Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie broke hearts the world over when the Oscar-winning actress filed for divorce on Sept. 19, 2016. The powerful couple was together 12 years, though only married for two. They share six gorgeous children (Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh, and twins Knox and Vivienne), and let’s face it, these two were among the most beautiful pairings on the planet, right? So what happened?
Jolie wasn’t messing around with the split, initially hiring celebrity divorce lawyer Laura Wasser to rep her — the same lawyer who represented Johnny Depp in his ugly divorce from actress Amber Heard. That means it’s serious. Sources told TMZ that Jolie’s decision to end the marriage stemmed from disagreements with Pitt about parenting and his “interactions with the children,” but it turns out this once-golden couple may have had a laundry list of reasons why it just didn’t work. Let’s take a closer look at the shocking downfall of Brangelina.
They were built on a faulty foundation
You know the story by now: In 2003, Brad Pitt, who was then married to Friends star Jennifer Aniston, signed on to star in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Originally, Nicole Kidman was set to play opposite the blond hunk, but Pitt reportedly didn’t feel enough chemistry with her and dropped out of the film. Kidman moved on to Stepford Wives. According to News.com.au, Producer Arnon Milchan said “immediately after he cast [Jolie] as the female lead, Pitt called him back to say he was happy to play Mr. to her Mrs.” Filming started in January 2004, and rumors soon began to swirl that the pair was hooking up.
In May 2004, Pitt took then-wife Aniston to the Troy premiere, possibly to quiet the scandalous chatter. That August, paparazzi captured Pitt and Jolie looking cozy, which Mr. and Mrs. Smith insiders dismissed as being in character. In December 2004, Pitt vacationed with Aniston, and one month later, in January 2005, they announced their separation. That March, Aniston filed for divorce. In April 2005, Pitt and Jolie were photographed vacationing with Jolie’s son, Maddox, and the rest is history.
Any relationship that starts with either partner cheating (or even just having an emotional affair) is bound to have trust issues at some point, right?
They couldn’t keep their stories straight
The Jolie-Aniston-Pitt love triangle made tabloids explode. Despite all parties denying that there was cheating involved, Pitt and Jolie had a hard time keeping their stories straight. They both initially claimed nothing happened until after Pitt and Aniston divorced, but in a 2007 Vogue cover story (via People), Jolie made it clear that a deep relationship had developed during filming (when Pitt was still married).
“Because of the film, we ended up being brought together to do all these crazy things, and I think we found this strange friendship and partnership that kind of just suddenly happened,” she said. “I think a few months in I realized, ‘God, I can’t wait to get to work.’ … Anything we had to do with each other, we just found a lot of joy in it together and a lot of real teamwork. We just became kind of a pair.”
Media scrutiny makes any relationship harder, and for a long time, these two courted it — remember that infamous W magazine spread that starred Pitt and Jolie as a sexy married couple — the one that came out as Pitt and Aniston were falling apart? It looks like the press Brangelina loved so much in the beginning came back to bite them later.
They ‘tested’ their marriage by working together again
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie co-starred in 2015’s By the Sea, which may have been a case of art imitating life. The film focused on a broken relationship between an unhappy couple. When asked about it, Brangelina was quick to deny any problems, leading a lot of us to think now that the lady (and gentleman) doth protested too much.
“We’re actually very very stable and these aren’t our issues,” she told Tom Brokaw on Today in October 2015. Jolie later told the Daily Mail that making the film “was our way of testing ourselves. We knew that if we could get through this, we’d come out even stronger and happier. And we did. We’ve always liked putting ourselves through challenges, even though it was maybe a little more dangerous for us as a couple.” She also added, “I don’t think we want to go through it again though.”