After 12 years together, six children and two years of marriage, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were meant to be one of Hollywood’s most solid couples.
Less than two years ago, indeed, Jolie told the BBC they would “be together till the end of our days”.
Now the news of their impending divorce has shocked the world, or at least the part of it that cares about such things.
Hollywood romances often appear to outsiders to be fairy tales. But it can also seem like they rarely have the happy endings of the films these stars appear in.
Before Brad and Angelina, Brad and Jennifer Aniston were destined to be together forever, while Angelina had wed and waved goodbye to two actor husbands – Jonny Lee Miller and Billy Bob Thornton – before Brad.
Theories about why A-list marriages falter include the fact both sides may work apart for long periods; are open to more temptation than mere mortals; do not rely on each other for financial support; may clash egos; and could be disappointed if their partner does not live up to their public image.
But perhaps the flow of headlines about unhappy endings actually gives us the wrong impression about Hollywood relationships, because there is a long list of high-profile couples who have proved stars can have staying power.
Here are 10 of them.
Samuel L Jackson and LaTanya Richardson
After meeting at university in 1974, the couple married in 1980.
He went on to star in Pulp Fiction and Shaft, while she earned a Tony nomination for A Raisin in the Sun in 2014 and was in HBO’s Show Me a Hero last year.
In 2012, Richardson told New York Times Magazine she had found it difficult when her husband was away on location.
“I felt abandoned.” she said. “It was easier in the earlier years when we sometimes acted together onstage.”
She claimed the secret to their longevity was “amnesia” – but that their bond has greatly improved over time.
Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell
Private Benjamin actress Hawn had two failed marriages before meeting the Tango & Cash star in 1983. He divorced his first wife that year.
Hawn and Russell had a child together but have never tied the knot. “Marriage is a prelude to divorce,” he once said.
“We’ve created a union, a family, and our lives are very secure,” Hawn explained. “There’s a sense of passion that we have and a piece of paper will never change that.
“We celebrate our relationship all the time.”
Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest
“I knew my husband was the one for me as soon as I saw a picture of him on a magazine,” Curtis said. “I gave my number to his people and, luckily, he called.”
After her pursuit of the comic actor, who was about to star in This Is Spinal Tap, the couple wed in 1984.
Curtis, who is known for films like A Fish Called Wanda and Freaky Friday, has attributed the longevity of their marriage to “growth, hopefully. Parallel, mutual, intersecting growth”.
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson
“Rita has taught me what love is,” Hanks once said of his second wife. “People say it’s really hard work to stay married. No, no it’s not! Not if you really like the person!”
The couple met on the set of his sitcom Bosom Buddies and married in 1988.
He has won two Oscars, while she has starred in numerous TV shows and films, played Roxie Hart in Chicago on Broadway and produced movies including My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick
Kyra and Kevin met in 1987 on the set of a TV movie and married the following year.
“I have a marriage that is solid,” she said in 2003. “I don’t know why it has worked – I guess we simply love each other.
“The kids and I join Kevin on the set if he’s filming away so we don’t spend huge amounts of time apart.”
Sedgwick has said that getting married and having children young meant she missed out on roles.
But she returned to the spotlight in the past decade thanks to TV police drama The Closer, while he has been seen in Apollo 13 and X-Men: First Class.
John Travolta and Kelly Preston
Preston reportedly watched Travolta in Grease and Saturday Night Fever and told her dance instructor: “I’m going to marry the man in the movie.”
After moving to California, the actress worked with Travolta on 1989 film The Experts. The pair fell in love and wed in 1991.
The marriage has endured the tragic death of their son, Jett, in 2009.
In a 2001 interview, Travolta credited the role of counselling in the marriage. “In Scientology, we have what they call a Chaplain’s Court,” he said.
“Basically [it’s] where you sit with a third party and negotiate, and just work everything out until it’s settled.”
Annette Bening and Warren Beatty
Heaven Can Wait star Beatty was one of Hollywood’s legendary lotharios, so when he married Annette Bening in 1992 few expected it to last. But it has.
Beatty and Bening have four children. Although Bening has spoken about how many of her contemporaries had put off having children because they feared it would hamper their careers, she has accrued three Oscar nominations during that time.
“People sometimes ask what the secret to our marriage is, but I don’t claim to be an expert at all,” she has said. “All I do know is that I think it’s important to spend time alone together.
“We have so many children that it’s a very busy house and we often schedule time just for the two of us.”
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith
Jada Pinkett auditioned for the role of Will Smith’s girlfriend in his TV comedy The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in 1994. She did not get the part, but she did get the man.
The couple married in 1997. Earlier this year, he said they had stayed together with the help of “a lot of marriage counselling”.
“When the truth comes out and people have to say who they are and what they think, you get to know who they are,” he said.
“I think that’s the cleansing before you get to the other side that is understanding and moving forward in our relationship.”
Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick
The Sex and the City actress has been married to the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off star for 19 years. The couple have three children.
Parker has admitted their marriage has been through “some rather treacherous train rides”.
But in 2014 Broderick said: “We really are friends beyond everything else and we talk a lot.”
Asked his advice for other couples, he said: “Just keep talking I guess. I know how cliched that is. Too much silence is definitely not a good idea.”
Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones
Zeta Jones, who married Douglas in 2000, said earlier this year that she thinks “people today are so quick to throw in the towel” on relationships.
The couple separated briefly following his cancer diagnosis in 2010 and her treatment for bipolar disorder before reuniting again.
She said: “You have to give it your best shot and not give up when the first problem arises.”
He said: “It took work on both our parts. I don’t think there is much chance of fixing a relationship if one of you is already out of the door.”