitan in 2016. "He was like, 'I couldn't stop thinking about you. Let's do this. I just want to be with you.' From that point forward, we were together."

Unfortunately, not all loves are meant to last. As reported by People, Tatum and Dewan announced their separation in 2018, after almost nine years of marriage. Dewan reportedly filed for divorce months later.

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck

Bennifer version 2.0 (not to be confused with Ben Affleck's prior romance with singer Jennifer Lopez) was one of the most notorious Hollywood couples of the early aughts. They practically invented celebrity couple portmanteaus. According to Cosmopolitan, Jennifer Garner met Affleck on the set of Pearl Harbor in 2000. At the time, she was married to actor Scott Foley, and Affleck was just about to fall so blindly in love with J. Lo that he'd think Gigli was a good idea. It wasn't until 2002 that Garner and Affleck fell head over heels on the set of Daredevil, but they were both still spoken for.

By 2004 (about a lifetime later in Hollywood relationship years), everything had changed. Bennifer 1.0 called off their engagement, and Garner had filed for divorce from Foley (via Us Weekly). The following year, Affleck and Garner got hitched (via People), and they lasted a decade before announcing their separation the day after their tenth anniversary. Though there were the typical clichéd rumors that Affleck had cheated with the nanny, Garner told Vanity Fair that the woman they hired to watch her kids had "nothing to do" with their divorce.

Rachel Bilson and Hayden Christensen

For some reason, most of us forget that Rachel Bilson ever dated Hayden Christensen. Not only did the former The O.C. star not end up with Seth Cohen (we were really shipping that one), but her romance with the Star Wars actor lasted a decade. And well, that's basically an eternity in Hollywood. 

According to E! News, Bilson met Christensen while filming the 2007 movie Jumper. They got engaged by 2009, but the two broke things off in 2010, as reported by People. They ended up getting back together but never tied the knot, despite welcoming a daughter, Briar Rose, in 2014. By September 2017, they finally split for good. An alleged high school friend of the Hart of Dixie star told E! News their "different lifestyles and interests" were a major factor in their breakup.

Today, Bilson is working on co-parenting her daughter with Christensen and hawking Magnum bars because there's no truer love than ice cream and chocolate. The star reportedly doesn't even have a nanny despite boasting a hectic work schedule. As of 2018, the former on-screen couple was "still kind of trying to figure it out." She told People, "Most important for me is that Briar is okay and secure and stable," adding, "No matter what I'm dealing with or how much it hurts or how much anger there is, it's just about her."

Anna Faris and Chris Pratt

Anna Faris and Chris Pratt's love seemed written in the Hollywood stars. According to Cosmopolitan, the pair grew up just 20 minutes from each other but never crossed paths until 2007 on the set of Take Me Home Tonight. Though their characters got engaged in the movie, Pratt got down on one knee the following year after Faris' divorce from actor Ben Indra was finalized. Faris reportedly discovered that Pratt had bought an engagement ring a whopping seven months before Pratt popped the question. Despite his wait to propose, he knew she was the one right away.

"I knew I wanted to marry her pretty soon [after I met her,]" he said in an interview with People. "It took a while for me to admit it, because it would be crazy to be like, 'I want to marry you' the first day I met her. But I could have!"

Pratt and Faris tied the knot in 2009. Eight years later, they shocked fans by announcing their separation in 2017, but there appears to be no bad blood between them as they co-parent their son, Jack. In 2019, Faris slid into Pratt's Instagram comments to congratulate him on his engagement to Katherine Schwarzenegger.

Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon

Celebs Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe were, at one point, the hottest young couple in Hollywood. They steamed it up on and off the silver screen after meeting at Witherspoon's 21st birthday party. In an interview with Jane magazine, the future Legally Blonde star admitted that she wasn't sure if the "seven Midori sours" she'd consumed were to blame, but she told Phillippe he was her birthday present that year.

Two years after what we can only assume was Witherspoon's most wicked hangover, the couple arguably debuted their sexiest roles ever in Cruel Intentions, which premiered in 1999. They tied the knot that same year, while Witherspoon was pregnant with their first child (via PopSugar). By 2006, the couple had filed for divorce. "I got married when I was 23 and I had two kids by the time I was 27," she told ITV's Lorraine (via Us Weekly). "I don't know, sometimes it's good to know yourself [first]." Still, she added that she "would never change anything" about her life.

Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp

Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp basically defined whirlwind Hollywood romances. According to People, the couple got engaged just five months after their first date (meanwhile, the rest of us can't even get our Tinder matches to meet us in real life). Long before the days of dating apps, Depp met Ryder at the 1989 premiere of Great Balls of Fire when he was 27 years old and Ryder was still a teenager at 18. Despite their almost ten-year age gap, they started dating within two months. Cue Depp's regrettable "Winona Forever" tattoo and their film Edward Scissorhands, the bizarre 1990 love story in which they co-starred.

By 1993, the engagement was cut off quicker than one of Scissorhands' artfully trimmed hedges. Depp later altered his tattoo to read "Wino Forever," which is shockingly self aware for a man who allegedly spent over $30,000 a month on wine. According to Rolling Stone, he boasts a "never-ending reservoir" of the alcohol. Ryder later told Elle their split was her "first real breakup, the first heartbreak."

Blake Lively and Penn Badgley

Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds fit together so well it's almost like they never dated anyone else, but, rest assured, life imitated art on the set of Gossip Girl. Lively played the trust fund party girl Serena van der Woodsen, while Penn Badgley played the less rich — but still obviously affluent — Brooklyn writer Dan Humphrey (c'mon, Dumbo lofts aren't cheap). It was a Lady and the Tramp-like union that basically monopolized the show's story arch for the majority of its run. What most of us never knew was that the on-screen couple was also dating in real life. And what the Gossip Girl crew didn't know was that Lively and Badgley broke up months before filming the second season's finale.

"They kept the breakup hidden from the crew, which you could never do now," Gossip Girl writer and co-producer Joshua Safran revealed to Marie Claire. "I don't even know how they did it. They kept it from everybody which is a testament to how good they are as actors. Because they did not want their personal drama to relate to the show."

Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling

This one really hurt. It's almost too painful to talk about, and it reportedly creeps Ryan Gosling out that we even care (at least, according to a 2007 GQ interview with the actor). Though Gosling calls Rachel McAdams one of the "great loves" of his life, their relationship couldn't outlast the couple's on-screen legacy. In fact, the couple reportedly butted heads from the very beginning.

The pair started dating after filming The Notebook — what might be the most iconic Nicholas Sparks tale of all time — but they reportedly didn't get along on set, at least not at first. According to a VH1 interview with director Nick Cassavetes, Gosling tried to get McAdams kicked off set and duked it out with her in a screaming match behind closed doors, which is not quite the love story we want to remember. Apparently, their breakup wasn't that different than whatever brought them together. "The only thing I remember is we both went down swingin' and we called it a draw," he told GQ.

Of course, the celebs' breakup devastated fans. Gosling admitted that women were "mad" at him, and he almost got "smacked" by a random fan in the street for letting McAdams go. "I feel like I want to give people hugs, they seem so sad. Rachel and I should be the ones getting hugs! Instead, we're consoling everybody else," he said in his GQ interview.

Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn

Some might call 2006's The Break-Up the saddest rom-com that ever was. Others might simply describe it as accurate. For Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston, it seemed both poignantly realistic and a little bit sad — at least, if they're willing to admit it. According to People, the absurdly private couple began dating on the set of the epic non-romance in 2005 and their relationship reportedly lasted over a year.

At the time, it was thought that Aniston might have still be reeling from her shocking, highly public divorce from Brad Pitt. In a 2005 Vanity Fair interview, the Friends actress denied that she was dating Vaughn, but admitted she was working towards moving on. "You can't let the devastation of a divorce take over and win — let it make you this bitter, closed-off, angry, skeptical person," she said. "Then you're just falling victim to it. You don't want to shut your heart down. You don't want to feel that when a marriage ends, your life is over."

Despite the public denial, People claims the on-screen couple was spotted kissing near Vaughn's hometown that fall. By December 2006, they reportedly "mutually" ended their relationship and remain "good friends."