Design & Living / In Pictures

True Romance: The Best On and Off-Screen Couples

Following the release of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s intimate drama By The Sea, we consider our favourite films starring real-life couples

Pin It
By The Sea

Movie romance often seems a thing of dreams and fairy tales; when the screen goes to black and the credits roll out that’s usually the end of our fantasy couple’s relationship, but there are always exceptions. In fact, there are those who take their on-screen magnetism into real life and sometimes even go on to make another film together. Granted that when Sigmund Freud stated that 'all that matters is love and work' he likely wasn’t thinking about Hollywood actors falling for each other on set, but his statement nonetheless backs up the argument.

While the relationships of many celebrated A-list couples have ended on a sour note (R.I.P Bennifer), there are those whose chemistry translates on and off-screen more successfully. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have stood as the undisputed über-couple since falling in love during the filming of Mr. & Mrs. Smith back in 2005. Since that fateful shoot, the pair have done everything together besides co-starring in the same film, until now.

Written and directed by Jolie, who also stars opposite her real-life husband, By The Sea is an honest melodrama about bereavement and love. Set in the mid-1970s, the film follows Vanessa, a former dancer, and Roland, a struggling American writer, as they grow apart and come back together while on vacation in a seaside village in the south of France. Inspired by the celebration of Angelina Jolie’s latest directorial venture, we chart the best in on and off-screen romances in cinematic history. 

Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling: The Notebook 
In Nick Cassavetes’ 2004 heart-breaking tale of forbidden love, Ryan Gosling plays Noah, a blue-collar mill worker who falls in love with Allie (Rachel McAdams), an upper-class teenage girl on a family holiday in South Carolina. It’s the 1940s and their passionate romance is tested by their social differences, but against all odds Allie and Noah fight for their love and ultimately let it “take them away together.” While the film made Gosling and McAdams one of cinema’s most iconic couples, their off-screen spark was far from love at first sight – in fact, it’s said that Gosling wanted McAdams replaced because they lacked chemistry.

Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise: Eyes Wide Shut
The Brad and Angelina of the 90s, Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise began dating in 1989, when Cruise met his second-wife-to-be on the set of Days of Thunder. A year later they were married and in 1992 they played lovers on-screen once again in Far And Away. However, it was in Stanley Kubrick’s 1999 epic erotic thriller Eyes Wide Shut that they delivered their most powerful coupling act. Dealing with uncertainties about fidelity, sex and marriage, the controversial film is said to have pushed the two stars to a breaking point, both in fiction and in reality, until they sadly parted ways in 2001.

Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell: Overboard
In Garry Marshall’s 1987 romantic comedy, Kurt Russell is Dean, a carpenter hired by a spoiled heiress (Goldie Hawn in the role of Joanna Stayton) to build a shoe closet on her luxury yacht. Joanna refuses to pay him and sets sail, but shortly after she falls overboard and is struck with amnesia. After rescuing her from the sea, Dean sees an opportunity for a little revenge and convinces Joanna that she's his wife. Eventually she regains her memory, but decides to stay with Dean. Having been in a relationship since 1983, Hawn and Russell didn’t have to put up too much of an act for the film. Despite never tying the knot, Hawn and her longtime beau remain one of Hollywood's most enduring couples, having being together for 32 years.

Christine Taylor and Ben Stiller: Zoolander
After meeting his lady love on the set of a 1999 TV pilot that was never picked up, Christine Taylor and Ben Stiller co-starred again two years later in the 2001 comedy classic Zoolander. Directed by Stiller, the film follows dimwitted male model Derek Zoolander (Stiller) as he sets to kill the Prime Minister of Malaysia, while falling in love for journalist Matilda Jeffries (Taylor) in the process. Although Stiller once stated that their love started out gradually, he was soon head-over-heels and proposed to Taylor while rehearsing for Meet the Parents after asking her intimidating father for permission – he later admitted it felt like Meet the Parents in real life. A wedding and two kids later, the couple will appear again in the upcoming Zoolander 2.

Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan: Ruby Sparks
In the 2012 fanciful comedy-drama, Paul Dano plays Calvin Weir-Fields, an anxious young novelist battling writer’s block. On his therapist’s advice, Calvin creates a bouncy, flame-haired female character and names her Ruby Sparks. The story is what happens when the girl of his dreams comes to life and they fall in love. While Dano and Kazan had been dating for several years prior to the movie and had already appeared together in Meek's Cutoff, Kazan wrote the script to specifically play the role of Ruby across from her boyfriend.

By The Sea is in cinemas now.

Newsletter