Let’s talk about Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper during the A Star is Born era, shall we? We bought into every moment of their friendship (or was it a relationship?) the entire time the movie was being promoted. The chemistry that we saw between Ally and Jackson Maine was so real that we were sure something was going on between Gaga and Cooper. They swore to us up and down that it was all make-believe. But then the actor would give us quotes like this: “I love her so deeply,” he told TIME. “It’s because we were at our most vulnerable together.”
Do you see why we fell for this hook, line, and sinker? Never mind the fact that Cooper was living with then-girlfriend Irina Shayk and their daughter, Lea. We just wanted the fairy tale to be true, and there are plenty of people who will never believe that they weren’t a thing IRL. But they aren’t the only on-screen couple whose chemistry was so real that it sparked rumors that there might be something going on off-screen, too.
Let’s be honest: On-set chemistry can turn into off-set magic, and those lines can get blurred quickly. Sometimes the relationships get confirmed, while other times they become Hollywood lore, like Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. Some actors show up on this list more than once — we’re looking at you, Ben Affleck — so this might be a bad habit for some. Other times, aspects of a relationship get revealed like Jessica Simpson’s emotional affair with Johnny Knoxville, but we’re left wondering if there was something more.
Who made our list of rumored couples whose work was so believable on-screen, we think there could have been something off-screen? Take a look and see if you agree.
A version of this article was originally published in March 2021.
Aaron Dominguez & Selena Gomez
While Aaron Dominguez and Selena Gomez were filming the first season of Hulu’s Only Murders In The Building, tabloids ran rampant with stories the co-stars were a new item. “She deals with it a lot, I’m sure,” Dominguez said of his co-star fielding dating rumors during a press junket, per Insider. “When you’re under the spotlight a lot… that’s a pointed topic for her all the time.” Dominguez never outrightly shut down the speculation, so we’re still left wondering if the pair’s on-screen chemistry translated off-screen.
Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper
No matter how many times Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper tell us they are “just friends,” we will never be dissuaded from believing that their romantic — and highly convincing — performance of “Shallow” at the 2019 Oscars was real. That chemistry was so electric, it felt like no one else was in the room — even though millions were watching from around the globe.
Gaga understands us, though. She felt it, too — they had each other at “hello.” “The second that I saw him I was like, ‘Have I known you my whole life? It was an instant connection, instant understanding of one another,” she told Vogue in 2018. Maybe they were lovers in another life — just not this one.
Alisha Wainwright & Justin Timberlake
The movie Palmer came and went quickly after being released, but doubts still linger in some people’s minds about Justin Timberlake and co-star Alisha Wainwright. We do know they were caught by the prying eyes of the paparazzi in some light PDA that certainly didn’t make pregnant wife Jessica Biel happy.
Timberlake issued a mea culpa on his Instagram account promising that it was nothing more than a drunken, but inappropriate, flirtation caught on camera.
“A few weeks ago I displayed a strong lapse in judgment — but let me be clear — nothing happened between me and my costar,” he wrote. “I drank way too much that night and regret my behavior. I should have known better. This is not the example I want to set for my son.”
Marion Cotillard & Brad Pitt
We totally forgot about this one, but there was always a cloud of suspicion around Allied co-stars Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. The reason why we forgot is that these rumors dropped right around the time Angelina Jolie filed for divorce.
A Page Six source claimed in 2016 that Pitt was “in the throes of some insane midlife crisis.” Yet insiders on Cotillard’s side swore that she was solid with longtime boyfriend, French actor and director Guillaume Canet. “They are still very much together. They have been a couple since 2007 and have one child, but have never married.”
Lots of on-set photos showed Pitt and Cotillard looking cozy together, but maybe it was just great acting?
Will Smith & Margot Robbie
Now that Jada Pinkett Smith’s “entanglement” with singer August Alsina has been revealed, it’s time to revisit Will Smith and Margot Robbie’s clearly visible on-screen chemistry in 2015’s Focus.
There were rumors that there might have been something more than just a friendship in the tabloids after the two were seen canoodling together during a cast party, per Page Six. And we know that Will alluded to the fact that he hasn’t been a complete angel in his marriage during that frank Red Table Talk with his wife.
We are putting this pairing as a strong maybe, right?
Jessica Simpson & Johnny Knoxville
OK, there are some things we don’t have to wonder about when it comes to Jessica Simpson and Johnny Knoxville on the set of The Dukes of Hazzard in 2005. Simpson’s Open Book memoir let us in on the secret that it was a full-blown “emotional affair.”
“We had become actors in our own lives, playing ourselves,” she wrote in the book, per Hollywood Life. “Worse, we slowly acted out our parts even when cameras weren’t rolling. When we did appearances, we didn’t want to disappoint people by not doing the whole act. It didn’t feel wrong, because it was just exaggerated, idealized versions of ourselves. Heck, I wanted to be that happy.”
Even though Simpson has been forthcoming about the betrayal in her marriage to then-husband Nick Lachey, we wonder if it could also have crossed physical boundaries. Maybe she wanted to protect her ex from what we’ve all been wondering for over a decade?
Tom Holland & Zendaya
Did the two Spider-Man co-stars date or was it just a big PR set-up? If you want two successful, good-looking celebs to hook-up, then Zendaya and Tom Holland are a dream come true. Yet every time they were asked about a possible romance, the press got friend-zoned.
“We are friends,” she told Variety in 2017. “He’s a great dude. He’s literally one of my best friends.” That sounds nice, but certainly not passionate. Holland had similar denials despite flirtatious back-and-forth Instagram comments on each other’s profiles and that Oscar date in 2018.
These two want to keep us guessing for good — did it happen or was it just our imagination?
Blake Lively & Ben Affleck
While Blake Lively and Ben Affleck were filming The Town in 2009 in Boston, the paparazzi always seemed to catch them touching while the cameras weren’t rolling. He also gushed about her on Anderson Live and it just felt a little extra. “She is fabulous as you can see, she’s a gorgeous young woman,” he said. “She was in The Town with me and she was fabulous.”
It doesn’t help that Affleck wasn’t on his best behavior during his marriage to Jennifer Garner, so this keeps the possibility open: Might there have been more to this working relationship than meets the eye?
Emily Ratajkowski & Ben Affleck
Emily Ratajkowski seduced Ben Affleck on-screen in Gone Girl, but it’s hard to tell if they practiced those acting scenes off-screen. There was a lot of smoke when it came to the rumors, but there never seemed to be any fire. Ratajkowski often talked about the big age difference between the two of them and it made us feel like she really wasn’t interested in an older man.
“The whole experience was a little surreal, I have to be honest,” she told The Today Show about working with him. “Obviously, Ben Affleck is one of those – you know his face. I grew up with that face! Not sure he would like that.”
Lily James & Dominic West
Dominic West and Lily James made it really hard for us to believe that nothing happened. The Pursuit of Love stars, who are playing father and daughter in the project (eww!), were seen zipping around Rome last July in what clearly looked like some flirty PDA.
The end result was a canceled press junket for James for her movie Rebecca (more on that in the next photo) and an awkward staged press conference with West and his wife, Catherine Fitzgerald, who claim that everything is great in their marriage. The situation seems suspicious but…okay?
Armie Hammer & Lily James
The rumors around Rebecca co-stars Armie Hammer and Lily James surfaced around the same time as James and Dominic West’s carefree jaunt around Rome. The press wasn’t cutting the young actress a break, but she warned everyone during an interview with Grazie that what we see on social media and in the tabloids are “a complete minefield and very rarely what things appear to be.”
Jennifer Lawrence & Chris Pratt
Anna Faris did not love the rumors coming from the set of Passengers in 2016 alluding to the possibility that her then-husband Chris Pratt might be having an affair with co-star Jennifer Lawrence. Faris revealed in her memoir, Unqualified, that the gossip and constant media stories made her “feel insecure,” per US Weekly.
Lawrence took a direct approach to squashing the rumors, but it took her almost two years to address the issue. “I never had an affair with Chris Pratt on Passengers,” she told KISS FM. “That’s a good one. I mean they got a divorce like two years later and everybody was like, ‘Jennifer Lawrence!’ And I was like, ‘What the… what I’m in Montreal two years later.'”
Linda Cardellini & Jason Segel
Anyone who loved the cult classic Freaks and Geeks knows that Jason Segel’s character, Nick, had a major crush on Lindsay, played by Linda Cardellini. Who could forget him serenading her with the corny Styx ballad “Lady?”
For years, fans hoped that this on-screen duo carried over to real life — and they actually did. In this bit of long-forgotten gossip history, the actors wound up dating for several years after the show was canceled.
What made everyone really curious was that many people thought Segel wrote the movie, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, about his breakup with Cardellini. It’s all much ado about nothing, folks, because he confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that the Mad Men actress was “a great girlfriend.”
Abbie Cornish & Ryan Phillippe
Abbie Cornish worked with then-married actor Ryan Phillippe in 2006 on the movie, Stop-Loss. While the movie was forgettable, it was the heat coming off the two co-stars that had everyone talking, especially because Phillippe was married to Reese Witherspoon at the time.
Was the rumored affair the reason for the couple’s divorce? It’s hard to say even though Witherspoon called their split “very humiliating and very isolating,” per People. Cornish and Phillippe went on to date until 2010, so there’s definitely something to that on-set chemistry.
Michelle Pfeiffer & John Malkovich
Go back and watch 1988’s Dangerous Liasions, and tell me the heat between Michelle Pfeiffer and John Malkovich didn’t melt the screen. You had to throw water on everyone around you because the flames were everywhere.
So did this on-screen scorcher carry into real life? Hmm, it’s been reported that Malkovich cheated on his then-wife Glenne Headley with Pfeiffer, but then years later he basically denied that anything ever happened with them — or that they even worked together.
“It’s hard to believe Michelle Pfeiffer ever said hello to me — not that she’s not memorable, God knows. But I sort of blacked it out,” he told Esquire two decades later. “What I’m trying to say is, when I think of the other person, I don’t think of me as involved with them. They’re uncorrupted by me. As if they were never troubled by my existence.”
We call that rewriting history, my friend.
Amanda Bynes & Channing Tatum
The level of cuteness between Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum, seen in a 2006 interview for Fuse’s Daily Download, is off the charts. They were promoting She’s the Man and they were flirtatious with a capital “F.” (Watch her call him “Chan” — we love it!) There’s no denying that there was at least a crush going on.
Nothing has ever been confirmed or denied by these two, but Tatum has been supportive of Bynes after years of struggles with her mental health.
“I love her,” he told Entertainment Tonight in 2018. “I’m so happy she’s killing it again and just back on the right. She’s so talented and so special. She’s been doing it… I mean, I think it’s so impossible when you start at such a young age to keep perspective. It’s tough.”
Paris Hilton & Chad Michael Murray
You are going to need a scorecard for this entire story. Back in 2006, Paris Hilton — yes, she acts — and Chad Michael Murray starred in House of Wax together. Hilton was dating Backstreet Boy Nick Carter and Murray was married to Sophia Bush. There were rumors that the two co-stars enjoyed each other’s company beyond the pages of the script.
No one confirmed nor denied any of the tabloid stories until Carter opened his big mouth to Ryan Seacrest on KIIS FM in Los Angeles. He claims that not only did Hilton and Murray cheat, he says his act of revenge on his then-girlfriend was to hook up with Ashlee Simpson.
Does that make this alleged situation a love pentagon?
Carrie Fisher & Harrison Ford
For Star Wars fans, this is a dream come true. Who doesn’t love Princess Leia and Han Solo together in real life? Record scratch — Harrison Ford was married to first wife Mary Marquardt when he was allegedly involved with Carrie Fisher.
Now, Ford has never been one to kiss and tell, but Fisher blabbed about the supposed three-month affair in her memoir, The Princess Diarist. “It was Han and Leia during the week, and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend,” she wrote in the memoir, via E! News. It’s probably not the news Ford wanted to reveal, but he’s keeping this secret close to the vest — forever.
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