The week’s dispatches from Camp Brangelina have been brutal and, let’s face it, pretty damn sad. Globetrotting, Oscar-winning actress-director-humanitarian Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from Brad Pitt, dad to their six kids ranging in age from 8 to 15. Since Jolie’s attorney released a statement, explaining that the decision was made “for the health of the family,” rumors have surfaced all over creation.
Does Pitt have anger issues? Is he overly fond of weed and booze? Is he, at 52, in the throes of a classic midlife crisis? Is or was he romantically involved with gifted French beauty and Oscar winner Marion Cotillard, his costar in the upcoming romantic spy thriller Allied? Did Jolie actually hire a private detective to verify whether Pitt dallied with “Russian hookers” and whether his and Cotillard’s passion on screen bled into their personal lives? Adding fuel to the fire, Cotillard, who has a 5-year-old son with partner actor/director Guillaume Canet, recently announced her pregnancy in a French magazine. (Update: Yesterday, Cotillard posted an Instagram comment saying that she’s been unfairly “swept up” in the Brangelina rumor maelstrom and calling Guilliame Canet “my love, my best friend, the only one that I need.” Read the whole thing here.]
Let’s review, because the cliché of history repeating itself looms large here. Earlier this month, in our column item called “Attention Celebrity Couples: Maybe Don’t Make That Movie Together,” we weighed in on the question of whether real-life movie star couples should do flicks together. Our conclusion? Yeah, no. Just generally a bad move. Beyond that, remember that Pitt and Jolie first collided during the long shooting schedule of Mr. and Mrs. Smith in 2004, back when Pitt and Jennifer Aniston had been together for six years and married for nearly five. When Pitt and Cotillard began filming Allied last February, Pitt and Jolie had been together for 12 years and married for 2. Mr. and Mrs. Smith director Doug Liman called Pitt and Jolie “amazing together right from the beginning, from that opening scene in couple’s counseling on the first day with no rehearsal. And that’s the stuff you can’t fake. They were just magnetic on screen.” Last month, Allied producer Graham King called the chemistry between Pitt and Cotillard “electric,” adding, “By the time we got to set, it was really amazing to see these characters already feel lived-in and real.” Pitt and Aniston announced their separation in January 2005, staunchly denying rumors of Jolie coming between them and Jolie telling an NBC TV reporter that spring, “To be intimate with a married man, when my own father cheated on my mother, is not something I could forgive. I could not look at myself in the mirror in the morning if I did that. I wouldn’t be attracted to a man who would cheat on his wife.”
Reflecting on his time with Jennifer Aniston in 2013, Pitt (who lacks, said Aniston in 2005, “a sensitivity chip”) shouldered some of the blame, reflecting that he was “wasting my opportunity,” doing “drug damage,” and being “a bit of a drifter.” Whether or not those grievances align with Jolie’s, she apparently intends to fight for sole physical custody of the kids. Last year, Jolie starred in and directed herself and Pitt in By the Sea, a passion project about a marriage on the rocks. To head off inevitable questions of long-standing rockiness in her marriage, Jolie told NBC’s Tom Brokaw, “If this was anything close to our real marriage, we wouldn’t have made it.” And yet here we are.
Should we add to this the heap the rumors that dogged Pitt last January when he suddenly looked years younger, reportedly because he’d undergone many sessions with top cosmetic surgeons? A dude who suddenly starts taking better care of his face, body and hygiene? That’s a dude who could definitely be on the prowl–well, at least if you believe those women’s magazine quizzes.
We’ll never know the inner workings of Jolie and Pitt’s relationship. We’ll never know why this chapter of it has ended. All we do know, for now, is that Madame Tussauds wax museum has already separated their figures, sticking the Jolie replica near Nicole Kidman’s waxy likeness and Pitt’s near Morgan Freeman’s. There is no word of a Marion Cotillard figure in the vicinity.