As Hollywood’s most popular power couple, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie transformed into an exemplar of an unconventional romance – resisting legal marriage, adopting and raising their children and weathering whatever life threw at them with ease.
On Monday, September 19th, the Academy Award-winning actress, 41, filed divorce documents, citing irreconcilable differences. The pair married in 2014 and Jolie Pitt is seeking physical custody of the their six children – Maddox, 15, Pax, 12, Zahara, 11, Shiloh, 10, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 8 – and she requested that the Fight Club actor, 52, only get joint legal custody. She is not asking for spousal support.
“This decision was made for the health of the family,” attorney Robert Offer said in a statement to Reuters. “She will not be commenting and asks that the family be given its privacy at this time.”
Pitt is currently starring in Allied, a World War II drama co-starring Marion Cotillard (who has been dragged into the tabloid fray). Pitt told People in a statement: “I am very saddened by this, but what matters most now is the well being of our kids. I kindly ask the press to give them the space they deserve during this challenging time.”
Here’s a look back at the Brangelina romance, as it has played on and off screen.
January 2004: Filming Starts on ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie begin filming the action comedy Mr. & Mrs. Smith, about a married couple that discovers they’re assassins who have been hired by rival agencies to kill each other. Nicole Kidman had been originally attached to co-star alongside Pitt, but she dropped out due to a conflict filming The Stepford Wives. At the time, Pitt was still married to Jennifer Aniston, while Jolie was coming off a divorce from Billy Bob Thornton.
As Peter Travers wrote in his review of the film: “Pitt and Jolie make sexy sparring partners, but they can’t lift this leaden material.”
Despite a tepid critical response, it was enough of a vehicle to launch the Brangelina industry.
May 2004: Rumors of Pitt, Jolie Romance Begin
Just months into filming Mr. & Mrs. Smith, the tabloids began reporting that Pitt and Jolie’s on-screen chemistry was turning into something more intimate off-screen. In a 2006 interview with Vogue, Jolie would recall: “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. 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.”
August 2004: ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’ Set Photos Surface
Pitt and Jolie reunited on the set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith after spending much of the summer apart while Pitt filmed Ocean’s 12. Back in May, Pitt and Jennifer Aniston had ostensibly put the initial affair rumours to rest when they appeared together at the Troy premiere, but the paparazzi swiftly reignited them with photographs of Jolie and Pitt looking very close on set. The film’s crew, however, insisted they were just in character.
January 2005: Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston Announce Separation
After nearly five years together, Pitt and Aniston announce that they are separating. Over the next few months, paparazzi will swarm Mr. & Mrs. Smith re-shoots in Los Angeles, only to discover Pitt and Jolie’s trailers are inside the set. Not long after, the love triangle nearly combusts at the National Association of Theatre Owners’ ShoWest convention, where Pitt and Jolie promote Mr. & Mrs. Smith hours before Anniston receives the Female Star of the Year award. On March 25th, 2005, Anniston officially files for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.
April 19th, 2005: Pitt, Jolie Vacation Together in Kenya
After almost a year of speculation, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie emerge from their cocoon of rumor and assumed their final form as a real-life celebrity couple: The pair were photographed vacationing at Diani Beach, Kenya with Jolie’s then three-year-old son, Maddox. While reps for both actors continued to deny the pair’s relationship status, Us Weekly witnesses reported that the pair “shared [a] long passionate kiss” and that Pitt applied sunblock to Jolie’s shoulders as if he were giving her “a sensual massage.”
April 30th, 2005: Pitt Flies to London, Picks Up Jolie
The night before production for Alfonso González Iñárritu’s Babel was set to begin, Pitt picked his beloved Jolie up from London and flew her to Morocco to keep him company. The moniker “Brangelina” is born as the recently-minted couple spends an amorous night together before Jolie, per People magazine, makes a getaway in the morning.
Sept 2006: Co-Found Jolie/Pitt Foundation
Jolie and Pitt announced the creation of the Jolie/Pitt Foundation. The couple christened the charity by making sizable contributions to two organizations: $1 million went to the now-defunct Global Action for Children, a NGO that supported orphans in developing countries; another $1 million — earmarked for families affected by HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty — was given to Doctors Without Borders. Over the next several years the pair expanded their philanthropic work around the world, funding projects in New Orleans, Cambodia, Ethiopia and Haiti.
March 2007: Jolie and Pitt Adopt Pax
Pax, child number four, joined Jolie from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The boy, born Pham Quang Sang, was abandoned by his biological mother at birth, but he found new hope with the Jolie-Pitt clan at age 3. (Due to sanctions against unmarried couples adopting children in Vietnam, Jolie files for adoption as a single parent, then Pitt co-adopts the young boy once he gets to America.) Though he’s renamed Pax, the young boy will remain in touch with his roots, as a recent Vanity Fair story states that he’s learning Vietnamese. That is, in addition to child-deejaying lessons.
May 2008: Jolie Says She and Pitt Are Expecting Twins
While drumming up buzz for Kung Fu Panda at the Cannes Film Festival, Jolie stole the spotlight with a major announcement: More children are on the way! She stated that twins Vivienne and Knox would bring the total count to six. She gave birth in July at a seaside hospital in Nice, and she sold the rights to the first photos of the bouncing bundles of joy to People and Hello! magazines for a cool $14 million. If that seems exploitative, Jolie’s one step ahead of you – all proceeds from the sale went to the Jolie/Pitt Foundation.
July 2005: Pitt, Jolie Head to Ethiopia Together
When the couple traveled to Ethiopia together to adopt Jolie’s second child, their romance was still unconfirmed. Their intimate journey to help expand the actress and humanitarian’s family and timing following Pitt’s divorce from Aniston not only added more evidence to the speculation of their relationship, it also helped redirect the tabloid’s attention to the African AIDs crisis that had left many children like their daughter, Zahara Marley, orphaned.
January 2006: Jolie Confirms Pregnancy of Pitt’s Biological Child
It’s a close call on whether Brangelina was the “worst” or “best” kept Hollywood secret: Even though speculation persisted for over a year, it took until Jolie officially announced her pregnancy with first child, Shiloh, for any semblance of the truth to come out. Around the same time that People broke the story, Pitt began the process of legally acquiring custody of Jolie’s adoptive children Maddox and Zahara, whose last names were being changed to Jolie-Pitt.
June 7th, 2006: Couple Hold a Press Conference Following Shiloh’s Birth
The People cover stars held a joint press conference following the birth of their daughter in Namibia, saying that they chose the region because “we love this part of the world, and also, our other daughter [Zahara Marley] was born in Africa … this is a special continent for us.” Pitt also thanked the people of the country for helping them with the “truly peaceful” birth of the child.
August 2010: Jolie Says She’s Not Pregnant
Hailed as “Angelina the Conqueror” in a Vanity Fair cover feature, Jolie squashed the rumours that she’s with child once more. “We’re not opposed to it,” she says. “But we want to make sure we can give everybody special time. … We want to make sure we don’t build a family so big that we don’t have absolutely enough time to raise them each really well.” The profile paints her as a household goddess exulting in her domestic phase, fielding the challenges of motherhood while continuing to pursue her professional aspirations. Or to put it in 30 Rock terms, “having it all.”
November 2010: Jonny Depp Calls Brad Angelina’s ‘Husband’
While talking to Patti Smith for a Vanity Fair cover story, Depp compared Jolie, his costar on The Tourist, to Elizabeth Taylor, and said he was “pleased to find that she is incredibly normal, and has a wonderfully dark, perverse sense of humor.” He then detailed what he saw the the actress go through during filming: “Poor thing, dogged by paparazzi, her and her husband, Brad … all their kids.” It was the husband part, naturally, that everyone focused on immediately, leading many to speculate that the two had already married in secret.
October 2006: Pitt Says They Won’t Marry Until Legal for Everyone
Once their romance and launch of their family seemed settled, tabloid focus shifted to just when the pair would marry one another. In an interview with Esquire, Pitt revealed that the couple had chosen to not get married until all couples could legally wed. Even so, the pair still got married in 2014, nearly a year before same-sex marriage was declared legal in all 50 states.
April 2012: Jolie, Pitt Confirm They Are Engaged
Representatives for Pitt and Jolie confirmed that the couple was planning, at long last, to tie the knot. “It is a promise for the future and their kids are very happy,” Pitt’s manager, Cynthia Pett-Dante, told People, adding, “There’s no date set at this time.” The ring, which Pitt designed with Jeweler Robert Procop, features 16-carats of emerald-cut diamonds. Early reports pegged its value at $1million; that figure was later revised downward to half a million dollars and finally a reported $250,000.
May 2013: Jolie Reveals Her Preventive Double Mastectomy
At age 37, Jolie chose to undergo a double mastectomy after finding out that she carried a defective BRCA1 gene which gave her an 87-percent chance of developing breast cancer. Both her mother and grandmother died of ovarian cancer while her mother also suffered from breast cancer. Her maternal aunt also died from breast cancer. “Once I knew this was my reality, I decided to be proactive and minimize the risk as much as I could,” she wrote in a much-read (and debated) New York Times op-ed. “I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience.” In the piece she thanked Pit for being “so loving and supportive” during her procedure.
August 23rd, 2014: Pitt, Jolie Marry in France
Though it came before same-sex marriage was legalized across the United States, Brangelina wed after roughly a decade together. The couple had announced an engagement two years prior, and their quiet wedding took place at their Châueau Miraval estate in Correns, France. According to People, the pair only invited 20 guests. Jolie’s dress featured artwork from their six children who were also involved in the ceremony, with Maddox and Pax walking their mom down the aisle, Zahara and Vivienne serving as flower girls and Shiloh and Knox being the ring-bearers.
November 2014: Couple in Malta for ‘By the Sea’ Filming
A few months after marrying, Jolie Pitt discussed the nuptials for the first time with the press during the promotional ramp-up to the release of Unbroken, which she had directed. “We got married with our [six] children, and they were part of the ceremony,” she said on Today. “It was all of us agreeing to be together and to just commit to this life together. Not because we had to … because we were absolutely sure we felt that much of a family.”
The couple then filmed By the Sea, which starred both Pitt and Jolie, and she directed. “The tricky thing is directing myself and directing Brad. It’s hard, dramatic material, and we’re balancing,” she told DuJour magazine while taking a break from directing in Malta. “It’s a heavy film, and it’s not easy for us. But even as you struggle through it, you’re in the trenches together and you don’t expect it to be easy. We’re challenging each other and that’s a really good thing.” Jolie also predicted she would retire from acting and dedicate herself to directing and raising her family.
November 2015: ‘Brad and I Have Our Issues’
While promoting By the Sea, a film that was written and directed by Jolie Pitt and that starred the couple together, she spoke generally of tensions within the marriage. “Brad and I have our issues, but if the characters were even remotely close to our problems we couldn’t have made the film,” she told The Telegraph. “To be clear: We have fights and problems like any other couple. We have days when we drive each other absolutely mad and want space, but the problems in the movie aren’t our specific problems.”
March 2015: Jolie Had Her Ovaries Removed
Jolie Pitt revealed in a New York Times op-ed that she preemptively had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed after learning the risks she ran of getting ovarian cancer. “I called my husband in France, who was on a plane within hours,” she wrote. “The beautiful thing about such moments in life is that there is so much clarity. You know what you live for and what matters. It is polarizing, and it is peaceful.”
June 22nd, 2016: Signals of Trouble in Brangelina Paradise Reported
Us Weekly telegraphs (in print, but not online) one of the few signs that all is not well in the Brangelina landscape. The magazine reports Pitt and Jolie are at odds over whether or not to sell their Provence estate, Chateau Miraval, where the couple wed in 2014. (It’s also the vineyard where the couple grows its Miraval rose grapes.) A source tells the magazine that Jolie, who accepted a lecturing position at the London School of Economics in May, wants to unload the property as she is “ramping up her efforts in the political world.” The actress is reportedly interested in an appointment to the U.K.’s House of Lords, which she can only do if she becomes a tax-paying British resident.
September 20th, 2016: Jolie Files for Divorce
Early on Tuesday morning, Jolie filed for divorce. TMZ, first to the documents, had the details: Jolie, who retained the services of celebrity divorce lawyer Laura Wasser (her star-studded client roster lists Kim Kardashian, Heidi Klum, Gavin Rossdale), cited irreconcilable differences. She requests physical custody of the couple’s six children, but no spousal support.
A feeding frenzy of speculation followed. According to a source who spoke to Us: They disagreed about parenting styles. “They also fight over their schedules and politics still,” the source said. “They have a lot of very heated political fights.” (Us previously reported that Jolie held unfavorable views of Barack Obama, for whom Pitt was a major supporter and donor. Jolie’s father, Jon Voight, is also an outspoken critic of the president’s.) Us also reports that Jolie decided one week ago after an “incident.”
Page Six reported the real cause is an alleged affair between Pitt and Marion Cotillard, his co-star in the WWII drama Allied.
The couple’s lawyer told the AP simply: She did it “for the health of the family.”