Poor Jennifer Aniston. Everyone assumed that after she married Justin Theroux, her days of romantic unhappiness were behind her. But it wasn’t to be. In February 2018 she and Theroux announced that they were separating. Everyone was full of sympathy for the 49-year-old actress, but then the rumors started. Because the internet had realized that Brad Pitt, the man who had very publicly broken Aniston’s heart back in 2005, was also back on the market.
To begin with, Aniston’s parents were both actors, but it wasn’t that which made her famous. Instead, it was the hugely popular sitcom Friends that propelled her into stardom. Aniston’s portrayal of Rachel Green won her awards, acclaim and a million-dollar paycheck. And by 1998 she was dating the most eligible bachelor in Hollywood: Brad Pitt.
For the next few years, Aniston and Pitt were the couple. Aniston was beautiful, rich and accomplished, while Pitt was one of the most powerful (and good-looking) men in Hollywood. When they married in 2000, the media went into a frenzy. If you weren’t on the wedding guest list you weren’t getting in, and when you did get in you had to sign a confidentiality agreement.
The wedding cost a reported $1 million, with $75,000 of that going on flowers alone. The guest-list was full of A-listers: Ed Norton, Cameron Diaz, and almost all of Aniston’s Friends co-stars attended. Aniston’s wedding dress was designed by Lawrence Steele, and her shoes by Manolo Blahnik. Despite the wedding being kept very private, it was absolutely a fairytale occasion.
After the wedding, Aniston and Pitt continued their rise. They both had strings of movie hits – Aniston had The Good Girl, Bruce Almighty and Along Came Polly; Pitt had Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve and Troy. Everything was going great for them… until Pitt was cast alongside Angelina Jolie in the spy film Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Even though no one knows for certain what transpired behind closed doors, the basic fact of the matter is: Aniston and Pitt announced in January 2005 that they were separating. Given this, rumors spread that it was because Pitt was involved with his glamorous co-star. However, Jolie and Pitt both frantically denied it, naturally. Notwithstanding their denials, in 2008 Jolie told the New York Times that she and Pitt “fell in love” on the Mr. and Mrs. Smith set.
Unsurprisingly, the media reveled in the love triangle. “Team Aniston” and “Team Jolie” were popular T-shirt slogans all throughout 2005. But it seemed that Aniston had won the sympathy battle. In the eyes of the media, Aniston’s husband had committed that most heinous of betrayals: left her for another woman in a very public way. As Pitt began settling into life with Jolie, Aniston was cast in the role of betrayed underdog.
And yet, whenever Aniston spoke in interviews about what had happened, she did so with grace. In September 2005 she told Oprah that she was “doing well” and “living in the moment.” She never expressed, at least not in public, any ill will towards either Pitt or Jolie. Indeed, she did seem to move on. Over the next few years she dated a string of famous men – Vince Vaughn, John Mayer and Justin Theroux. And it turned out that Theroux became her second husband.
The pair married in August 2012. With this new marriage, it seemed like the Pitt-Jolie-Aniston love triangle was finally over. Indeed, Pitt and Jolie themselves, after years of being partners, tied the knot in August 2014. It appeared that everybody involved in the headline-grabbing romantic scandal had finally, years later, found happiness. But it wasn’t to be.
First, in September 2016, news hit that Pitt and Jolie were getting divorced. “Irreconcilable differences” was the reason given, but the media speculated that it went deeper than that. As complicated as the situation seemed to be, Aniston fans delighted in it. Mocked-up memes of Aniston laughing about the divorce news went viral all over Twitter.
But before too long there came a final twist in the saga. On February 15, 2018, Aniston and her husband made an announcement to Associated Press: they were separating. “In an effort to reduce any further speculation, we have decided to announce our separation. This decision was mutual and lovingly made at the end of last year,” read the statement.
“We are two best friends who have decided to part ways as a couple, but look forward to continuing our cherished friendship, “ the statement continued. And then, rather damningly, it went on: “Normally we would do this privately, but given that the gossip industry cannot resist an opportunity to speculate and invent, we wanted to convey the truth directly.”
Yet the gossip simply couldn’t stop. This split certainly seemed to be on more amicable terms than the Pitt-Jolie split, some said, and that was clearly a good thing. But the whole incident also posed an intriguing concept. Aniston and Pitt were now both separated from their long-term partners, so was there the slightest chance they could fall back into each other’s arms?
Twitter certainly seemed to think so. “Somewhere, Jennifer Aniston is crafting her ‘Hey, let’s grab coffee and catch up’ text to Brad Pitt,” joked entertainment writer Madeline Hill. “What kind of Noel Coward play are Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt acting out?” asked Ira Madison III of the Daily Beast. And of course, there was an absolute avalanche of memes and gifs.
Yet for all the jokes, it actually seemed to be something worth taking seriously. Aniston and Pitt weren’t exactly friends perhaps, but they certainly weren’t enemies. “We’re not in daily communication, but we wish nothing but wonderful things for each other,” was how Aniston summed up the relationship to the Hollywood Reporter in 2015. “Nobody did anything wrong, you know what I mean?”
Given these comments, the rumor mill went into overdrive. Bookmakers cut their odds to 2-1 on Pitt and Aniston hooking up again, and there seemed to be a different news story every hour about the pair. “Back with Brad? Jennifer could reconcile with her ex-husband after divorce,” claimed a headline on Radar Online. Nevertheless, not everybody was desperate for something of the sort to happen. “Are you people kidding me? Jennifer Aniston should not get back together with Brad Pitt!” a writer for Cosmopolitan declared.
Some Twitter users did actually point out that if a Pitt-Aniston relationship hadn’t worked out before, it probably wasn’t ever going to. “Why would Jennifer Aniston get back with her cheating ex-husband?” was a question boohoo.com tweeted out. Another Twitterer asked why Aniston couldn’t just remain single. “Women can live their lives without being with a man, you know.”
On February 16 People published the words of an anonymous source, one said to be close to Aniston, about the matter. “[Aniston and Pitt] haven’t seen each other in ages,” they said. “For well over a decade now they have lived totally separate lives… they have become totally different people than who they once were when they were together.”
Likewise, an anonymous source close to Brad Pitt said much the same thing to Us Weekly that day. “Brad is of course sad to hear the news about Jen’s divorce. He only wishes the best for her. However, Brad hasn’t reached out to Jen, and has no plans to do so at this point.” And finally, Aniston’s publicist made a statement to Hello on February 17, in which they wrote off the reports as “complete fabrication.”
So sadly, it seems there will never be an Aniston-Pitt reunion. Yet perhaps it’s for the best – both of them need time to put their lives back together after their relationship breakdowns, after all. Maybe (hopefully!) they will both find people who can make them happy for good. But it’s clear neither of them can be that person to the other.