Sometimes a short-lived on-set affair with a co-star can be a tricky matter. If things sour, as they often do in Hollywood, reuniting those same lovers on-screen can generate buzz for a project, rekindle old desires and even sabotage entire productions. On the upside, however, many times the palpable heat and abrasion involved can lead to some amazing onscreen performances.
On television, things are slightly different. When Chad Michael Murray and Sophia Bush began their off-screen love affair during the first season of One Tree Hill, it was likely a very exciting time for both. The couple were wed in year two, then divorced by the start of season three. Good thing there would only be five more years ahead. Asked by People Magazine about the difficulties involved, Bush said “My job is my job, and my personal life is my personal life, and I keep them separate… It’s not always easy, but it’s my work.” At least here we had the benefit of not taking their relationship, or series, all that seriously. It resembled a pack of twenty-somethings acting like adolescents while pretending to be teenagers. After all, she soon became attached to Murray’s onscreen brother from the same show, James Lafferty.
And when Michael Vartan and Jennifer Garner filmed their wedding scene on Alias just months after parting ways as lovers – awkwardness was likely the side dish being served at craft services. It probably didn’t help matters that she was pregnant with Ben Affleck’s child at the time. But both of these situations arose for actors who were contractually-obligated to an ongoing series… What’s it like when the reunion is entirely voluntary?
On the cinematic side, producers often hope such pairings can generate heat for their film. As to whether both parties will accept the job, that probably has much to do with how well they ended the affair. When Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz went their separate ways after a short-lived romp, conditions were good for them to one day work together. The couple was dismissive of early concerns about their age-skewed match – plus their eventual parting seemed to be fairly trauma-free. As he continued to work on his comedic chops at SNL (now one of their most frequent guests historically) and she reigned as America’s First Lady of Funny, the stage was set for a reunion. The project shared their appreciation for irreverent and even sophomoric humor. Bad Teacher may not have been the best movie, but it easily demonstrated the sparks that kept this unconventional team together. Asked about working together, Diaz was direct with reporters at the 2011 CinemaCon in Vegas. “The only thing that I think we were concerned with was what people would make up. The stories that people would make up about us. We were hoping that wouldn’t happen, because we’re there to work.”
For Drew Barrymore and Justin Long, people just wanted things to work out. They looked good together, they seemed good together. During their on-again off-again relationship, plans were made and cancelled to work together on a small independent production with Barrymore directing. Though the film was made without him, similar concerns surrounded their next project – a romantic comedy of all things. 2010’s Going The Distance came and went, with little fanfare. Many felt the awkwardness of their sporadic love affair was apparent onscreen, where it clashed with the central story. While some speculated around its release that the two would rekindle their romance, instead she married art consultant Will Kopelman earlier this year while Justin began dating Brokeback Mountain’s Kate Mara.
For some A-List couples, it is safe to assume that seeing them together again, in any capacity, is highly unlikely. You probably won’t ever catch Demi Moore doing a cameo in Dude Where’s My Car 2 – though stranger things have happened. If anyone holds the trophy for most times working with a former lover, it’d have to be Diane Keaton. During the 70s and 80s she dated, detached and then later worked with Woody Allen, Al Pacino and Warren Beatty. Whether this points to a surplus of maturity on her behalf, or is just a reflection of the casual nature of their relationships, that remains up to you.
Will King is a television and media critic who splits his time as a stand up comic. He collects conspiracy theories and claims to have invented Teflon. In his spare time he follows presidential politics and all traffic signs. He lives in Charlotte, NC.
Selma: Hmmm… how many of these relationships do you think ended because of affairs? I’m thinking probably more then one would think! Are you feeling it, too?! Okay, okay… affairs are usually a “cry wolf” type thing but but STILL… it happens ALOT! I recommend this DiscoveryGame to celeb couples so they can investigate the key factors involved in their partner potentially having an affair.
Giulia: Celebrities seem to have all… great relationships, beautiful houses, incredible careers, amazing kids… The American Dream, really! I recommend this DiscoveryGame for all celebrity couples to remind themselves of those early magical moments that made them fall in love!