Stars Whose Careers Took Off After They Got Divorced

Long gone are the days when divorce was considered box office poison. It's hard to imagine Marilyn Monroe's tearful press conference when she announced her divorce from Joe DiMaggio. These days, mega-star divorces have little effect on public opinion, and in some cases, like these movie stars, the dissolution of a marriage can even work wonders for their careers. Here are the notable stars who said goodbye to matrimony and hello to Hollywood superstardom. 

Angelina Jolie

Though Angelina's break-out role was 1995's Hackers, the movie on which she met her first husband Johnny Lee Miller, it wasn't until after their divorce in 1999 that she achieved superstar status—perhaps more so for her relationship with Billy Bob Thornton, than for the film they worked on together, Pushing Tin. Their amorous displays on red carpets (and allegedly wearing vials of each other's blood around their necks) made them the golden couple of celebrity tabloids in the early 2000s. 

If anything, Jolie's divorces have only helped to boost her career. Following her divorce from Thornton in 2003, her adoption of her first child Maddox and her humanitarian work (that eventually led to her being named a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador) solidified her A-List status in Hollywood, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the movie on which she met her future husband Brad Pitt, was a major box office success.

Nicole Kidman

Thanks to her Oscar-winning turn as Virginia Woolf in The Hours, and her performance in the recent HBO series Big Little Lies, many have wondered if perhaps Nicole Kidman is one of the most under-appreciated actors working in Hollywood today. It's mind-blowing to look back on the days before the end of her 11-year marriage to Hollywood mega-star Tom Cruise, when Kidman went from playing the love-interest in Batman Forever to carrying an entire musical, Moulin Rouge, the year of their divorce. Since Cruise filed for divorce in 2001, her career has skyrocketed, with critically-acclaimed performances in The Others, The Hours, Dogville, Cold Mountain, Lion, Rabbit Hole and Sofia Coppola's highly anticipated The Beguiled, just to name a few.

Mandy Moore

Though fans of Nicholas Sparks novels might love Mandy Moore's performance in the sappy tear-jerker A Walk to Remember, most remembered Moore as a one-hit teeny-bopper wonder with 1999's single, "Candy." In 2009, Moore married singer-songwriter Ryan Adams, and the couple lived in relative privacy until their divorce in 2015. Shortly after their divorce was finalized, it was announced that Moore would star in the NBC drama This is Us, which premiered in September 2016. The show went on to become a ratings phenomenon, reaching nearly 13 million viewers for its first season finale, catapulting Moore's rather anemic acting career to one of television mega-stardom.

Halle Berry

The demise of Halle Berry's marriage to baseball player David Justice was much more of a news story than her career in 1997, the year their divorce was finalized. There was later controversy when Berry claimed she had suffered physical abuse in one of her past relationships, and Justice went on a social media campaign to clear his name. It wasn't until 2000, when Berry starred in X-Men and Swordfish, and finally the critically acclaimed Monster's Ball in 2001, which won her the Academy Award for Best Actress, that Berry's career went from healthy to thriving. 

But Berry's personal life continues to be tempestuous. In 2005, she divorced Eric Benét, amidst rumors that he suffered from sexual addiction; in 2010, her five-year relationship with Gabriel Aubry came to an end, followed by a nasty custody battle. Just last year, her third marriage to fellow actor Oliver Martinez ended in divorce. Despite the personal struggles, Berry's career (and her fanbase) has never really wavered.

Olivia Wilde

Actress Olivia Wilde married young, at age 19, to Tao Ruspoli, an Italian filmmaker and musician. The marriage lasted eight years until their divorce in 2011. Wilde came into prominence with her role on the television series House, which ended in 2012. Her major film breakthroughs came post-divorce, with Tron: Legacy, Cowboys & Aliens, and Drinking Buddies. In 2011, she met her current partner, actor Jason Sudeikis, with whom she has two children. Wilde has since stated that getting married so young "stunted her growth," but that ultimately it led her to Sudeikis, "the great love of my life."

Reese Witherspoon

Just as actress Reese Witherspoon was coming into her own with her Academy Award win for Walk the Line in 2006, her marriage to Ryan Phillippe, whom she met at a surprise party for her 21st birthday, was drawing to a close. Since then, Witherspoon has been outspoken about the lack of diverse roles for women in Hollywood and has pursued her own projects through her production company, leading to her starring and producing in 2014's Wild, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award, and developing other successful films like Gone Girl. She also achieved critical acclaim for her work on the HBO miniseries Big Little Lies, opposite Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley and Laura Dern.

Uma Thurman

The beginning of Uma Thurman's career was set off by her divorce to actor Gary Oldman. Thurman was only 20 when she married Oldman, then 32, and the two divorced in 1992 after just two years of marriage. 1994 was the year of Pulp Fiction and the beginning of an incredibly fruitful creative partnership with writer-director Quentin Tarantino. After meeting on 1997's Gattaca, Thurman married her co-star Ethan Hawke. The two separated in 2003 and divorced in 2005 amidst rumors of infidelity on his part (with their children's nanny, who Hawke is currently married to) just as Thurman was publicizing the Kill Bill movies, the most critically-acclaimed performances of her career.

Brad Pitt

When Pitt's marriage to America's sweetheart Jennifer Aniston ended in 2005 amidst allegations that he had cheated with his co-star Angelina Jolie, it only intensified interest in the movie they had made together, Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The birth of the ultimate Hollywood power couple, Brangelina, increased Pitt's star power at the box office, and his ability to pursue more projects as a producer. Fans were stunned when Jolie filed for divorce in September 2016. For months, there was no word from Pitt on the reasons behind the split, but in May 2017, he told GQ that he suffers from alcoholism and that he's been hit hard emotionally by their divorce. As for now, Pitt's career soldiers on—on May 26, 2017 Netflix premieres War Machine, a film starring Pitt as a four-star general who is tasked with ending the war in Afghanistan.