Everything You Need To Know About Naomi Watts And Liev Schreiber's Split

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber were one of Hollywood's most steadfast couples, and their 2016 breakup was one of the year's most shocking. In their 11 year-run, the two megastars were exasperatedly picture-perfect as they strolled down countless red carpets and took idyllic public outings together. Their PDA was adorably quirky, like the time Schreiber gawked on Instagram at the sight of Watts' long legs in a pair of sassy knee-high boots — "Ay Dios Mio," he captioned the snap — or when he pedaled her around New York City in the child's seat of his bike. Yes, really!

When asked to describe the couple's fateful meeting at the 2005 MET Gala, Schreiber told Esquire that Watts was the aggressor. The Gypsy star invited him out dancing after the event, but when Schreiber caught up to her, he was intimidated to find actors Benecio Del Toro and Sean Penn already surrounding her. "All these movie stars were hovering, and I felt awkward and out of my element," Schreiber admitted. No sweat, as it turns out, because Watts "chased [him] outside" and gave him her number. 

Their blissfully unwed union saw the birth of two sons, Alexander "Sasha" Pete and Samuel Kai, and a decade of working and jet-setting as one of Hollywood's most gainfully employed and most likable power couples. So, what happened in paradise? How are they coping now? Here's everything to know about Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber's split.

Did you know that Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber weren't married?

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber were the couple that had everything, except a marriage certificate. Refuting rumors of wedding bells seemed a common pastime of the ex-lovebirds over the course of their relationship. Schreiber once flippantly joked to Entertainment Tonight (via People) during an interview at the 2007 Tony Awards that he and Watts were "married... you heard it here first." After other reporters at the event picked up on the self-inflicted rumor, he learned the valuable lesson that sarcasm doesn't always translate in the press.

According to Radar Online, however, Watts and Schreiber were reportedly all set to glide down the aisle on New Year's Eve 2008, but then there was the ol' last-minute change of heart. News tidbits like this one from HuffPost didn't help matters, alleging that Schreiber had given Watts a ring in January 2010. Ring or no ring, their relationship found its conclusion without a wedding. To look for clues of inter-couple conflict on this topic, according to Watts, was to bark up the wrong tree. "We are very much together. We just don't have that certificate, and that's okay with both of us," she told Easy Living magazine (via People). Watts did tease in that same interview, however, that "maybe one day," they would "wake up" and feel differently. "And maybe not." In retrospect, this last part, given the events of 2016, rings just a tad too sad.

Their romance ended sooner than their relationship

Although Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts officially split in September 2016, their romance might have run dry much earlier. TMZ came forward with sources alleging that the erstwhile lovers had been living la vida single as early as January that year. Their reps, of course, denied this, using the couple's 2016 Oscars outing together in February as evidence — Schreiber even picked out Watts' dress! Aww. But this might have been just for show. According to Watts and Schreiber's official joint statement, the split was brewing for a "few months" prior to the announcement. Just a few weeks before that bombshell dropped, however, the pair had their film Chuck to promote at that season's major film festivals. Watts and Schreiber at least looked the part of happy and cozy as they locked arms on red carpets and documented the press tour in a string of smiley Instagram posts on their respective feeds.

The Friday afternoon before their breakup went public, Schreiber gave one final — and highly telling — sign that not all was well behind public smiles. In an interview with news.com.au, Schreiber mostly praised Watts and affectionately recalled her "forward" behavior the night they met. When the subject turned to their sons, however, his eyes welled up with tears. One year later, the outlet would ask Schreiber to address the timing of his emotional display. "Now you know why I was like that," Schreiber admitted.

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber were both in a full-time relationship with work

The downside to being part of a power couple is that power couples have jobs — hectic jobs. Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber have both often expressed their frustrations with this over the years. Finding time for each other as a couple, Schreiber told TV Week (via the Daily Mail), "has been one of the things that have been really, really hard for Naomi and I." 

Having children only intensified their work-life balancing woes. In a 2008 interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Watts revealed that Sasha, the couple's first son, had already frequented three continents at the tender age of seven months. "I'm not proud of it," Watts admitted (via People). As Sasha and younger brother Kai grew older, their parents remained adamant that they live in New York with their mom year-round, even as Schreiber split his time in Los Angeles to shoot his Showtime series Ray Donovan. "The kids are at that age where you want them to have a continuity with friends and school," Schreiber said told Ellen DeGeneres in 2016, adding, "You have to put them first at a certain point, and the back-and-forth thing can get tough."

It was all part and parcel of the life they chose, according to Schreiber. He told TV Week (via Now To Love) in 2017, "Everyone who dedicates that much time to their work... it changes you. It changes relationships. It changes everything."  

Naomi Watts didn't want to be a stay-at-home mom

A source close to the couple told OK! in 2012 that Schreiber wasn't happy with Watts' competing role as a household breadwinner (via the Daily Mail). According to the report, while Schreiber mainly wanted to plant roots with their kids in New York, the Luce star had a wanderlust for traveling and enjoyed the "film festivals and red carpets" aspect of her job. "[Schreiber] would like [Watts] to take more of a back seat when it comes to her career... be more of a stay-at-home mom," another insider alleged to Radar Online in 2010.

Indeed, while Schreiber began a stint on Broadway's revival of Les Liaisons Dangereuses one month after their breakup, Watts was then looking at "more than half of a dozen film and television projects in some state of production," per Variety. She told Stellar magazine that while it would delay returning her children to her native Australia for a family Christmas, she was committed to working through the last months of 2016. "I obviously want to get back to Australia, but ... I've only got a limited amount of time off," she shared (via The Daily Telegraph).

Watts was aware of the toll her overly booked schedule took on her family life. She admitted to ET in 2016 that while being a "supermom" has its good days, "there are days where you're like, 'Ah! I can't do this!' It's like any working mom, I think. It's a balance."

Did Liev Schreiber violate their pact?

In May 2017, following his September 2016 breakup with Watts, Schreiber was spotted strolling Los Angeles with one arm around interior designer (and ex to Gerard Butler) Morgan Brown. Woman's Day reported Watts as feeling "betrayed and humiliated." With good reason, as it turns out — Watts and Schreiber had reportedly made a pact they would not "date anyone openly for at least a year after their split." Über-awkward. 

This could explain why, by the time Schreiber had gotten around to dating his girlfriend as of this writing, Miss 2012 South Dakota Taylor Neisen, for a while in October 2017, both parties were refuting romantic rumors by insisting that she was his children's nanny. As an alleged insider pointed out to the Daily News, this was likely a ruse to help keep Schreiber's promise to Watts. Neisen, who the outlet claims has "family money" also reportedly has "access to a private plane" and would not need the extra child-rearing dough.

Liev Schreiber took the breakup harder

In the aftermath of many breakups, one party often suffers a worse fallout — in this case, it looks like it was Liev Schreiber. In 2017, Schreiber shared with news.com.au that he had spent a year struggling after his break-up with Naomi Watts. "I hate change and I hate adjusting," he admitted, adding, "I don't like everybody not living in the same house anymore." He also noted that he wasn't crazy about the relocating aspect to breaking up. "I really hate moving. I'm very lazy, actually," he laughed.

Compare that to Watts, who spoke with the same outlet just a few days after Schreiber, revealing that while being single was a "new experience" for her, things were "personally ... going well." She would add in 2019 while speaking with Harper's Bazaar that she thought she and Schreiber had "kept things in a great space" with respect to co-parenting as former partners. "Our friendship is better now than it ever was. And I feel like my kids are in a good place," Watts effused.

Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts have mastered co-parenting

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber have made it a priority from the get-go to maintain a solid friendship for their children. On Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist in 2018, Schreiber recounted a story from breakfast that morning when his sons' eyes lit up once he mentioned Watts. "You can see how important it is to [the kids] that their parents care about each other," Schreiber said.

The pair's post-split relations have not been short of platonic PDA across social media. Just days after their September 26 breakup, Watts celebrated her 48th birthday on Instagram with a childhood photo, on which Schreiber promptly commented, "Happy birthday sweetheart (via Daily Mail)." One week later, Watts returned the well wishes on his own birthday, posting a sweet snapshot of Schreiber and their sons, exclaiming, "Happy birthday to this one!" Their Instagram shout-outs got so frequent that gossiping tongues even began wagging about a possible reconciliation in 2019. Watts even admitted to Net-a-Porter in 2019 that she and Schreiber had an unusually supportive and forward-thinking relationship when it came to co-parenting. "I'm pretty proud of us, corny as that may sound," she said, adding, "We're doing things very differently. We've made it our absolute priority to be good and kind to each other and we're absolutely committed to that."

The ex-couple that quarantines together...

Since Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber's official split in 2016, the exes have stayed closer than most close friends. Rumors surfaced in 2018 that the former lovebirds had actually moved back in together so as to co-parent under the same roof, albeit with their own distinct living spaces inside a shared home. That year, they were spotted spending quality time sans kids together, taking Schreiber's dog out for a walk in New York City.

Their living conditions became even more unorthodox in the wake of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, as the two began self-isolating in March as a unit with their sons... along with Schreiber's girlfriend Taylor Neisen. The Daily Mail reported that Schreiber and Neisen had moved from their New York base to a condo near Watts' Venice Beach home to ride out the rest of the pandemic in close proximity. Among their group quarantine activities were an adorable game of driveway pick-up, an afternoon jog (consisting of just the two parents), and an instantly viral Tik Tok video of Schreiber, Watts, and their sons performing a synchronized dance to Doja Cat's "Say So." Is it just us, or do these two really have the whole post-breakup amiability thing down pat?