Features and Columns · Movies

A Brief History of Good Movies Featuring Real Couples

As John Krasinski and Emily Blunt’s ‘A Quiet Place’ hit theaters, we looked at other movie star couples who worked together.
Real Movie Couples
By  · Published on April 9th, 2018

Offscreen romances have been the source of scandals and gossip since Hollywood began, but many of the ones we remember are the couples that made movies together. They give us a tangible reminder of their love, whether it was a fleeting affair or a longtime marriage. Some couples have proven to have awful onscreen chemistry once they work together, but not the following actors who’ve made the best films together as lovers.

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman are a young, sexually charged married couple in Kubrick’s last film Eyes Wide Shut. Married at the time of the film, they had been together since they made Days of Thunder together in 1990. Kubrick was asked to cast a real movie star for the leading role and after Cruise brought Kidman to dinner at Kubrick’s mansion, he gave them the starring roles.

Despite being married as a fictional couple, too, Kubrick directed them separately to show their distrust on screen. Cruise was never allowed on set during Kidman’s sex scenes and she was forebode to tell him any details about the shoots. The movie’s opening weekend was Kubrick’s best of his career,  no doubt the leading couple’s fame had something to do with it. Kidman and Cruise would divorce in 2001.

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep (1946)

One of classic Hollywood’s most famous couples, Bogie and Bacall made four films together after meeting on the set of Howard Hawks’ To Have and Have Not. Lauren Bacall was just 19 and completely new to Hollywood when she fell in love with notable star Humphrey Bogart, who was 44. She never minded the huge age gap, always felt like-minded to the mature actor even when she was so young. They got married a year after they met on set in 1944.

Their next film together, The Big Sleep is considered one of the best noirs ever adapted from legendary detective fiction author Raymond Chandler’s novel with the same title. Bogie plays the stoic and hard-boiled detective Philip Marlowe and Bacall the mysterious woman Vivien he is working for.

The couple’s notoriety was exploited by the studio, who demanded more scenes be filmed with Bacall before the release so that she would have a bigger presence in the film than she did in the book. Bacall remained married to Bogart until his death. She had affairs with other celebrities after he died, but never remarried.

Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. in Scooby-Doo (2002)

While the movies they made together aren’t as highly regarded as the previous couples’, their story is too cute not to mention. Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze, Jr. met when filming I Know What You Did Last Summer in 1997 and married in 2002 when the live-action version of Scooby-Doo came out. They were aptly cast as Fred and Daphne for the film and give us fun performances everyone who was a kid in the 2000s remembers.

While engaged in 2001, Prinze appeared on Howard Stern’s radio show where the host bet him $1 million that his marriage to Gellar wouldn’t last and if they made it past 10 years, he would pay him. Surprising Stern and defying the common outcome of Hollywood marriages today, Gellar and Prinze have been married for 16 years now with a family.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in Cleopatra (1963)

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were both married when they met while filming Cleopatra in 1962, but that didn’t stop them from falling in love. Spotted sunbathing together on a boat by paparazzi in Rome, their affair became one of the talks of Hollywood immediately. Taylor was known for her many affairs, including being with “friend” Debbie Reynolds’ husband Eddie Fisher after her own husband died.

The legend goes that their first kiss happened on-screen as Taylor played the title character and Burton as Mark Antony and continued long after the director yelled cut, shocking everyone on set. Their budding romance made the film a sensation in the States. Eventually, they divorced their current partners and married in 1964. Their passionate marriage didn’t last forever, though, as they divorced (for a second time) in 1976.

Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth in The Last Song (2010)

In a more recent film, famous couple Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth starred in the Nicholas Sparks romance The Last Song. They met on set in 2009, like every other couple on this list. They’ve been a source for gossip every since, having multiple breakups and multiple engagements since they officially started dating in 2010.

Their only film together finds Miley Cyrus as a teen reconnecting with her father and falls in love with Hemsworth’s character in the process. In typical Sparks fashion, it has a teary ending and further helped Hemsworth’s stardom. As of late, the couple is back together and engaged again.

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in The Long, Hot Summer (1958)

Another secretive but famous couple is Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. They would make 11 films together, but their first was The Long, Hot Summer. A drama set in the sweltering South, Paul Newman plays another bad boy who attracts rich girl Joanne Woodward. Their chemistry is undeniable, but this wasn’t the first time they met.

Back in 1953, on Broadway, Woodward ran into a sweaty Newman in her agent’s office. They met again on set in 1957 and married a year later when the movie came out once Newman’s then-wife agreed to a divorce. Their marriage became a Hollywood golden couple, lasting 50 years until Newman’s death in 2008.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)

Their divorce recently came as a shock to many, but Brangelina’s legacy as one of Hollywood’s most famous couples will last. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt began their relationship just before Mr. & Mrs. Smith was released in 2005, but rumors of their relationship started on set while Pitt was still married to Jennifer Aniston.

They play two married assassins hired to kill each other in an action movie more famous for their relationship than perhaps their performances. Their relationship lasted 12 years after that, but they only starred together in one more film, 2015’s By the Sea. 

Laurance Olivier and Vivien Leigh in That Hamilton Woman (1941)

Both intelligent and witty British actors, Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh had chemistry from the start, but like many other couples were forbidden love since Olivier was still married. Spunky Vivien is said to have been determined to break of Olivier’s first marriage. Eventually, she was successful. Two years after Leigh’s famous role in Gone With the Wind, which Olivier had a hand in scoring for her, they made That Hamilton Woman together.

Similar to their real relationship, the duo plays a doomed couple during the Napoleonic Wars in Britain. Olivier’s character is also still married when he meets Leigh’s character in the film and it follows their affair in a typical melodramatic fashion.

There are many other famous couples who have starred together, but one thing is clear: offscreen romances make what we see on screen all the more believable.

Related Topics: , , , , ,

Emily Kubincanek is a Senior Contributor for Film School Rejects and resident classic Hollywood fan. When she's not writing about old films, she works as a librarian and film archivist. You can find her tweeting about Cary Grant and hockey here: @emilykub_