Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

33 times actors fell in love on set, from Burton and Taylor to Will and Jada Pinkett Smith

When sparks are flying on set, it can also play out vividly on screen

Roisin O'Connor,Charlotte Cripps
Tuesday 11 January 2022 11:52 GMT
Mr and Mrs Smith trailer

Actors are often thrust into romantic scenes with each other, but sometimes the acting is almost suspiciously good.

Given the intense filming schedules, it is hardly surprising that actors end up falling in love on film and TV sets. With no time to go on normal dates, sometimes, it seems, the only thing left to do is to pursue a cast member.

When sparks are flying on set, it can also play out vividly on screen. When Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor fell in love on the set of Cleopatra, the real-life chemistry was impossible to miss.

It was the same story for Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, who started dating on the Twilight set. It soon became clear that their passionate onscreen relationship matched their real-life one. Minus the blood-sucking, we assume.

That’s not to say that all these romances last. But some actors who have fallen in love on set have stayed together for years.

The long-term Hollywood couple Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, who met on Swing Shift in 1984, have been together for over 35 years, although they have refused to walk down the aisle. That they say is the secret to their success, as every day they can make the choice to be together. Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith are another of Hollywood's success stories: they have been married since 1997 after meeting at auditions for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Then there are the classic Hollywood romances: Burton and Taylor, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, and Vivien Leigh and Laurence Oliver.

Read on to learn about real-life couples who met on film sets:

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

'Raising awareness' is usually just an empty celebrity culture cliché, but Jolie's article for The New York Times could make a real difference to women's lives. (AP)

Who can forget the passionate fight scenes in Mr & Mrs Smith, as the onscreen spy couple who are contracted to kill one another? It was on this film set that Pitt and Jolie met and reportedly fell in love – though they both deny that there was any overlap between their relationship and Pitt’s marriage to Jennifer Aniston. The couple dubbed “Brangelina” shared six children together, got married in 2015 but separated in 2016.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith – The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1994)

Will Smith with Jada Pinkett-Smith and their daughter Willow (Getty Images)

The couple met auditioning for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in 1994, got married in 1997, and have been together ever since. They have two children together, Willow and Jaden.

Apple TV+ logo

Watch Apple TV+ free for 7 days

New subscribers only. £8.99/mo. after free trial. Plan auto-renews until cancelled

Try for free
Apple TV+ logo

Watch Apple TV+ free for 7 days

New subscribers only. £8.99/mo. after free trial. Plan auto-renews until cancelled

Try for free

Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn – Woman of the Year (1942)

Tracey famously remained married throughout his 25-year love affair with Hepburn, whom he met when filming Woman of the Year in 1942. “I'm a bit tall for you, Mr Tracy,” Hepburn observed. “Don't worry,” a producer standing by responded. “He'll cut you down to size.” They starred in nine movies together, struggling to upstage one another every time, but it was not until after Tracy's wife died in 1983 that Hepburn publicly acknowledged her relationship with her Hollywood co-star.

Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart – Twilight (2008)

The world went mad for Robert Pattinson. What can be more seductive than a good-looking vampire who then dates his co-star in real life? Pattinson and Stewart’s on-off relationship dominated the headlines after they met on the set of Twilight in 2008 while playing lovers Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. It all came to a head when paparazzi photos caught Stewart kissing her married Snow White director Rupert Saunders in 2012. Pattinson and Stewart briefly reconciled, but then split up for good in 2013.

Jennifer Lawrence and Darren Aronofsky – Mother! (2017)

Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence’s relationship with Darren Aronofsky took off when they met on set of his film Mother! in which Lawrence was cast in the lead role opposite Javier Bardem. But a year later, they broke up, with Lawrence citing the stresses of having a working relationship as the cause of the break-up. “We’d be on the tour together [and] I'd come back to the hotel and the last thing I want to talk about or think about is a movie. He comes back from the tour and that's all he wants to talk about.” “I get it,” she continued. “It's his baby. He wrote it. He conceived it. He directed it. So I was doing double duty of trying to be a supportive partner while also being like ‘Can I please for the love of God not think about Mother! for one second?’”

Freida Pinto and Dev Patel – Slumgdog Millionaire (2008)

‘Slumdog Millionaire’ won Boyle a Best Director Oscar (AP)

The couple who fell in love on the set of the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire in 2008 and embarked on a six-year relationship after rising to fame together. They both went as far as to describe one another as “soul mates”, while Slumdog co-star Anil Kapoor said the couple shared “magic chemistry”, but sadly, they didn’t last. Pinto admitted that she was having an early “mid-life crisis” and needed to learn how to love herself.

Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz – Dream House (2010)

Although Weisz and the Bond star had known each other for years, their romance reportedly started on the Canadian film set of the thriller Dream House, in which they play a married couple in a haunted house. Although the couple at first denied it, Weisz then split from her partner of nine years, Darren Aronofsky, while Craig split from his fiancée of seven years, Satsuki Mitchell, an American film producer. In 2011, they tied the knot, and they had their first child together in 2018, when Weisz was 48.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton – Cleopatra (1963)

Actress Elizabeth Taylor filming the 1963 film 'Cleopatra' directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (Getty Images/Hulton Archive)

The turbulent relationship between Taylor and Burton is one of the most infamous in Hollywood history. It all started on set of the epic Hollywood movie Cleopatra, when they played the lovers Cleopatra and Mark Antony. Taylor was married to Eddie Fisher and Burton to Sybil Williams but they tied the knot in 1964, divorced in 1974, then married again in 1975 and divorced in 1976. That’s a lot of wedding presents and lawyer bills.

Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder – Edward Scissorhands (1990)

The Hollywood stars famously dated between 1989 and 1993, after meeting on the set of Edward Scissorhands. Depp was so in love with his onscreen love interest while filming the Tim Burton film that he got the tattoo “Winona Forever”. When the two split up in 1993, he had the tattoo changed to “Wino Forever”. Apparently Hairspray director John Waters, was ordained as a minister just to officiate their wedding, but he talked them out of it, as Ryder, then aged 19, was so young.

Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz – Vicky Christina Barcelona (2008)

Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem at the "Skyfall" premiere (Getty Images)

This Hollywood couple got together on set of the Woody Allen film. Bardem played the artist Juan Antonio, who is attracted to both Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson), while still married to his unstable ex-wife, played by Cruz. They first met while shooting Jamon Jamon in 1992, but the path of true love was a long one. They were married in 2010 and have two children together, Leo and Luna.

Liam Hemworth and Miley Cyrus – The Last Song (2010)

Hemsworth and Cyrus first fell in love while shooting the coming-of-age teen romance, which was directed by Nicholas Sparks. Cyrus played the rebellious teenager Ronnie who falls in love with Hemsworth’s beach volleyball player Will. After a three-year, on-off relationship, they got engaged in 2012, but separated in 2013. Then, in 2016 they got back together again. Finally it all seemed rosy when they got married in 2018. However, this year they split up, apparently for good this time.

Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart – To Have and Have Not (1944)

When Bacall and Bogart met on the set of To Have and Have Not, she was 19 and he was 45, and with his third wife. But the on-set chemistry was instant. The sultry Bacall was making her film debut as Bogart’s love interest – a role that catapulted her to stardom. The pair began a romantic relationship a few weeks into filming it and never looked back She continued to star with Bogart in The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947) and Key Largo (1948). They married in 1945 and stayed together until his death of esophageal cancer in 1957.

Michelle Williams and Heath Ledger – Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Apparently it was love at first sight for Ledger, who met Williams on set of the Oscar-winning film Brokeback Mountain. The central gay romance in the film was between Ledger’s Ennis Del Mar and Jake Gyllenhaal’s Jack Twist. But Williams played Ledger’s character’s long-time fiancée Alma Beers. In real-life, the couple, who split-up in 2007, had a child together. Ledger died of an accidental overdose in 2008.

Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin – True Blood (2014)

Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer in ‘True Blood' (Rex Features)

It was also love at first sight for Moyer, who met Paquin during a screen test for the hit HBO vampire show. “By day three or four – oh, this is going to sound so syrupy – but I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her,” said Moyer. “It was within seconds, really, and it just became a thing.” They married in 2010 and had twins, Charlie and Poppy, in 2012.

Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams – The Notebook (2004)

As much a part of cinematic lore as Burton and Taylor, Gosling and McAdams initially got off to a rocky start when filming The Notebook – so much so that Gosling wanted to read an off-camera scene with a different actress. They managed to get through the film, and became one of Hollywood's favourite real-life couples for the next three years – until they split in 2007.

Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied – Black Swan (2010)

Portman fell in love with her French dancer husband on the set of the twisted Darren Aronofsky thriller Black Swan in 2009, which he choreographed and danced in. They got married two years later and have two children. Just after giving birth to her first child with him, she dedicated her Best Actress Oscar for the film to her “beautiful love, Benjamin, who has now given me my most important role in my life”.

Kit Harington and Rose Leslie – Game of Thrones (2012)

(Getty Images)

Harrington and Leslie went from on-screen couple to real-life husband and wife. The former Game of Thrones co-stars reportedly fell in love on the set of the show’s second season in 2012. Leslie played Ygritte, a wilding who falls in love with Harrington’s character Jon Snow. Harrington said: “I met my wife in this show, so in that way it gave me my future family and my life from here on in.” The couple were on-off until they got engaged in 2017 and married the following year in Scotland.

Helena Bonham Carter and Kenneth Branagh – Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994)

Branagh allegedly had an affair with Bonham Carter while acting alongside her in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which he directed. Their union famously ended his six-year marriage to Emma Thompson. After Branagh’s divorce from Thompson in 1995, the couple had a public romance until 1999.

Lauren Morelli and Samira Wiley – Orange is the New Black (2014)

Writer Samira Wiley and actor Lauren Morelli met on the set of Orange is the New Black in 2014, when they began dating. They were married in 2017.

Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell – Swing Shift (1984)

One of Hollywood’s longest-standing couples – they have been together now for over 35 years – fell in love on the set of Swing Shift in 1984. Although they met in 1966 on set of a Disney movie, it was during the filming of this World War II romance film that Russell said to her, “Man, you've got a great figure.” Not the most romantic of sentences, but it did the trick. The couple have vowed not to marry, but they have a son together, as well as Hawn’s two children from her marriage to Bill Hudson. Hawn said: “I like waking up every day and seeing that he is there and knowing that I have a choice. There is really no reason to marry.”

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard – Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1924)

While their first encounter was on the set of 1924's Ben Hur, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard weren't formally introduced until 1931. They married eight years later and tried to live a simple life, away from Hollywood, on a ranch in the San Fernando Valley. Tragically, Lombard was killed in a plane crash in 1942. Her faithful dachshund, Commissioner, didn't leave Gable's side after her death.

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck – Daredevil (2003)

(Getty Images)

Love is complicated. Garner and Affleck met while filming 2003’s Daredevil and shortly afterwards started dating publicly in 2004 after Affleck had split from Jennifer Lopez. They had three children together and then, after rumours of Affleck’s affair emerged, the couple split in 2015 and divorced in 2018. But apparently they still share a “special relationship”and enjoy co-parenting their kids.

Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev – The Vampire Diaries (2009)

Dobrev played Elena Gilbert, a young orphan who falls in love with vampire Damon Salvatore, played by Somerhalder, in the supernatural teen drama. Soon, rumours of a real-life romance between them surfaced, which excited fans greatly, and it was confirmed by the couple in 2011. Sadly, they split up in 2013. Bizarrely, considering the vampire theme, Somerhalder went on to marry Twilight actress Nikki Reed in 2015.

Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds – The Green Lantern (2011)

(Getty Images)

The now-married couple met while filming the superhero movie The Green Lantern in 2010. Reynolds was married at the time to Scarlett Johannson and Lively was dating her Gossip Girl co-star Penn Badgley. They claimed not to have started dating until 2011, when Reynold’s divorce to Johannson was finalised. They have three children.

Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan – Step Up (2006)

They were the golden couple after meeting on set of the dance movie Step Up in 2006, where sparks started flying as early as the audition. But after nearly nine years of marriage, they announced their split in 2018. Their joint statement said: “We fell deeply in love so many years ago and have had a magical journey together. Absolutely nothing has changed about how much we love one another, but love is a beautiful adventure that is taking us on different paths for now.”

Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel – The Apartment (1996)

The former Italian model turned actor who shot to fame in The Matrix Reloaded and The Passion of Christ met French actor Vincent Cassel on the set of Gilles Mimouni’s film, The Apartment. Cassell plays a recently engaged man who sees a former girlfriend (played by Belluci), and becomes obsessed with meeting her again. The former couple had a 14-year marriage and two daughters, before announcing their divorce in 2013.

Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier – Fire Over England (1937)

One of the most legendary Hollywood love stories began when Laurence Olivier saw Vivien Leigh in the 1935 play The Mask of Virtue. Olivier stopped to congratulate the rising star, and the pair – both married at the time – took an immediate liking to one another. They began an affair, keeping it secret from the public, and eventually married in 1940 after receiving divorces from their previous partners. However, Leigh's developing mental illness and Olivier's rising stardom caused tension between the couple, and they divorced in 1960.

Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy – Evening (2006)

(Getty Images)

Claire Danes, who is best known for playing Carrie Mathison in Homeland, fell in love with English actor Hugh Dancy while filming the ensemble drama Evening in 2006. They got married three years later in France. In a 2014 interview, Danes said of her husband: “He is a gentleman. Downton Abbey-esque? I guess. He was raised well, went to great schools, he’s a clever guy and he makes me giggle… I scored. I lucked out, big-time!”

Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow – Seven (1994)

These two actors began dating in 1994 after meeting each other on the set of David Fincher’s Seven. Pitt played a detective who had recently moved to New York City with his wife Tracy (played by Paltrow) to track down a serial killer. Two years later, Pitt proposed to Paltrow, but their engagement was called off in 1997.

Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes – The Place Beyond the Pines (2011)

The famously private couple got together during filming for The Place Beyond the Pines in 2011, and have since had two children together.

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman – Days of Thunder (1990)

The couple fell in love during the casting of Days of Thunder. Kidman said: “He basically swept me off my feet. I fell madly, passionately in love.” They got married in 1990, adopted two children and then divorced in 2001. The reasons for the split are not clear but his commitment to Scientology may have been a factor, and Kidman has admitted that she felt as though she was living in his shadow.

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield – The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Garfield and Stone in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Columbia/Kobal/Shutterstock)

Emma Stone Andrew Garfield began dating on the set of The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012 and dated for four years. They remain good friends.

Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender – The Light Between Oceans (2016)

Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander are staunchly private about their relationship. What we do know is that they met on the set of Derek Cianfrance's romantic drama, and Fassbender described their chemistry as “immediate” – “I said early on, 'This girl frightens me.' She's so fierce and brave... it kind of bowled me over.” They married in a private ceremony in Spain in 2017, and now reside in Lisbon, Portugal.

This article was originally published in October 2019

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in