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Hollywood's most heartbreaking divorces


"You never know what happens. Life changes" - Heidi Klum

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" - Jennifer Aniston

"I was a child, really, when I got married. And I needed to grow up" - Nicole Kidman

"Dennis was not faithful to me for a very long time, and that was very painful" - Meg Ryan

It's always sad when a relationship breaks down, but some celebrity divorces have surprised us more than others. Reese Witherspoon's marriage to Ryan Phillippe appeared rock solid up until they announced their separation in 2006 and Jennifer Lopez's marriage to Marc Anthony seemed destined for the long run.

The world heaved a collective sigh of dismay when Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt called it quits four years after tying the knot in a fairy tale Malibu wedding and Heidi Klum's split from Seal came as a shock after so many years spent smooching in public at their many Halloween parties.

With news today that Gwyneth Paltrow is separating from her husband of ten years Chris Martin, we take a look back at other high-profile couples who didn't make the distance - and why their marriages fell apart. From the "third person" in Charles and Diana's marriage to Elizabeth Taylor's explosive rows with Richard Burton and time spent apart for Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, here are history's most memorable and heartbreaking divorces:

Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt (2000 - 2005)

Reason for divorce: "It is not the result of any tabloid speculation"

Hollywood's golden couple parted ways four and a half years after marrying in a fairytale wedding attended by 200 guests in Malibu. They split at the end of 2004, amid rumours of an affair between Brad Pitt and his Mr. and Mrs. Smith co-star Angelina Jolie. Aniston filed for divorce in March 2005, citing irreconcilable differences.

The statement: "We would like to announce that after seven years together we have decided to formally separate. For those who follow these sorts of things, we would like to explain that our separation is not the result of any of the speculation reported by the tabloid media. This decision is the result of much thoughtful consideration. We happily remain committed and caring friends with great love and admiration for one another. We ask in advance for your kindness and sensitivity in the coming months."

In hindsight: "I can't say it was one of the highlights of my year," Aniston told Vanity Fair in 2005. "Who would deal with that and say, 'Isn't that sweet! That looks like fun!' But s*** happens. You joke and say, 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.'"

Seal and Heidi Klum (2005 - 2012)

Reason for divorce: "We have grown apart"

These two were famed for their flamboyant Halloween parties and frequent, passionate public displays of affection (they even starred in a music video together) - but it wasn't to last. They announced their separation in 2012 after seven years of marriage and have four children together, including Klum's daughter from a previous relationship.

The statement: "While we have enjoyed seven very loving, loyal and happy years of marriage, after much soul searching we have decided to separate. We have had the deepest respect for one another throughout our relationship and continue to love each other very much, but we have grown apart. This is an amicable process and protecting the well-being of our children remains our top priority, especially during this time of transition."

In hindsight: "I’m someone who believes in a fairy tale and when I said 'I do,' I meant forever," Heidi told ABC News in 2012. "But I don’t know, you never know what happens. Life changes."

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (1964 - 1974 and 1975 -1976)

Reason for divorce: "Maybe we loved each other too much"

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton's relationship was fiery and dramatic from the offset, with The Vatican blasting their affair on-set Cleopatra in 1964 as "erotic vagrancy". They were impulsively drawn to one another ("Richard and I had an incredible chemistry together. We couldn't get enough of each other," Taylor once said), and their union endured two marriages and a lifelong friendship underpinned by a luxurious lifestyle and incessant press attention.

The couple's marriage fell apart after Burton was unfaithful with one of his co-stars. Their second marriage ended in 1976 after just five months, with Burton marrying Suzy Hunt three weeks later. During their time together, they were passionate and tempestuous; friends noted the way they appeared to relish hurling insults at one another.

In hindsight: "You can't keep clapping a couple of sticks of dynamite together without expecting them to blow up," Burton noted, with Taylor saying, "Maybe we loved each other too much."

Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe (1999 - 2006)

Reason for divorce: "I was ridiculously young"

This lovely couple met at Reese Witherspoon's 21st birthday party and Ryan Phillippe proposed two years later after they'd starred in 1999's Cruel Intentions together. The couple openly talked about having to work on their relationship and eventually split after seven years of marriage. They have two children, Ava and Deacon, together.

The statement: "We are saddened to announce that Reese and Ryan have decided to formally separate. They remain committed to their family and we ask that you please respect their privacy and the safety of their children at this time."

In hindsight: : "I was so, so young. I was, like, ridiculously young," Witherspoon told Elle in 2011. "I learnt a lot, though. It was an excellent opportunity for me to really find out what it means to be a partner and to be in a marriage and it’s not anything that I thought it was."

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman (1990 - 2001)

Reason for divorce: "I needed to grow up"

Nicole Kidman married Tom Cruise aged just 23 in 1990 and the pair adopted two children, Connor and Isabella, together. They were THE Hollywood couple in the 1990s, worth a joint sum of more than £125million. Kidman later referred to their relationship as existing in "a bubble" but said it was "deeply romantic."

The statement: "Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman announced today that they have regretfully decided to separate. The couple, who married in 1990, stressed their great respect for each other, both personally and professionally. Citing the difficulties inherent in divergent careers which constantly keep them apart, they concluded that amicable separation seemed the best for both of them at this time."

In hindsight: "You know, with no disrespect to what I had with Tom, I’ve met my great love now,” Kidman told the Vanity Fair about her husband, Keith Urban, whom she married in 2006. "And I really did not know if that was going to happen. I wanted it, but I didn’t want it for a while, because I didn’t want to jump from one relationship to another. I had a lot of time alone, which was really, really good, because I was a child, really, when I got married. And I needed to grow up."

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore (2005 - 2011)

Reason for divorce: "There are certain values I hold sacred"

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore (@MrsKutcher) were the most loved-up couple in showbiz at one point and were constantly pictured looking smitten in one another's presence. They divorced in 2011, following allegations that Kutcher had cheated on his wife in San Diego on his sixth wedding anniversary. He later branded marriage "the most difficult thing in the world."

The statement: "It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I have decided to end my six-year marriage to Ashton,” Moore said to the Associated Press. "As a woman, a mother and a wife, there are certain values and vows that I hold sacred, and it is in this spirit that I have chosen to move forward with my life."

In hindsight: "I’ve learned that there are a lot of things in your life that really benefit from being private. And relationships are one of them," Kutcher told Elle magazine last year.

Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales (1981 - 1992)

Reason for divorce: "There were three of us in this marriage"

Not exactly showbiz perhaps, but Charles and Diana's divorce was high-profile enough to warrant it Hollywood status. Millions tuned into to watch the pair get married in true royal style in 1981. They had two sons together - William and Harry - but their marriage came under strain due to Charles' relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles. Their official separation was announced in a televised statement to parliament by then prime minister John Major in 1992 and they divorced in 1996.

The statement: "Buckingham Palace has made it known that the Prince and Princess of Wales will separate. Their Royal Highnesses are not seeking a divorce. Their position in the constitution remains the same. This decision has been agreed by both parties, the care of the children will continue to be shared by both."

In hindsight: "I desperately wanted it to work, I desperately loved my husband and I wanted to share everything together, and I thought that we were a very good team," Diana said in her now infamous Panorama interview in 1995. "There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded."

Guy Ritchie and Madonna (2000 - 2008)

Reason for divorce: "This isn’t what I thought it was going to be"

Madonna and British film director Guy Ritchie got hitched in December 2000 at Skibo Castle in the Scottish Highlands. The couple seemed an unlikely match from the outside, but went onto seal their relationship with two sons - Rocco and David Banda, whom they adopted from Malawi. They called it a day in 2008, with Ritchie later describing the marriage as "a soap opera" - albeit one he did not regret.

The statement: "Madonna and Guy Ritchie have agreed to divorce after seven and a half years of marriage. They have both requested that the media maintain respect for their family at this difficult time. A final settlement has not been agreed upon yet."

In hindsight: "When you start off, everything’s great and lovely, and the person you’ve married is flawless, and you’re flawless," Madonna told Newsweek magazine in 2012. "Then time goes by, and you share a life, you have children, and there are cracks in the veneer. It’s not as romantic as it used to be. You think, ‘This isn’t what I thought it was going to be,’ and ‘How much am I willing to sacrifice?’"

Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony (2004 - 2011)

Reason for divorce: "It didn’t work out"

Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony were truly a team, collaborating on everything from music tracks to films and fashion lines. Their twins, Max and Emme, were three years old when the duo announced their separation. It came as a shock, as the couple were pictured in a passionate clinch together at the unveiling of a billboard in Times Square in New York just a month before.

The statement: "We have decided to end our marriage. This was a very difficult decision. We have come to an amicable conclusion on all matters. It is a painful time for all involved and we appreciate the respect of our privacy at this time."

In hindsight: "They are all different eras in your life and I honestly get a lot of joy from looking back – and a lot of laughter, even when it didn’t work out so great," Lopez told Stylist in an interview last year. "With distance and time you realise what you learned from it and how absurd certain things were. It was like life and death for me at the time but I look back now and giggle."

Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid (1991 - 2001)

Reason for divorce: "He was not faithful to me for a very long time"

Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid tied the knot on Valentine's Day 1991 and went onto have a child, Jack, together. Their relationship was always volatile - Ryan only agreed to marry him after he tackled his cocaine addition and later claimed he had multiple affairs. Their marriage ended in 2001, after Ryan had a brief fling with her Proof Of Life co-star Russell Crowe.

The statement: A release in June 2000 said the two had been separated for six weeks and called the decision "mutual and amicable."

In hindsight: : "Dennis was not faithful to me for a very long time, and that was very painful," Ryan said in an interview in 2008. "I found out more about that after I was divorced. I was in that marriage for a really long time. Some days you think, This is so crazy, and you are all intellectual about it. And other days, it's just really, really painful."

David Arquette and Courteney Cox (1999 - 2010)

Reason for divorce: "We need to better understand ourselves"

The Scream co-stars appeared to have a rock solid relationship and their 11-year marriage was long-lasting in Hollywood terms. Their daughter, Coco Riley Arquette, was six years old when the couple split in 2010. They divorced two years later.

The statement: "We have agreed to a trial separation that dates back for some time. The reason for this separation is to better understand ourselves and the qualities we need in a partner and for our marriage. We remain best friends and responsible parents to our daughter and we still love each other deeply."

In hindsight: "When you love someone, you want them to be happy, even if it's not with you," Cox said in an interview with US More magazine this year. "We were married for a long time, so it’s not like we didn't try."

Paul McCartney and Heather Mills (2002 - 2006)

Reason for divorce: "It's increasingly difficult to maintain a normal relationship"

These two's divorce was famously acrimonious, as they battled it out in court for the £24.3million settlement eventually awarded to Mills (who branded her ex-husband's divorce lawyer "a b****). But it was a very different story to when they wed in a luxurious ceremony at Castle Leslie in Ireland, with both professing they were besotted with one another. They went onto have a daughter, Beatrice Milly McCartney, in 2003.

The statement: "Having tried exceptionally hard to make our relationship work given the daily pressures surrounding us, it is with sadness that we have decided to go our separate ways. Our parting is amicable and both of us still care about each other very much but have found it increasingly difficult to maintain a normal relationship with constant intrusion into our private lives, and we have actively tried to protect the privacy of our child."

In hindsight: "These things happen, y'know? But I tend to look at the positive side, which is that I have another beautiful daughter out of it," McCartney told Q magazine in 2009.

Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise (2006 - 2012)

Reason for divorce: Partly as Katie was worried about the influence of Scientology on their daughter

Many commentators were sceptical of this relationship from the out, but Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise saw it through a fairytale castle wedding in Italy and the birth of their daughter Suri before calling it quits in 2012. Holmes was the one to file for divorce (citing "irreconcilable differences") and unusually she confirmed the split separately from her husband.

The statement: "This is a personal and private matter for Katie and her family. Katie's primary concern remains, as it always has been, her daughter's best interest," said Holmes' attorney Jonathan Wolfe.

"Kate has filed for divorce and Tom is deeply saddened and is concentrating on his three children. Please allow them their privacy," said Cruise's rep.

They later released a joint statement saying they were "committed to working together as parents to accomplishing what is in our daughter Suri's best interests."

In hindsight: In a legal battle that erupted when Cruise sued a magazine over a story about his divorce, the actor admitted that part of the reason Holmes left him was because she was worried about the influence of Scientology on their daughter. When lawyers asked if his ex-wife ever indicated that she left because of the religion or because she wanted to protect their daughter from Scientology, Cruise responded: "Did she say that? That was one of the assertions, yes."

Eva Longoria and Tony Parker (2007 - 2010)

Reason for divorce: sexually explicit texts sent to another woman

Eva Longoria met basketball player Tony Parker in 2004 and the pair tied the knot three years later, with the actress changing her name to Eva Longoria-Parker and getting his name tattooed three times across her body (she later had them removed). They called time on their relationship three years later after it was revealed Parker had been sending sexually explicit texts to a mutual friend of theirs. They confirmed the split on Twitter.

The statement: "It is with great sadness that after 7 years together, Tony and I have decided to divorce. We love each other deeply and pray for each other’s happiness."

In hindsight: "So many people want me to hate him and destroy him, but I don't want to. I want him to be happy. He's not a bad person," Eva told Piers Morgan in 2011. "I do believe in forgiving and forgetting. There was a reason we were together. I just want to hold on to the good times."

"Society usually thinks there's something wrong with the woman," she later added. "'Oh, he cheated on her, so she must not have been sexually satisfying him. She must have been a ball and chain!' ... Why did he have to have a reason to cheat that had do with me?"

Demi Moore and Bruce Willis (1987 - 1998)

Reason for divorce: not enough time together

Demi Moore and Bruce Willis were one of Hollywood's most prominent power couples in the late 80s and early 90s, starring in a string of movies and having three children - Rumer, Scout and Tallulah - together (Moore famously posed naked while seven months pregnant with Scout on the front cover of Vanity Fair in 1991). Both blamed their split on spending too little time together and they've remained close friends, with Willis even going on holiday with Moore and her then-husband Ashton Kutcher, along with their kids.

Statement: "Bruce Willis and Demi Moore have announced they are ending their marriage after 11 years. They were married on November 21 1987."

In hindsight: "It's hard for people to understand, but we go on holidays together," Willis told Vanity Fair in 2005. "We still raise our kids together – we still have that bond. Demi is the mother of my children."

Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey (2002 - 2006)

Reason for divorce: changing priorities and time apart

When you star in a reality TV show about newlywed life together, some would argue that you're setting yourself up for a fall. But Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey's union lasted three years after they wed in a lavish ceremony in Austin, Texas and chronicled their lives on MTV's reality series Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica. The pair spent several months apart before announcing their split, with Simpson filming and Lachey working on his solo music career.

The statement: "After three years of marriage, and careful thought and consideration, we have decided to part way. This is the mutual decision of two people with an enormous amount of respect and admiration for each other. We hope that you respect our privacy during this difficult time."

In hindsight: "I certainly wish her the best and I would like to think the same on her end, but we don't speak," Lachey told E! News last year. "We haven't spoken in years."

Words: Anna Brech, Photos: Rex Features and Getty Images



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