Relationships are a challenge even under normal, everyday circumstances; they certainly don’t get any easier once you add some fame and fortune into the mix. Perhaps that why we see so many famous people - actors, musicians, writers, etc. - stick to their own circles, so to speak, when it comes to romance. After all, it must be challenging for an accountant and an Oscar-winning actress to make the same level of party conversation. At least a fellow star has an idea of what the unique life you lead is really like.
Yet, not all famous couples are created equal. Or, more accurately, not all fame is created equal. When actors marry other actors, musicians, and other famous people, there is almost always some discrepancy in terms of who is the more famous individual. Sure, you get the occasional power couple, but more often than not, there is a member of the relationship that is known more as so-and-so’s husband or wife than they are for their own professional work. Maybe that’s the key to making such a marriage work - or maybe it can undermine a Hollywood relationship entirely.
Here are 15 Hollywood Stars Completely Overshadowed By Their Famous Significant Others.
15 Jada Pinkett Smith (Will Smith)
There was actually a time when these two were considered to be something of a power couple. Will Smith was starring in hit after hit at the box office and Jada Pinkett was on the rise thanks to her appearances in The Matrix Reloaded, Ali, and Collateral. Then... well, one of the two managed to stay in the spotlight.
While Smith opted to move beyond the summer blockbuster stage of his career, he's still shown up in several high-profile movies. Pinkett Smith, though, began appearing in fewer and fewer films and usually took on smaller roles when she did agree to a job.
While Pinkett Smith is still acting - she spent a couple seasons on Gotham - you’d be forgiven for forgetting that fact, given that Smith continues to be a large draw and Pinkett Smith has turned acting into something of a secondary pursuit.
14 Deborra-Lee Furness (Hugh Jackman)
Deborra-lee Furness was never really a very well-known actress outside of Australia, but she appeared in quite a few movies and television shows from the late ‘70s to early ‘90s. She even managed to snag a couple of critics' awards along the way. Her career forever changed in 1995 when she met a young actor by the name of Hugh Jackman on the set of a show called Correlli.
The two hit it off right away and were married not long after their first encounter. About four years after their marriage, Hugh Jackman hit the big time by virtue of his starring role in X-Men. As for Furness, she all but disappeared from the acting scene. She occasionally appeared in a random TV series or movie but seems to have stepped away from acting.
13 Jessica Biel (Justin Timberlake)
Does anyone remember Jessica Biel? Okay, that’s a little harsh, but it’s hard to deny that Biel's star has certainly fallen a bit since the early 2000s. At that time, Biel seemed to be on the way to becoming the next Hollywood “It” girl. She just needed one or two truly great roles to go over the top.
Biel never really found those breakout roles, but she did find love in 2007 when she began dating singer/songwriter Justin Timberlake. The two were married by 2012 and have had one child together since that time.
Timberlake was certainly the more famous of the two by the time that the couple got married, and his status as such has only been solidified in recent years. It’s hard to imagine that Biel will experience a true career resurgence in the acting world, but she runs a successful kids' restaurant in LA.
12 Lisa Bonet (Jason Momoa)
It’s safe to say that the majority of people familiar with Lisa Bonet’s acting career know her by virtue of her role as Denise Huxtable on The Cosby Show. What some people may forget is that there was a time when Bonet seemed to be successfully transitioning to the world of film. Her appearances in Angel Heart, High Fidelity and Enemy of the State showcased her character range and suggested she could become a sought-after leading lady.
Strangely enough, Bonet moved back to television around the same time that she was rumored to have begun dating actor Jason Momoa. While Bonet’s appearances on shows like Girls and Ray Donovan have kept her relevant in the acting world, Momoa appearance on Game of Thrones and his recent work as Aquaman have helped him gain a great deal more fame.
11 Lauren Miller (Seth Rogen)
Everyone knows Seth Rogen from his signature laugh and his stoner bro style of comedy. He's translated that rep into far-reaching producing/acting/directing/writing career in film and TV. But when his personal life comes to mind, you probably picture his bevy of other famous friends, not his actress/screenwriter wife, Lauren Miller.
Rogen and Miller began dating in 2004, and she subsequently had small roles in several of his films. They've been married since 2011, and though she's never become a household name, Miller has since written, produced, and starred in indie comedy For a Good Time Call..., in which Rogen had a cameo role. Next up on Miller's plate is writing and directing another film, Like Father, starring Kristen Bell, Kelsey Grammer, and... you guessed it: Seth Rogen.
10 Anna Faris (Chris Pratt)
Though this pair is no longer a couple, this is certainly one of the most fascinating cases of differing levels of fame in a relationship in recent memory.
As you may know, Anna Faris and Chris Pratt began dating around 2007. At that time, Farris was a fairly sought-after actress and a charming comedic performer. Pratt, meanwhile, had only enjoyed decent TV roles and bit parts in larger projects and was hardly known at all. He was certainly considered to be the lucky one by many.
Then came Parks and Recreation, Guardians of the Galaxy, Pratt’s tremendous physical transformation, and his current status as a bonafide movie star. It’s rumored that Pratt’s sudden rise to stardom was a contributing factor to his and Faris’ 2016 split.
9 Dax Shepard (Kristen Bell)
Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell reportedly began dating in 2007. At that time, Bell was certainly the bigger star of the two. She had not only starred in the cult classic series Veronica Mars, but made memorable appearances in shows like Deadwood, Heroes, and Gossip Girl. Shepard, meanwhile, was mostly known for his work on the show Punk’d and his appearance in smaller hit films like Idiocracy.
Shepard has certainly experienced a bit of an uptick in fame since then - a starring role on Parenthood and his 2017 directorial debut CHiPS, which co-starred Bell and was an unfortunate flop. But we’d still say that Bell is easily the more famous of the two.
Even if she hadn’t signed on to the hit NBC show The Good Place, she's inarguably still be a bigger name by virtue of her previous work. After all, she's Anna from Frozen!
8 David Burtka (Neil Patrick Harris)
Remember when Neil Patrick Harris was more or less known as Doogie Howser? His career was something of a joke at that point. You’d see him in a film or on a show and say “Oh look, it’s Doogie Howser.” That was before Harris parodied himself in Harold and Kumar, re-entered the public spotlight, and revitalized his career with his role on How I Met Your Mother.
Harris actually met future husband David Burtka while working on How I Met Your Mother. At that time, Burtka was only really known by Hollywood casting agents who were staring at his picture at that moment.
Burtka actually soft-retired from acting shortly after meeting Harris. He now works as a professional chef in charge of an L.A. catering service.
7 Nancy Carell (Steve Carell)
Here’s another comedy couple whose careers seemed to be on similar paths for quite some time. Nancy Carell, born Nancy Walls, was one of many comedians who got their start touring with Chicago-based comedy troupes. That’s actually where she met her future husband, Steve Carell. Not long after, Nancy got her big break on Saturday Night Live and joined The Daily Show soon thereafter. Steve Carell also joined the Comedy Central program at around the same time but didn’t quite have Nancy’s resume.
That all changed around 2004-2005 when Carrel appeared in Anchorman and then signed on to star in NBC’s version of The Office. Once The Office took off and The 40-Year-Old Virgin became a hit, Carrell became one of the most sought-after comedic actors in America. He’s even transitioned to drama quite nicely. Meanwhile, you’re most likely to find Nancy Carell playing a bit role here and there, though the couple co-creator the TBS comedy Angie Tribeca together.
6 Julius Tennon (Viola Davis)
This is one of those cases that makes you realize that fame is a relative - and sometimes fickle - concept. Julius Tennon may not be a name that everyone recognizes straight away, but that’s not a comment on the man’s work. One look at his filmography reveals that he has appeared in such films as Batman v Superman, Dazed and Confused, and Small Soldiers. He’s known as a great character actor and bit player.
Viola Davis doesn’t enjoy quite as long of a resume, but it is filled with more high profile and prestige work. Davis’ work in The Help, How to Get Away With Murder, and Suicide Squad have established her as an actress capable of playing a variety of roles. In recent years, she's become the only black actress to win an Emmy, Tony, and Oscar - plus her multiple SAG and Golden Globe awards. Davis is clearly on the upswing of her career while Tennon's seems to be slowing down.
5 Robin Dearden (Bryan Cranston)
Robin Dearden and Bryan Cranston reportedly met on the set of the television series, Airwolf. At that time, you could have easily argued that Dearden was the more famous of the two. She wasn’t a household name, but her appearances on programs like The A-Team, Happy Days, and Magnum P.I. made her something of a television fixture. Cranston, meanwhile, was bouncing from small role to small role with no sign of a breakout in sight.
While Cranston certainly became a household name by the time that Breaking Bad became one of the most beloved shows in recent television history, his fame surpassed Dearden’s by virtue of his work on Malcolm in the Middle alone. Dearden, meanwhile, has only appeared in eight roles since the year 2000.
4 Brad Hall (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)
Don’t feel too bad if this is the first time that you’re hearing about Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ “famous” husband. These two first met when they were attending Northwestern University and stayed together as they performed on Saturday Night Live and other comedy troupe venues. Actually, they were pretty much on the same career path until 1990 when Dreyfus began starring on Seinfeld.
As you might imagine, that had a great impact on how famous Dreyfus was in comparison to her husband. This is actually one of those darkly amusing relationships where you realize that most people discover Brad Hall when searching for Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ husband.
As for Hall, he occasionally works as a bit-part actor, director, and writer. He even appeared on some episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm as Dreyfus’ husband.
3 Pauletta Washington (Denzel Washington)
Were it not for the invention of IMDB, most people might not have any idea that Pauletta Washington - born Pauletta Pearson - was an actress at all. From 1977 to present, Pauletta has only appeared as an accredited actress nine times. She actually went 14 years without a role.
Of course, none of her roles have been as important to her career and life as her first on-screen appearance in the 1977 made-for-TV movie, Wilma. It was there that she met her future husband, Denzel Washington.
We’re willing to bet that you don’t need IMDB to start rattling off some of Denzel Washington’s best career roles. The man is one of the most respected actors of all time. While Pauletta Washington still takes the occasional acting odd job, she likely won’t surpass her husband’s acting achievements anytime soon.
2 Calista Flockhart (Harrison Ford)
It’s hard to believe that these two have been together since 2002. At that time, Flockhart was seen as a major actress whose career had only just begun. Her time on the hit show Ally McBeal was at an end, and Flockhart seemed poised to take over the world of film. Ford, meanwhile, was enjoying the worst years of his acting career by virtue of his appearance in such classic films as Hollywood Homicide.
Even if Flockhart’s career had remained promising - it didn’t - and Ford’s career had continued to fall - it also didn’t - you’d still have a hard time arguing that Flockhart’s height of fame came anywhere near Ford’s peak. Given that Ford is currently enjoying a comeback tour of his hit roles and Flockhart is usually only seen on television, we’d say their dynamic isn’t likely to change.
1 Rita Wilson (Tom Hanks)
There’s a possibility that you know Rita Wilson’s name by virtue of her acting career alone. After all, she has appeared in such movies as Sleepless in Seattle, Runaway Bride, and Jingle All The Way. She’s also known to turn up on hit television shows in some capacity. Most likely, though, you know her by virtue of her longtime marriage to fellow actor Tom Hanks.
No disrespect to Wilson intended - she’s a great actress - but there are few actors anywhere who enjoy Tom Hanks’ level of fame and acting accomplishments. He’s arguably one of the greatest and most beloved actors of all-time. That being the case, it’s far more likely you know Rita Wilson by virtue of her longest role, as Hanks' wife.
Which other Hollywood couples have one star who shines way brighter? Let us know in the comments!