Nothing excites a hardcore fan quite like real-life co-star romance! Most of the time, the chemistry we see (and start to #ship) between two characters in a movie or on a TV show is limited to the screen. But every now and then, the stars align, the heavens open and the two co-stars we love seeing together in a fictional setting actually fall in love, for real.
The only downside to this is that if these real-life couples don’t last, it’s devastating. The following couples are among the most famous to fall in love on set, though they did not stay together until forever after.
In a few cases, we saw it coming, and in others, we were shocked half to death. Though their acting turned into real attraction eventually, it just wasn’t meant to be. We guess some things really should be left to the world of fantasy!
15 Zac Efron & Vanessa Hudgens: No Longer in High School
Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens were probably the most seriously worshipped teen couple of the mid 2000s. These two started dating after meeting on Disney Channel’s High School Musical, where they played the innocent Troy and Gabriella. Fans everywhere were supportive of the couple and insanely jealous, but Hudgens has now revealed that it wasn’t as perfect as everyone thought. “I went through a phase when I was really mean because I was so fed up,” she told the New York Times. “Girls were running after him, and I was giving them death stares. Then I realized that’s not what that’s about. Spread the love, be a good person, they support you, be nice.”
All the pressure ended up weighing down too heavily on the young stars, who called it quits in 2010, after five years together. They’ve both been attached to other stars since the breakup, though are yet to be involved in a relationship as iconic.
14 Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie: The Couple to End All Others
The relationship of this former couple garnered such status that you probably forgot they initially fell in love on set! For over a decade the world was obsessed with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, or Brangelina. Things heated up between them when they played a sexy couple in Mr. & Mrs. Smith back in 2004, and nobody could deny how well they suited each other. The only problem was Pitt was engaged to Jennifer Aniston at the time. In 2005, they eventually divorced, and Pitt openly started dating Jolie later that year, appearing in a feature in W magazine posing as her husband.
Before the year was out, Pitt legally adopted Jolie’s adopted sons Maddox and Zahara, changing their last names to Jolie-Pitt. Jolie announced her pregnancy with the couple’s first biological child in 2006, and the couple tied the knot in 2016. Tragically for Brangelina shippers everywhere, the union came to an end in 2016 when Jolie filed for divorce.
13 Rachel Bilson & Adam Brody: Seth & Summer Forever
This is one relationship we so desperately wanted to work out. Unfortunately, it takes more than the tears of fans to make a relationship stick, and while these two had unbeatable chemistry on-screen and we’re sure their characters are still happily married in another universe, they just weren’t meant to be together in our world.
Rachel Bilson and Adam Brody met and fell in love while filming everybody’s fave teen drama from when they were in junior high, The O.C. Bilson played Summer Roberts, with whom Seth Cohen (played by Brody) had been madly in love forever. We all felt like the luckiest fans in the world when Bilson and Brody started dating for real, since it was like part of The O.C. had come to life. Sadly, they broke up in 2006, before the series had finished filming. At least Seth and Summer lived happily ever after!
12 Ryan Gosling & Rachel McAdams: From Hate to Love
If there was one couple the world wanted to last, it was Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. These two met while starring in the Nicholas Sparks adaptation, The Notebook, but unlike some of the other couples on this list, didn’t experience love at first sight. When they first met, it was reported that the two actors found each other obnoxious and rubbed each other up the wrong way. Gosling even asked the director to bring in another actress to replace McAdams—that’s how much he couldn’t stand her! But after some time spent filming some intensely passionate scenes together, more than just sparks of conflict flew between them.
They started dating officially after filming wrapped, but it seems that without the influence of their characters, these two just didn’t have a lot in common. In 2008, the relationship ended, and Gosling fell in love with new co-star Eva Mendes.
11 Reese Witherspoon & Ryan Phillippe: Young Love
If you want to get technical, Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe were already dating before they started filming Cruel Intentions in the late 1990s. But you could argue that the impassioned scenes they had to film together helped to bring them closer and realize just how attracted to each other they really were! Witherspoon played innocent good-girl Annette Hargrove, while Phillippe played charismatic playboy Sebastian Valmont, but their relationship was not to be, thanks to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Kathryn Merteuil.
In real life, Witherspoon and Phillippe married before the movie even premiered in 1999. They had two children, Ava and Deacon, but sadly divorced in 2007. The couple are still on good terms for the sake of their family, and sometimes even get up to family activities, like strolling through Central Park where several scenes from Cruel Intentions were shot. Ah, the memories!
10 Emma Stone & Andrew Garfield: Friendly Exes
Sparks flew between Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield when they starred in The Amazing Spider-Man together. Playing Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker respectively, the two actors soon realized that they were no longer acting when filming their love scenes. Garfield opened up about it to MTV: “We got on really well as people in between [takes]. That was the fun stuff: In between, we’d just mess around, and I felt, ‘Ah, this is different.’ I wasn’t really aware what was happening in the screen test. She keeps you on your toes, and that wakes you up. That was the beginning,” he said.
The relationship between them lasted four happy years before the couple split in 2015. Though they’re no longer officially together, they have been labelled Hollywood’s friendliest exes, since they appear to be on such fantastic terms. When Stone won her Golden Globe in 2017, Garfield even gave her a standing ovation!
9 Jennifer Garner & Ben Affleck: Decade-Long Love
Bennifer isn’t just a term reserved for J.Lo and Ben Affleck! In 2003, after splitting from Lopez, Ben Affleck worked on Daredevil with another Jen: actress Jennifer Garner. The two already knew each other from working on Pearl Harbor, but according to an interview Affleck did with Playboy, the Daredevil set was where the magic happened. “That’s where I found my wife. We met on Pearl Harbor, which people hate, but we fell in love on Daredevil.”
Two years later in 2005, the new Bennifer married. Garner gave birth to their first daughter, Violet, in December of that year. A few years later in 2009, second child Seraphina Rose came along, followed by son Samuel in 2012. Sadly, after ten years of marriage, the couple called it quits in 2015. That’s quite an achievement in Hollywood! According to both exes, they’re on good terms and their children are coping well with the divorce.
8 Johnny Depp & Winona Ryder: ‘90s Power Couple
The chemistry between Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder in Edward Scissorhands was hard to miss—he played a bumbling artificial man with sweet intentions and childlike innocence, and she played the pretty, kind-hearted daughter of the woman who took him in. Add in her douchey boyfriend Jim, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a timeless love story! Unfortunately, the romance between their characters was doomed to fail thanks to the nosy neighbors, but in real life, Depp and Ryder experienced slightly more success.
They didn’t meet on the set of Edward Scissorhands; they met the previous year at a premiere. But they famously fell in love, dated, and eventually got engaged while filming. Depp even had “Winona Forever” tattooed on his arm! Sadly, this relationship didn’t last the ages, and in 1993, they called the engagement off. Depp then altered his tattoo to read “Wino Forever”, and Ryder later labelled him her “first heartbreak.”
7 Blake Lively & Penn Badgley: S & Lonely Boy Call It Quits
Here’s another couple that emerged from a mid-2000s teen drama! Blake Lively and Penn Badgley starred together in New York City’s slightly more sophisticated answer to The O.C., Gossip Girl. The actors played Selena van der Woodsen and Dan Humphrey respectively, who first got together in the Season One and then maintained an attraction (except when Dan dated Blair—yikes!) throughout the entire series, finally tying the knot in the last episode.
In real life, Lively and Badgley started dating in 2007 and maintained a relationship for three years. They initially portrayed themselves as just friends to the media, but even without an anonymous gossip source linked to everyone’s phones, the truth came out in 2008. Fans of the show were on cloud nine! After the break up, they stayed good friends and luckily for the wellbeing of the show, things weren’t awkward on set.
6 Heath Ledger & Michelle Williams: Tragic Love Story
The late Heath Ledger and actress Michelle Williams may have played husband and wife on-screen in Brokeback Mountain, but the steamy scenes played out between Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, whose characters had a secret romantic relationship. Even though there wasn’t any real love between Ledger and Williams in the film, things were definitely happening behind the scenes!
“Michelle fell off the sled,” said screenwriter Diana Ossana. “and at the bottom of the hill she was crying… we had to call someone to take her to the hospital. Heath was not about to let her go alone…I remember him looking at her, and she looking up at him with these wide eyes. She was almost startled by the attention he was giving her, but you could see it every day from thereon. For him, it was truly love at first sight. He was so taken with her.”
Ledger and Williams went on to have a daughter together, and spent three years together before breaking up. Tragically, Ledger later passed away in 2008.
5 Ben Affleck & Jennifer Lopez: A Publicist's Dream
The original Hollywood A-list couple, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez dominated the headlines in the early 2000s. The two hotties starred together in the film Gigli in 2001, which ended up flopping despite their chemistry. Their relationship went public before the film was released, so execs thought it would be a good idea to make the film a Bennifer vehicle and re-shot a number of scenes to make the film a romantic comedy rather than a crime drama. Maybe that’s why it flopped?
Their romance continued to blossom, and they made plans to tie the knot. Lopez even appeared briefly in Jersey Girl alongside her man, playing the mother of his child who dies in labour, leaving him to raise their baby girl alone. In 2003, the couple called off their engagement and broke up permanently, a mere four days before the wedding.
4 Freida Pinto & Dev Patel: BTS Magic
Slumdog Millionaire took home an impressive eight Academy Awards, and you have to wonder whether some of that success has to do with the unmissable magic between actors Dev Patel and Freida Pinto. In the movie, Patel plays a contestant on the Indian equivalent of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and the audience is shown flashbacks from his life. We meet a girl named Latika, played by Pinto, whom he fell in love with. The sparks between them were pretty hard to deny, with Pinto telling US Weekly, “I think we created all the magic that was needed for one film.”
The couple fell in love while they played lovers, and officially began dating off-screen. They were so serious about making the relationship work that they agreed to not act together in a movie again. “We’re leaving the rest of the magic for our personal lives,” Pinto confirmed. Their relationship lasted six years before they called it quits.
3 Jude Law & Sienna Miller: Scandal-ville
The relationship between Jude Law and Sienna Miller may have ended up in the mother of all scandals, but they started out as one of everyone’s favorite couples! These two met while filming the 2004 remake of Alfie. They made things official and got engaged, but a sea of gossip and scandals was heading their way.
In 2005, Law confessed that he’d had an affair with the nanny Daisy Wright. “I want to publicly apologize to Sienna and our respective families for the pain that I have caused,” he said in a public statement. “There is no defense for my actions which I sincerely regret and I ask that you respect our privacy at this very difficult time.” Around the same time, Miller was speculated to be having her own affair with actor Daniel Craig. In 2011, the couple famously called things off for good, and went their separate ways.
2 Sophia Bush & Chad Michael Murray: Short-Lived Marriage
After meeting on the set of One Tree Hill, yet another addictive teen drama, Sophia Bush and Chad Michael Murray fell in love so hard that they decided to get married after just one year of dating. Fans of the show were over the moon, until the marriage disintegrated only five months after the nuptials took place.
According to reports, Murray cheated on his new bride, which caused her to leave him immediately, despite the fact that they still had to work with each other on the show. It’s difficult enough to see an ex after you break up, and it’s even more difficult to have to work with them. What makes things even more brutal for you is having to see and work with your ex after they’ve cheated on you! Poor Sophia Bush has since revealed that working with him for those final few years was very tough.
1 Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman: A Good Decade
Before there was the epic Aussie couple that is Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, and the now-over power couple known as TomKat, there was Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. These two actors met on the set of Days of Thunder, and married on Christmas Eve 1990. Later, they adopted two children together, Isabella and Connor Antony. During the course of their ten-year marriage, Cruise and Kidman co-starred in a few other flicks, including Eyes Wide Shut and Far Away.
The good times all came crashing down in 2001 when Cruise filed for divorce, leaving the world in confusion for many years. Since then, rumors have circulated to suggest that the actor’s Scientology faith had something to do with the destruction of their marriage. Looking back, Kidman has said that the divorce was shocking to her: “Our life together was perfect. It took me a very long time to heal. It was a shock to my system.” Hopefully her marriage to Keith Urban has been able to help heal some of those wounds!