9 Director/Actor Couples Who Worked Together And Then Broke Up

Sam Mendes and Kate Winslet 2009 Oscars

We’ve talked before about all the actor couples who worked together before breaking up, only to have that movie or TV show living on forever as a memory of their relationship. But it’s not just actors who have to deal with that. Plenty of filmmakers have also directed their significant others as actors in their movies before breaking up. In those cases it can be even worse, because while many actor/actor relationships begin when they’re making the project, directors tend to cast their significant other when they’re already together. And let’s face it, that’s kind of the Hollywood equivalent of getting a tattoo of someone’s name.

While some director/actor couples like Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann or Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter continue to make movies together and haven’t broken up, there are plenty of cautionary tales out there of couples who have called it quits. Of course, they could always stay positive about it and treasure their projects as a memory of the good that came out of their relationships. Whatever.

1. Sam Mendes and Kate Winslet

Sam and Kate got married in 2003 and had a son together. Sam directed Kate in the 2008 movie Revolutionary Road, opposite her BFF Leonardo DiCaprio. I know show business people say filming sex scenes is like no big deal, but I don’t see how that wouldn’t be completely and totally awkward.

2. Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson

Kenneth and Emma married in 1989 and proceeded to appear in multiple films together, which Kenneth directed, including Much Ado About Nothing. They were the dream British film couple, until they separated in 1995. They cited work demands as the reason, but Kenneth allegedly had an affair with Helena Bonham Carter, whom he also directed in Frankenstein.

3. Luc Besson and Milla Jovovich

Luc Besson, director of the recent “WTF did I just watch?” movie Lucy, directed Milla Jovovich in the 1997 sci-fi movie The Fifth Element. They married the same year, when she was 22 and he was 38, but they divorced in 1999. Milla seems to have a thing for marrying her directors, since she’s currently married to Paul W.S. Anderson, who directed her in Resident Evil.

4. Woody Allen and Mia Farrow

Woody Allen has had relationships with a few of his actresses, including Diane Keaton and his second wife Louise Lasser, who actually appeared in three of his films after they divorced. But probably his most famous relationship, if only for all the scandals that came out of it in the years following, was with Mia Farrow. Mia appeared in many of Woody’s films in the ’80s. They never married, and they split up in 1992 when Mia discovered Woody’s relationship with her adopted daughter Soon-Yi, to whom he is now married.

5. Guy Ritchie and Madonna

Guy and Madonna got married in 2000. In 2002, Madonna starred in Guy’s movie Swept Away, a remake of the 1974 film. It was a total bomb, making less than $600,000 in the United States. It has a 5% on Rotten Tomatoes. Yikes. Madonna and Guy didn’t divorce until 2008, so at least it wasn’t the crappy movie that tore them apart.

6. Sean Penn and Robin Wright

Speaking of Madonna, Sean Penn was married to her in the ’80s. And then there were also those domestic assault charges. But that didn’t stop Robin Wright from marrying him in 1996 after having two kids together. In 1995 she starred in his movie The Crossing Guard. But Jack Nicholson starred in two of his movies, so maybe he should marry him. Sean and Robin’s divorce became final in 2010.

7. James Cameron and Linda Hamilton

Ugh, James Cameron. Sorry, I’m just required to say “ugh” whenever I mention him. Anyway, he married Linda Hamilton in 1997, but they’d been together since 1991 and made the Terminator films together. Later, James married his current wife Suzy Amis, who played Rose’s granddaughter in Titanic. Linda claimed that one reason for their 1999 divorce was that James had an affair with Suzy. This is James’ fifth marriage, by the way.

8. Tim Burton and Lisa Marie

Tim’s current personal and working relationship with Helena Bonham Carter is still going, but before that he directed his partner Lisa Marie in multiple projects, including as Vampira in Ed Wood (which is an amazing movie by the way, and everyone needs to see it ASAP). They dated from 1993 to 2001.

9. Darren Aronofsky and Rachel Weisz

Darren Aronofsky originally wanted Cate Blanchett for the female lead in the 2004 movie The Fountain, but a budget cut led him to rework the script and cast his girlfriend Rachel Weisz instead. They never married but were together for nine years, until 2010. Then the next year Rachel was like, “Surprise! I’m married to James Bond!”

(Photo: Roger Eldemire / WENN.com)

You can reach this post's author, Jill O’Rourke, on twitter.
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    • Alana Vincenza

      I had no idea that Rachel Weisz and Darren Aronofsky dated. She’s so perf with Daniel Craig now.

    • Alexandra Mitchell

      I also “ugh” every time James Cameron comes into conversation.

    • Sasha

      Madonna is not an actress, never was, never will be. She has zero talent for that.

    • tumblush

      They might not have divorced until 6 years after Swept Away, but anyone who has had the misfortune to see that film, knows that Ritchie already despised his wife. Everything about that film seemed designed to degrade and humiliate Madonna. How on Earth she could have sat through a screening without walking out is beyond me.