A Long-Standing Angelina Jolie Rumor Has Finally Been Confirmed

Angelina Jolie has always been somewhat of a media enigma. The "Maleficent" star is one of the biggest stars in the world and had managed to land herself on pretty much every magazine cover going in her time, yet doesn't seem to make too much of a habit about speaking to the press about her private life.

Of course, one thing that really made her tabloid fodder is her notorious romance with Brad Pitt, with the two meeting on the set of "Mr. & Mrs Smith" while Pitt was still married to his first wife, Jennifer Aniston. The global media had a field day when it came to speculating what, if anything, went on between the two on the set, with Jolie claiming nothing really happened until they'd finished shooting. "It took until, really, the end of the shoot for us, I think, to realize that it might mean something more than we'd earlier allowed ourselves to believe. And both knowing that the reality of that was a big thing, something that was going to take a lot of serious consideration," she said in Vogue's January 2007 issue. She then went on to tell The New York Times of her kids seeing "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," "Not a lot of people get to see a movie where their parents fell in love."

But how exactly did the world find out about Pitt and Jolie's romance? Well, those long-standing rumors about what went down may just have been cleared up.

Angelina Jolie was reportedly behind those notorious Brad Pitt photos

You may remember that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt ignited an insane media firestorm in 2005 amid the release of "Mr. & Mrs. Smith." The tabloids went into meltdown speculating something more than friendship may have been going on between Jolie and the then married Pitt — and things only got crazier when they were snapped spending quality time together with her children. For those who don't remember (or just need a refresher, it was a few years ago now) Us Weekly got the scoop that Pitt and Jolie were properly dating by publishing candid photos of the two at the beach in Kenya with Maddox. An insider even dished on what they saw, claiming it was obvious Pitt had developed a close bond with Jolie's little boy and he and Jolie weren't hiding their PDA.

But how did the paparazzi know to find the gang on vacation in Africa? Well, that's where the rumor mill has done years of churning. But we might finally have our answer. Jann Wenner owned Us Weekly at the time and opened up about getting the massive scoop in his memoir, "Like a Rolling Stone," according to a preview published by Page Six. He revealed exactly who gave the outlet the massive tip; Jolie herself. Wenner made it pretty clear the paparazzi's snap was no coincidence, noting, "We got the photo, we got the proof, we had the worldwide scoop, the debut of Brangelina."

Spencer Pratt was onto Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt

Us Weekly made quite the big story when it came to those exclusive photos of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, splashing them on the front page of the magazine in May 2005 and across 12 pages inside (yep, a whole 12 pages!) There's long been rumors about if the paparazzi was tipped about their whereabouts though, and, before Jann Wenner boldly claimed it was Jolie in his book, we had Spencer Pratt on the case. Yes, "The Hills" and "The Hills: New Beginnings" star Spencer Pratt.

The reality star was onto the now former couple prior to the big reveal, claiming in July 2021 that he knew twosome had apparently staged the whole thing. Pratt claimed on "Hollywood Raw with Dax Holt and Adam Glyn," that his mentor, Us Weekly editor Peter Grossman, was, as he described it, "in on the setup with the pap. He was there for the magazine." Pratt added he and his wife, Heidi Montag, then decided to start setting up their own photos after seeing Brangelina apparently get their snaps out there. "Like, green light, my two favourite fame hustlers are setting up their pretty much cheating confirmation relationship setup staged photos. So I never was surprised by anyone after that."

Campaign reported that Us Weekly supposedly paid between $500,000 and $1 million for the U.S. rights to the photos of Jolie and Pitt, who are now locked in a nasty feud post divorce.

Did Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt really stage their debut photos?

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have never officially spoken on the record about if those snaps in Kenya were staged or who tipped off the paparazzi, but plenty of industry insiders have weighed in over the years. In addition to Spencer Pratt, Ben Widdicombe, writer for The New York Times Style's "No Regrets" social column dished on the images in his book, "Gatecrasher: How I Helped the Rich Become Famous and Ruin the World," speculating all may not have been what it seemed. He confirmed Us Weekly's big exclusive as well as revealing how the photos literally found themselves everywhere. "'Us Weekly' owned the images, which looked to me as if they had been staged by the actors, although the circumstances of the photo shoot never became known," he wrote (though we seemingly know a little better now). "But the magazine was content to let my column break the story in return for a plug," he added, referring to "Gatecrasher."

Perhaps former editor of Us Weekly and Star, Bonnie Fuller, said it best when she told The New York Times of Jolie in 2008, "She's scary smart. But smart only takes you so far. She also has an amazing knack, perhaps more than any other star, for knowing how to shape a public image."