A favorite axiom of Hollywood is that the best actors and actresses draw their performances from the rich tapestry of their own real-life experiences, which might explain why so many on-screen couples have ended up hooking up even after the cameras stopped rolling.
Then again, maybe it’s not that surprising. After all, you’re taking some of the most attractive specimens of humanity available, and then smooshing them together under a panoply of romantic lighting and sweeping music and heightened emotions. Really, what else are they supposed to do in that situation?
For the purposes of this list, we’re sticking to the lesser known Hollywood couples-- the relationships that managed to stay off the media’s radar. (No Brad Pitts or Angelina Jolies here.)
On the rare exceptions where a super famous A-lister pops up, it's to highlight one of their forgotten hook-ups, the rebound in between the headline grabbers. There are also a few examples where the real life relationship is totally obvious, but the on-screen romance that started the whole thing has been forgotten.
What exactly does all that mean? Grab your popcorn and your supermarket tabloid and get ready to find out.
Here are the 16 Movie Couples You Never Knew Dated In Real Life.
16 Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow (and Matt Damon and Winona Ryder) - Shakespeare in Love
Lost in the wake of their other, higher-profile hook-ups, Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow, co-stars in both Shakespeare in Love and 2000’s plane crash rom-com Bounce, actually dated for a while from 1997 to 2000.
Simultaneously, they got their best friends together, with Winona Ryder and Matt Damon dating for a hot minute, until Ryder and Paltrow had a falling out over the success of Shakespeare in Love.
Affleck famously went on to Bennifer it up, dating both Jennifer Lopez (Gigli, Jersey Girl) and Jennifer Garner (Daredevil), while Paltrow had already dated Brad Pitt (Seven). She would go on to more quietly date Luke Wilson, her co-star in The Royal Tenenbaums, in which they played a pseudo-incestuous brother and adopted sister.
Matt Damon, meanwhile, also dated his Good Will Hunting co-star Minnie Driver – famously breaking up with her on Oprah Winfrey’s couch – and his All the Pretty Horses co-star Penelope Cruz afterwards.
15 Chris Pratt and Anna Faris - Take Me Home Tonight
While we’re all still reeling from the news that Hollywood’s most adorable (and seemingly enduring) couple have split, not everyone seems to be aware that Chris Pratt and Anna Faris weren’t simply conjured together by a benevolent universe. No, they actually met the old-fashioned way: by pretending to be a couple on a movie set.
The movie in question was Take Me Home Tonight, an unacclaimed ‘80s drug comedy starring Topher Grace that filmed back in 2007 – though the movie wasn’t released until 2011 due to excessive amounts of (on-camera) cocaine use. Anna Faris played Grace’s twin sister in the flick, while Chris Pratt played her boyfriend/fiancé/ex.
Despite the tumultuousness on-screen romance, though, the two hit it off and were soon married. Son Jack followed in 2012, and all seemed right with the world. Until a couple weeks ago, that is. Now everything feels dark and terrible.
14 Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult - X-Men: First Class
After meeting while filming X-Men: First Class, stars Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) and Nicholas Hoult (Beast) bonded over all their blue face paint and began dating.
An on-and-off again affair that wasn’t as under the spotlight as one might expect, the two called it quits for good in 2014 – just in time to have to film X-Men: Apocalypse together.
The two were together for the better part of five years, before deciding that the hecticness of their lives – Jennifer Lawrence exploding into J-Law, Hoult trying to survive Mad Max: Fury Road – and constantly being apart was too difficult to maintain.
Hoult is currently dating Playboy model Bryana Holly, while Lawrence – after being spuriously blamed for breaking up Chris Pratt and Anna Faris while filming Passengers – is in a relationship with Darren Aronofsky, director of her upcoming horror film Mother!
13 Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth - The Last Song
According to Nicholas Sparks, author of The Last Song, the syrupy novel upon which the syrupy 2010 movie of the same name was based, Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth were meant to be.
The movie itself, however, is barely worth talking about: The Last Song was critically panned and currently holds a 20% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes. However, like The Notebook before it, there’s something about working on a Nicholas Sparks movie that seems to breed romance.
Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth began dating on set, got engaged, ended that engagement in 2013, and then got engaged again. Additionally, as of a few weeks ago, speculation was rampant that they might actually be married now.
Whatever the case, here’s hoping they fair better than Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams.
12 Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan - Ruby Sparks
Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan first met as actors in Ethan Hawke’s 2007 off-Broadway play Things We Want, before playing the fractious couple at the heart of Kazan’s 2012 magical realist rom-com Ruby Sparks.
In between, both actors have been nothing but supportive of each other’s explosive rise through the Hollywood ranks, with Dano winning acclaim for There Will Be Blood and Love & Mercy, and Kazan most recently making waves with The Big Sick.
Written by Zoe Kazan herself, Ruby Sparks tells the story of a struggling writer who, as an exercise, describes his dream girl, only for the woman to appear in real life the next morning.
While she didn’t originally plan on starring in the movie, with or without Paul Dano, as the film progressed it became readily apparent to the couple that the movie really was about them after all.
Hey, write what you know, right?
11 Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp - Edward Scissorhands
While Johnny Depp's currently in the news for all the wrong reasons, no one was anything but enchanted when he began dating Winona Ryder in the early ‘90s. Well, he was 27 and she was 18, so maybe “enchanted” isn’t quite the right word...
Depp and Ryder were engaged in 1990, a mere five months after their first date and the same year that they co-starred in Edward Scissorhands, then remained engaged for the remaining four years of their relationship.
The two were nothing if not smitten with one another, with Johnny even getting a tattoo that said “Winona Forever” on his arm. Naturally, after the break-up, he had it changed to read “Wino Forever.”
Time, as they say, heals all wounds, and the two seemingly harbor no ill will toward each other, with Ryder even rushing to Depp’s defense against claims that he allegedly abused ex-wife Amber Heard. Kinda feels like time isn’t going to fix that one, though.
10 Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan Tatum - Step Up
Like some of the other couples on this list, Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan Tatum seem like they’ve just always been.
You’d be forgiven for forgetting that they actually met cutting a rug together in 2006’s Step Up, the dance movie that spawned a franchise that all but defines the term “diminishing returns.”
Anyway, Jenna Dewan Tatum (currently playing Lucy Lane on Supergirl) was a professional dancer who, after working with the likes of Janet Jackson, Missy Elliott and Christina Aguilera, made the jump to the big screen. While filming, she fell for co-star Channing Tatum, even though she desperately tried not to.
As the story goes, she was in her hotel room when Channing showed up drunk and wearing a sombrero, and, well, the rest is history.
9 Dominic Cooper and Amanda Seyfried - Mamma Mia!
Mamma Mia!, the film based on the Broadway musical based on the music of ABBA, is the story of a young woman who, on the eve of her wedding, decides to find out who her real father is, utilizing the time-honored tactics of deception and upbeat singing.
The bride in question was played by Amanda Seyfried, and the groom was none other than Dominic Cooper. While the two were betrothed in the movie, the real life relationship didn’t quite get that far. After two years together, the couple split – with allegations that Cooper cheated with an ex.
While Seyfried was understandably heartbroken over the way things played out, she’s since done pretty well for herself, both professionally and personally.
She’s currently married to actor Thomas Sadoski, and earlier this year they had a daughter. Dominic Cooper, meanwhile, is currently involved with Ruth Negga, his co-star on Preacher.
Hopefully things won’t get too weird when Cooper and Seyfried reunite later this year for Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again.
8 Dev Patel and Freida Pinto - Slumdog Millionaire
Finding themselves drawn together both on-screen and off-, Dev Patel and Freida Pinto began dating in 2008, during the filming of Slumdog Millionaire. The couple were rocksteady for years, until they called it quits in 2014.
As Pinto explained it, she had a bit of an existential crisis and needed to figure herself out. They were both young and relatively unknown when they met, and the success of Slumdog hurled them both into the spotlight – a light which hasn’t yet dimmed.
Pinto has worked steadily since then, most recently appearing in the British series Guerilla, while Patel has racking up awards for his work in Lion.
Freida Pinto and Dev Patel are still pretty tight, with both acknowledging that, while over, their relationship was still important and a big part of who they are now.
7 Renee Zellweger and Jim Carrey - Me, Myself & Irene
Me, Myself & Irene, the 2000 Farrelly brothers’ hit about a schizophrenic cop (Jim Carrey) who falls for Renée Zellweger’s titular Irene, proved to be a romantic comedy on both sides of the camera.
As the insiders tell it, Jim Carrey fell for Renée Zellweger almost immediately, while she, on the other hand, was a big proponent of not dating guys she worked with. Eventually she came around, though, and she and Carrey dated for over a year, even getting engaged at one point.
That engagement, though, was a point of contention – according to sources, Zellweger really wanted it, Carrey not so much; or, according to other sources, it may have been the other way around. Needless to say, the two split up in December 2000.
There appears to be no bad blood between the two, though, with Zellweger even vouching for Carrey after accusations were thrown at him about his girlfriend, Cathriona White’s, suicide in 2015.
6 Rachel Bilson and Hayden Christensen - Jumper
The 2007 film Jumper stars Hayden Christensen as the Jumper in question, while Rachel Bilson plays his girlfriend.
The pair spend the movie teleporting across the globe, making out in exotic places, and fleeing a religious cult that’s trying to destroy all the Jumpers. Also, Kristen Stewart is there for, like, a minute.
Apparently super fond of the “making out in exotic places” part of the movie, Bilson and Christensen began dating in real life, and then kept dating. The two even welcomed a daughter, Briar Rose, into the world in 2014.
In fact, everything seems to be so perfect between Rachel Bilson and Hayden Christensen that the biggest problem they’re currently facing is whether or not to explain to their daughter that her daddy’s Darth Vader.
5 Carey Mulligan and Shia LaBeouf - Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Co-starring in the sequel that no one was asking for, Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Carey Mulligan and Shia LaBeouf played, respectively, the estranged daughter of Gordon Gekko and her fiancé, a Wall Street guy. Shenanigans, and Michael Douglas, ensue.
The two hooked up on set and afterwards, for about a year, before breaking up in 2010. Perhaps not surprisingly, the split was alleged to not be the prettiest, with the two claiming they simply had incompatible lifestyles.
Mulligan seems to be doing all right for herself since then, though, now married to Mumford & Sons’ Marcus Mumford – her, no joke, childhood pen pal.
The two reconnected while working on the Coen brother’s Inside Llewyn Davis, and picked up right where they left off, with baby number two already rumored to be on the way.
Shia LaBeouf, meanwhile, continues to be Shia LaBeouf.
4 Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn - The Break-Up
Jennifer Aniston has had her share of high-profile relationships over the years, but does anyone remember the year she dated her The Break-Up co-star Vince Vaughn? ‘Cause we sure as heck didn’t.
Vaughn was actually Aniston’s first hook-up post Brad Pitt in 2005, and both of them seem to have acknowledged the rebound nature of their relationship over the years.
Aniston, in particular, has said that Vaughn “brought [her] back to life,” but the coupling simply “ran its course.” Vaughn, for his part, apparently couldn’t hang with the level of media scrutiny that dating Jennifer Aniston brings.
In any event, they’re both doing pretty great now, with Vince Vaughn happily married to Kyla Weber, and Aniston hitched to fellow actor Justin Theroux – with whom she worked on the movie Wanderlust.
3 Carrie Fisher and Dan Aykroyd - The Blues Brothers
Carrie Fisher had her share of tumultuous relationships over the years, and she wasn’t shy about sharing. (Cough-- Harrison Ford.) One that flew under the radar, though? Her engagement to Dan Aykroyd.
In between stints with singer Paul Simon, Fisher shacked up with her The Blues Brothers co-star Dan Aykroyd. They were both close friends with John Belushi, and had met previously on Saturday Night Live, but it was on the set of Blues Brothers that they really hit it off.
Literally: After Carrie Fisher began choking in Aykroyd’s trailer, he had to perform the Heimlich maneuver. Ten minutes later, as the story goes, he proposed.
Dan Aykroyd gave her a sapphire ring, while Fisher gave him a surrealist oil painting of a monkey. While they were seriously moving forward on the marriage front, they never actually pulled the trigger: Fisher got back together with Paul Simon.
2 Zoe Saldana and Bradley Cooper - The Words
The Words was a 2012 mystery-romance movie about a thieving writer who, nonetheless, finds publishing success. Mainly, though, everyone went to see it because of the crazy chemistry between Zoe Saldana and Bradley Cooper.
It is perhaps not surprising, then, that the two began dating on-and-off for about two years – though both were fairly secretive of the relationship at the time, and well afterwards.
In a 2014 interview with Marie Claire, Saldana talked a lot of smack about her exes, though without naming names. She does, however, say of dating fellow actors: “Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.” Bradley Cooper, meanwhile, hasn’t said much about it at all.
Still, silence speaks volumes. Maybe it was for the best that Cooper wasn’t on set during the filming of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.
1 Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz - Sahara
2005’s Sahara was a treasure-hunting adventure flick starring Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz as the film’s main characters and love interests. The two began dating on set, though the relationship was short-lived, with McConaughey dumping Cruz upon seeing his future wife, Brazilian model Camila Alves, in a bar.
Given the history of the two, both the fling and its quick resolution weren’t really all that surprising.
Matthew McConaughey had previously dated Ashley Judd, his co-star in A Time to Kill, as well as, allegedly, Sandra Bullock, his other co-star in A Time to Kill.
Penelope Cruz, meanwhile, dated Tom Cruise after starring with him in Vanilla Sky, as well as, previously mentioned, Matt Damon when they filmed All the Pretty Horses. She’s since married Javier Bardem, her, you guessed it, co-star in both Jamón Jamón and Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Any other couples we missed? Anyone you wish was still together? Let us know in the comments!