Fame changes people. Or, at least, it changes most people. And really, how can it not? You suddenly find yourself thrust into the spotlight, giving interviews and having people offer to pick things up for you, getting things for free when you can definitely afford them yourself, and having your every move dissected by the media. It might have taken you a while to get there but, by all accounts, it feels like a whirlwind once you reach the top. To ground themselves, sometimes celebs opt not to date the rich and famous. Occasionally, this works out really well. It keeps them humble and gives them a dose of reality. Other times, it can feel limiting to have a “normie” enter the world of glitz and glamour, unaware of the work it takes to make it and stay there, ignorant to the demands and strict schedules, the weeks and months spent away from one another. Since it can really go either way, we’ve got 10 famous couples who chose the former and 10 whose relationships ended up on the trash heap.
Relationships take work no matter who you date, but sometimes, the allure of Hollywood is too strong, the coworkers are too sexy, and your average spouse doesn’t measure up anymore. Other times, they’re exactly what’s needed.
20 LEFT FOR FAME: Kevin Hart & Torrei Hart
Kevin Hart has a problem with staying faithful. Before he was recently outed for cheating on his pregnant second wife Eniko Parrish, Hart allegedly stepped out on his first wife, Torrei Hart, to whom he’d been married for eight years.
The Harts wed in 2003, and while Kevin was definitely acting during their marriage, it was mostly in smaller roles in films, or TV gigs. By 2012 – a year after the divorce was finalized – Hart was making a name for himself as the loud, hilarious, short guy, appearing in major TV shows like Modern Family at first, before getting into big-budget feature films. We’re not saying that there’s a causal link here, but there’s definitely a correlation! For his part, Hart said that he was too young when he first said “I do”, explaining that he was still “all over the place” and “didn’t understand the definition of marriage”.
19 CHOSE NORMAL: Aaron Paul & Lauren Parsekian
His most famous role to date may be that of a meth dealer, but Aaron Paul is a big ol’ sweetheart – just ask Lauren Parsekian! These two good-looking kids met at Coachella of all places in 2013 and secured their neo-fairytale future with a kiss on a carousel.
While Parsekian may not be as big of a name as her husband – whom she married a year after they met – she is still making a name for herself as a do-gooder, by creating the Kind Campaign, which aims to eradicate bullying. While Parsekian definitely looks like she fits in among the Hollywood elite as a blonde beauty, it’s really Paul who can’t stop gushing over his wife, calling her “his world” and talking about how much he loves her. And their love just keeps growing – the couple just welcomed their first child!
18 LEFT FOR FAME: Geena David & Richard Emmolo
Geena Davis has been down the aisle an impressive four times, but the first time she decided to tie the knot was way back in 1982 – and just for one year! She had only one acting credit to her name when she wed restaurateur Richard Emmolo (who we cannot find a picture of!), and soon after their split, she became one of the most highly-sought actresses in Hollywood!
An affinity for her costars led to a marriage with actor Jeff Goldblum (with whom she starred alongside in 1986’s The Fly), another marriage to director Renny Harlan that lasted throughout the mid-1990s, and finally, her latest marriage to plastic surgeon Reza Jarrahy. Davis and Jarrahy have been together since 2001 and have three children together, proving that sometimes, it’s the fourth time that’s the charm!
17 CHOSE NORMAL: Eddie Redmayne & Hannah Bagshawe
In a very British love story, actor Eddie Redmayne and his publicist wife Hannah Bagshawe have actually known each other since they were classmates together – Redmayne at the all-boys Eton College, and Bagshawe at the neighboring girls' school. Like another couple on this list, Redmayne caught the attention of his future wife by walking in a fashion show – shirtless. While it might make Redmayne fans swoon now, the actor himself describes his past self as “pasty” and “freckly” – but Bagshawe certainly noticed!
The pair began dating in 2012 after 12 years of friendship, bonding over a love of theatre and the arts, and married in 2014. They had to have a quick honeymoon, however, since Redmayne was up for so many awards the following year! Like many of the couples who chose “normal” people on this list, they’ve grown their family, too, by welcoming a daughter named Iris.
16 LEFT FOR FAME: Demi Moore & Freddy Moore
We know all about Demi Moore’s marriage to fellow actor Bruce Willis, which ended in divorce but also three daughters. Then, of course, we know all about the highly publicized relationship and marriage to the much-younger Ashton Kutcher, which again ended in divorce amid allegations of infidelity and drug abuse.
However, did you know that Moore has actually been married three times? Before Ashton and before Bruce, Demi was wed to the little-known singer Freddy Moore in 1980 when she was only 17 years old! (He was 12 years her senior.) The two were married for five years before divorcing – and before Moore solidified her spot among the 1980s Brat Pack, thanks to appearances in films like 1985’s St. Elmo’s Fire. Then, of course, Moore married Willis in 1987 and began some of the highest-grossing gigs of her career, with Ghost, Indecent Proposal, and Disclosure.
15 CHOSE NORMAL: Ellen Pompeo & Chris Ivery
Way back before Ellen Pompeo became the title character in the hit TV show Grey’s Anatomy (which is on its 14th season!), Ellen Pompeo was just a girl in a grocery store in 2003 when she first met future husband Chris Ivery.
While Ivery isn’t nearly as wealthy as Pompeo – or as famous – he isn’t just some Average Joe, owing to his successful career as a music producer who just so happened to have attended Harvard! Not too shabby, Dr. Grey!
Taking a page out of her famous character’s book, Pompeo opted for a low-key wedding to Ivery, deciding to tie the knot in a secret ceremony in New York’s City Hall without a single guest in attendance in 2007. The pair now has three children, all of whom share the last names of both parents.
14 LEFT FOR FAME: Jesse Williams & Aryn Drake-Lee
Another Grey’s Anatomy alum on our list, we have Jesse Williams! In all fairness to the dreamy actor, he was experiencing quite a bit of success while he was still married to real estate agent Aryn Drake-Lee, whom he wed in 2012 – after he’d already been on the hit show for three years.
Despite this, the pair has since separated and are now estranged, with Drake-Lee seeking sole custody of the couple’s two children and Williams in the midst of romancing brown-eyed beauty and actress Minka Kelly.
While Williams hasn’t quite left Drake-Lee for fame, he has definitely gotten his name in the news more and more lately, thanks to his eloquent political speeches and remarks regarding black rights and the Black Lives Matter movement.
13 CHOSE NORMAL: Matt Damon & Luciana Barroso
To hear actor Matt Damon talk about his wife Luciana Barroso is to believe in fate. While filming the comedy Stuck On You, Damon entered a bar with friends – where Barroso just so happened to be the bartender. “I literally saw her across a crowded room,” Damon recalled of their chance meeting. “I don’t know how else our paths would have crossed if that didn’t happen.” Damon hadn’t wanted to go out and had been dragged along, something he says makes him very lucky.
Damon and Barroso ended up marrying in 2005 and had three daughters, in addition to the other daughter Barroso brought with her from a previous relationship. She’s always on his arm at the multitude of awards shows he’s attended and the couple is so in love that the renewed their vows in 2013!
12 LEFT FOR FAME: Harrison Ford & Mary Marquardt
His most high-profile romance is arguably with Calista Flockhart, the tiny actress who is best known for playing the titular Ally McBeal, but it might shock you to know that Harrison Ford was actually married twice beforehand – and the first time to a complete unknown!
Back in 1964, before Ford had a single acting credit to his name and was still working as a carpenter, he tied the knot with chef Mary Marquardt. The two stayed married for an astonishing 15 years – just until he really started reaping the benefits of his success with the iconic Star Wars franchise. By 1979, the two divorced, and even throughout the marriage, Ford wasn’t faithful. According to costar Carrie Fisher in her latest memoir, it was while filming in 1977 that the two struck up an affair, and while Ford and Marquardt split shortly afterward, Fisher has maintained that their tryst had nothing to do with it.
11 CHOSE NORMAL: Reese Witherspoon & Jim Toth
While Jim Toth isn’t famous, he’s been in proximity to fame throughout most of his professional life, since he works as a Hollywood agent. However, when compared to the star power of Reese Witherspoon, he certainly qualifies as someone “normal”!
In a meet-cute that belongs in one of Witherspoon’s romantic comedies, Toth came to her rescue when the two met at a party, by interrupting a drunk man who was aggressively hitting on Witherspoon. Turn out, the drunk guy was Toth’s friend who had dealt with a bad breakup, and Toth excused the guy’s behavior while also smoothly introducing himself. After her marriage to actor Ryan Phillippe dissolved amid allegations of infidelity, Toth has proven to be a stabilizing force, and the Oscar winner and agent wed a year after they met, in 2011. They’ve since had a son together, who joins Witherspoon’s son and daughter with Phillippe.
10 LEFT FOR FAME: Drew Barrymore & Jeremy Thomas
Drew Barrymore has been famous since she was a child, coming from a long line of famous people, and so it’s a little difficult to put her on this list, but hear us out.
Before she reached the great success she would find in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Barrymore was relegated to playing the “bad girl” in a series of B-movies, riding out the reputation she’d earned as a child drug user who had checked herself into rehab at the age of 13. Back in 1994, though, the actress and director was only 19 when she decided to marry Welsh bar owner Jeremy Thomas, who was 31 years old and whom she had only known for six weeks. Not surprisingly, the two split just two months later. Barrymore ended up marrying two more times, with a couple high-profile romances in between but is single again.
9 CHOSE NORMAL: Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Tasha McCauley
Joseph Gordon-Levitt may be the more recognizable name, but make no mistake: his wife, Tasha McCauley is actually a way bigger deal.
McCauley is the co-founder of the company Fellow Robots and the director of the company GeoSlim. Clearly, she’s putting her degrees in robotics and business education to good use! Oh, and did we mention that she also speaks three languages? (English, Spanish, and Arabic, if you were wondering.)
If you were in the dark about Gordon-Levitt being married in the first place, it’s because the actor is incredibly private about his personal life, so much so that the couple stepping out together for a charity event made international news. Since getting married in 2014, the actor and the tech genius have had two sons together, whose names they have also kept under wraps.
8 LEFT FOR FAME: Johnny Depp & Lori Anne Allison
We know all about the tumultuous marriage between Johnny Depp and actress Amber Heard, something that came as a bit of a shock following the 14-year-long relationship the actor had with model and actress Vanessa Paradis, with whom he shares two children. Prior to both of those, of course, we have his engagement to Winona Ryder which saw the inking of his infamous “wino forever” tattoo, but even before that, before he was even on our collective radar, Depp was married to a woman named Lori Anne Allison.
Depp wed the makeup artist in 1983 when he was just 20 and a year away from his breakthrough role in A Nightmare on Elm Street. The marriage was short-lived, with the couple splitting in 1986, which was a year from Depp’s other big break, that of Officer Tom Hanson in the TV show 21 Jump Street.
7 CHOSE NORMAL: George Clooney & Amal Alamuddin
While Amal Alamuddin might be a household name now, after her 2014 marriage to mega-star George Clooney, that wasn’t always the case. She certainly looks the part of Hollywood arm candy with her big barrel waves and gorgeous dresses, but Alamuddin is even smarter than she is beautiful if you can believe it!
As a relatively un-famous, Oxford-educated human rights lawyer, Alamuddin met Clooney in Lake Como, where the actor has an estate, and he began chasing her for months, sending letters and calling to get her attention. The formerly famous bachelor is now a devoted and loving husband and a new dad to two twins with Alamuddin, Ella, and Alexander! He might be the one with an Oscar to his name, but she’s certainly no slouch when it comes to impressing just about everyone she meets!
6 LEFT FOR FAME: Jennifer Lopez & Ojani Noa
Jennifer Lopez has always been a sucker for love, flinging herself into high profile romances with men like third husband Marc Anthony, actor Ben Affleck (which earned them the first celebrity portmanteau of ‘Bennifer’), P.Diddy, backup dancer Casper Smart, and baseball player Alex Rodriguez. But, before all that glitz and glam, Lopez fell hard for a simple Cuban waiter by the name of Ojani Noa.
In 1997, Noa and Lopez exchanged “I dos”, just before her big break with the film Selena. Lopez hadn’t even released her first mega-successful album and was probably best known as a Fly Girl at this point. Alas, the marriage was not to be, and the couple split only a year later. Of course, since he’s probably kicking himself for letting J.Lo get away, Noa recently entered into the court system – and won! – the rights to distribute videos of their intimate time together!
5 CHOSE NORMAL: Elizabeth Banks & Max Handelman
As a film producer and American sportswriter, Max Handelman isn’t exactly a grocery store clerk or real estate agent, but his job wasn't the thing that drew in the gorgeous and talented actress Elizabeth Banks. In fact, the two met on Banks’ first day of college at the University of Pennsylvania in 1993 and have been together ever since!
Handelman proposed 10 years after the couple met, saying he owed it to Banks to completely surprise her. Sweetly enough, the couple chose to read letters they had written to one another during that first year they met in lieu of vows. Despite having her star reach ever higher thanks to roles in front of the camera with The Hunger Games franchise and stepping behind it for the massively successful Pitch Perfect movies (which Handelman produced), Banks has stuck with her husband and the two have two sons together.
4 LEFT FOR FAME: Blake Shelton & Kaynette Williams
Blake Shelton’s failed marriage to fellow country star Miranda Lambert is what has gotten the most press, alongside his whirlwind romance with No Doubt frontwoman Gwen Stefani, but if you look far enough back, you’ll see that Lambert wasn’t the first woman to get the country boy to exchange vows.
High school sweethearts who tied the knot in a small ceremony in Tennessee in 2003, Shelton and first wife Kaynette Williams had a marriage that was both personal and professional, with Williams managing her hubby’s fledgling career. Of course, once a cheater, always a cheater, right? According to Williams, who was the one who filed for divorce three years later, Shelton was “guilty of inappropriate marital conduct” – perhaps with Lambert, whom he had met in 2005! Of course, after the split, Shelton skyrocketed to fame, where he’s been ever since!
3 CHOSE NORMAL: Gal Gadot & Yaron Varsano
She wasn’t always a massive success, but thanks to her interpretation of Wonder Woman in the recent Marvel hit, Gal Gadot has become a household name and a symbol of feminism for many young girls, making her light years ahead of her husband Yaron Varsano.
Gadot and Varsano met at a party in the Israeli desert and, while Gadot was interested in the 10-years-older Varsano, she wasn’t ready to be serious. He, on the other hand, knew exactly what he wanted. According to Gadot, on their second date, the hotelier and businessman told his future wife that he wouldn’t wait more than two years to propose. He followed through on his promise and the couple walked down the aisle in 2008! As the proud husband or Gadot and father of two daughters, Varsano can’t stop gushing about his very own Wonder Woman.
2 LEFT FOR FAME: Kim Kardashian & Damon Thomas
Considering the fact that her life and the lives of all her family members are broadcast for entertainment, we’ll forgive you for forgetting that Kim Kardashian is actually a three-time wife since the first marriage wasn’t ever aired!
We know all about Kardashian’s infamous 72-day marriage to NBA player Kris Humphries, but what about her first trip down the aisle with music producer Damon Thomas? Eschewing the Kardashian love of spectacle, Kim actually eloped with Thomas when she was just 19! No cameras, no lucrative TV deal – nothing. Back in 2000 when Kim was 19 and Thomas was 29, the two wed in Vegas before splitting just three years later. In 2010, details came out that Thomas was abusive, both verbally and physically. Considering how far Kim’s star has risen in the wake of the split – and how she’s become a total boss – we’d say she was, fortunately, the one to come out on top!
1 CHOSE NORMAL: Prince William & Kate Middleton
Okay, obviously Kate Middleton is no longer considered “normal” thanks to the scrutiny she’s endured by the media, the pages and pages of speculation about her pregnancies and fashion choices, but once upon a time, the Duchess of Cambridge was just another student with Prince William who happened to catch his eye by strutting her stuff walking down a runway in a sheer dress for a classmate’s project.
Like everything else with the royal family, the courtship between the two lovebirds was dissected by the media, who analyzed their first public outing (skiing, naturally), and paid attention to the ups and downs that normally occur in one’s early twenties. Coming from no royal or noble stock, Middleton was a commoner and therefore “normal”, but now, a style icon and William’s best friend, wife, and mother of his children, she’s certainly not “normal” anymore!
Sources: instyle.com, elle.com, popsugar.com