Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie broke hearts the world over when the Oscar-winning actress filed for divorce on Sept. 19, 2016. The powerful couple was together 12 years, though only married for two. They share six gorgeous children (Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh, and twins Knox and Vivienne), and let’s face it, these two were among the most beautiful pairings on the planet, right? So what happened?
Jolie wasn’t messing around with the split, initially hiring celebrity divorce lawyer Laura Wasser to rep her — the same lawyer who represented Johnny Depp in his ugly divorce from actress Amber Heard. That means it’s serious. Sources told TMZ that Jolie’s decision to end the marriage stemmed from disagreements with Pitt about parenting and his “interactions with the children,” but it turns out this once-golden couple may have had a laundry list of reasons why it just didn’t work. Let’s take a closer look at the shocking downfall of Brangelina.
They were built on a faulty foundation
You know the story by now: In 2003, Brad Pitt, who was then married to Friends star Jennifer Aniston, signed on to star in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Originally, Nicole Kidman was set to play opposite the blond hunk, but Pitt reportedly didn’t feel enough chemistry with her and dropped out of the film. Kidman moved on to Stepford Wives. According to News.com.au, Producer Arnon Milchan said “immediately after he cast [Jolie] as the female lead, Pitt called him back to say he was happy to play Mr. to her Mrs.” Filming started in January 2004, and rumors soon began to swirl that the pair was hooking up.
In May 2004, Pitt took then-wife Aniston to the Troy premiere, possibly to quiet the scandalous chatter. That August, paparazzi captured Pitt and Jolie looking cozy, which Mr. and Mrs. Smith insiders dismissed as being in character. In December 2004, Pitt vacationed with Aniston, and one month later, in January 2005, they announced their separation. That March, Aniston filed for divorce. In April 2005, Pitt and Jolie were photographed vacationing with Jolie’s son, Maddox, and the rest is history.
Any relationship that starts with either partner cheating (or even just having an emotional affair) is bound to have trust issues at some point, right?
They couldn’t keep their stories straight
The Jolie-Aniston-Pitt love triangle made tabloids explode. Despite all parties denying that there was cheating involved, Pitt and Jolie had a hard time keeping their stories straight. They both initially claimed nothing happened until after Pitt and Aniston divorced, but in a 2007 Vogue cover story (via People), Jolie made it clear that a deep relationship had developed during filming (when Pitt was still married).
“Because of the film, we ended up being brought together to do all these crazy things, and I think we found this strange friendship and partnership that kind of just suddenly happened,” she said. “I think a few months in I realized, ‘God, I can’t wait to get to work.’ … Anything we had to do with each other, we just found a lot of joy in it together and a lot of real teamwork. We just became kind of a pair.”
Media scrutiny makes any relationship harder, and for a long time, these two courted it — remember that infamous W magazine spread that starred Pitt and Jolie as a sexy married couple — the one that came out as Pitt and Aniston were falling apart? It looks like the press Brangelina loved so much in the beginning came back to bite them later.
They ‘tested’ their marriage by working together again
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie co-starred in 2015’s By the Sea, which may have been a case of art imitating life. The film focused on a broken relationship between an unhappy couple. When asked about it, Brangelina was quick to deny any problems, leading a lot of us to think now that the lady (and gentleman) doth protested too much.
“We’re actually very very stable and these aren’t our issues,” she told Tom Brokaw on Today in October 2015. Jolie later told the Daily Mail that making the film “was our way of testing ourselves. We knew that if we could get through this, we’d come out even stronger and happier. And we did. We’ve always liked putting ourselves through challenges, even though it was maybe a little more dangerous for us as a couple.” She also added, “I don’t think we want to go through it again though.”
Their lifestyles are worlds apart
Page Six reported that Jolie and Pitt have very different priorities. She is said to be looking for fulfillment outside of Tinseltown while he supposedly loves being Hollywood’s golden boy. “The older she gets, the more serious she becomes, and she is sick of the Hollywood thing,” a source claimed. “He wants to make movies. She doesn’t. It’s a fundamental difference. It’s how you live your life.”
Did Jolie’s quest to serve the greater good of the world damage her own family? “Ultimately, she almost got too comfortable [acting as a role model],” an insider told Page Six. “She wasn’t able to adapt to some of the realities of her marriage and her life. She just assumed that people would follow whatever she said, including her husband, and so when they had marital issues, she … believed she could just bully him into whatever she wanted.”
While Pitt has clearly supported and respected Jolie’s extensive humanitarian efforts in the past, he may have grown skeptical over time. “Brad used to admire Angie’s humanitarian work, but is now more suspicious of her true motivations,” a source told Radar Online in June 2018, as the exes’ custody battle continued. “Brad wasn’t surprised that Angie went to Iraq over the weekend when he was with the kids for Father’s Day.”
Sources also told Us Weekly that the couple argued over politics. During the 2016 election season, when their split was announced, those “heated political fights” may have intensified.
She didn’t have a lot of friends … and may have hated his
Jolie admitted to Marie Claire in 2012 (via the Daily Mail) that she relied predominantly on Pitt for any sort of adult interactions outside of work conversations. “I don’t have a lot of friends I talk to. He is really the only person I talk to,” she said.
Perhaps she wanted Pitt to join her in a rather isolated bubble. Radar Online claimed Jolie resented his friendships with other stars, notably actor Edward Norton. “Angelina has always thought Ed’s a shallow underachiever who brings out the immature side of Brad, and she’s not impressed by his wife,” a source alleged. An insider told Page Six that Jolie supposedly envies the attention showered on renowned human rights attorney Amal Clooney, who is the wife of Pitt’s bestie, actor George Clooney — because apparently there can only be one gorgeous brunette humanitarian at a time.
Meanwhile, the friends that Jolie does have include Lady Arminka Helic of the U.K. House of Lords and former Hague aide Chloe Dalton, who were suspected to have planted stories smearing Pitt in the press, reported Page Six.
He was dogged by cheating rumors
You know the old saying “If they’ll cheat with you, they’ll cheat on you?” Well, somewhere Aniston may be snickering and looking up quotes about karma because Page Six reported that Pitt allegedly hooked up with Allied co-star Marion Cotillard, and an insider claimed he was shacking up with “Russian hookers” as well. A source said, “He’s in the throes of some insane midlife crisis, and Angie’s fed up. She hired a private eye because she felt that he was fooling around with her on the set, and it turns out, he was. And that was the final straw.”
Cotillard vehemently denied having an affair with Pitt. She confronted the rumors on Instagram in September 2016: “Firstly, many years ago, I met the man of my life, father of our son and of the baby we are expecting. He is my love, my best friend, the only one that I need … Finally, I do very much wish that Angelina and Brad, both whom I deeply respect, will find peace in this very tumultuous moment.”
Nothing materialized from all that tabloid dirt, but the salacious headlines likely added more strain to an already tenuous time between Pitt and Jolie.
She has a history of unconventional relationships
When Angelina Jolie was married to actor Jonny Lee Miller, she reportedly cheated on him with model Jenny Shimizu, who she met on the set of 1996’s Foxfire. Jolie talked about her torrid affair with Shimizu to Girlfriends magazine in 1997. “I would probably have married Jenny Shimizu if I hadn’t married my husband,” she said (via Popdust). “I fell in love with her the first second I saw her.” Jolie reportedly had an on-again, off-again relationship with Shimizu, even when they were both dating other people.
Jolie reportedly hooked up with second husband Billy Bob Thornton while he was in a live-in relationship with actress Laura Dern in 1999. Dern told Talk magazine (via ABC News,) “I left our home to work on a movie, and while I was away, my boyfriend got married, and I’ve never heard from him again. It’s like a sudden death. For no one has there been any closure or clarity.”
Considering Jolie has also described doing drugs and cutting with former lovers, perhaps the relative stability and normalcy of a heterosexual marriage with Brad Pitt grew tiresome to her.
They disagreed on how to raise their six kids
Insiders claim the biggest issue Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt faced in their relationship was their conflicting views on parenting — and when you have a brood of six children, that’s going to be a big problem. “Their parenting approach was always very different,” a source told People. “Since their separation, it’s been obvious that they weren’t going to figure things out on their own when it comes to the kids.” A source told the magazine, ” Brad has always been stricter … Angelina always had a more relaxed attitude when it came to the kids.”
Pitt told GQ that his upbringing may have influenced his parenting style. “I grew up with a Father-knows-best/war mentality — the father is all-powerful, super strong — instead of really knowing the man and his own self-doubt and struggles,” he said. The actor said the divorce made him realize he’s “gotta be more for them. I have to show them. And I haven’t been great at it.” To each of their credit, Jolie told Good Morning America that “of course” Pitt is a good father and that they’d always be a family.
That infamous in-flight incident
While it’s unclear exactly how Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie differ on parenting, it’s clear that something happened on a private plane between Pitt and their son, Maddox, that prompted Jolie to file for divorce and instigated a Child Protective Services investigation into Pitt.
TMZ reported that Pitt allegedly argued with Jolie during a private flight, at which point Maddox stepped between his parents to defend his mother. Pitt was accused of lunging at Maddox. The tab also claims Pitt was inebriated at some point during the incident, and sources said Jolie was concerned for the safety of her children. Us Weekly reported that the fight was sparked when a frustrated Jolie urged Pitt to “sober up.” Whatever went down on that plane, Pitt was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing or abuse allegations in a Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services investigation.
He suffered from substance abuse issues
TMZ reported that Jolie was fed up with Pitt’s alleged marijuana and alcohol use and its potential effects on their kids. Amid reports that Pitt was in treatment for addiction and attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, he addressed his issues head-on, telling GQ in May 2017 that he had a problem. “I can’t remember a day since I got out of college when I wasn’t boozing or had a spliff, or something … I’m really, really happy to be done with all of that,” he said. “I stopped everything except boozing when I started my family. But even this last year … I was boozing too much. It’s just become a problem. And I’m really happy it’s been half a year now, which is bittersweet.”
Jolie famously battled heroin addiction when she was younger and also allegedly used cocaine. Being around someone who even recreationally abuses substances can be a potential trigger, in addition to a danger to their kids, so that could very well be why she pulled the plug on their marriage.
Angelina may be out for blood
Jolie and Pitt initially agreed to keep their divorce proceedings as private as possible to protect their kids, but the custody negotiations got ugly in 2018. Jolie has maintained primary physical custody of the kids since she and Pitt separated, with Pitt having supervised visitation. In June 2018, The Blast reported that a judge ordered Jolie to allow their children to speak and text with Pitt without her monitoring the conversations, warning her that alienating their six kids from Pitt wasn’t helping her case.
Jolie hired “disso queen” Laura Wasser to represent her in her divorce in 2016, but TMZ reported in August 2018 that Wasser quit working for Jolie because the actress allegedly had frequent screaming fits. “She’s fueled with anger and has gotten ridiculously unreasonable,” a source claimed.
Court documents obtained by NBC News revealed that Jolie slammed Pitt for allegedly not paying “any meaningful child support.” Pitt’s camp told Page Six that he’d given Jolie $9 million since their split, part of which was a loan, and accused Jolie and her attorneys of deliberately attempting to smear him publicly.