Does a Best Actress Oscar Lead to Divorce?

Though we don't tend to pry too much into actors' personal lives at Movieline, we couldn't help but notice a striking trend in the wake of Kate Winslet's divorce from Sam Mendes and the recent infidelity rumors that have rocked Sandra Bullock's marriage to Jesse James. Namely, why have so many Best Actress winners from the last decade seen their relationships implode shortly after?

Kate Torgovnick at The Frisky advanced the idea of a Best Actress relationship curse earlier this month -- and that's before the news about Winslet and Bullock. Consider the evidence:

· In 2000, Hilary Swank won the award for the previous year's Boys Don't Cry, and forgot to thank husband Chad Lowe in her acceptance speech. Though she corrected the error when her 2005 Million Dollar Baby win added a second Oscar to her mantle, the couple divorced a year later.

· In 2001, Julia Roberts took home the Oscar for Erin Brockovich and thanked boyfriend Benjamin Bratt in her speech, who got his very own reaction shot out of it. Three months later, they were over.

· 2002 winner Halle Berry had it worse: Husband Eric Benet went to sex addiction rehab to cope with his cheating in the wake of Berry's win. They divorced the next year.

· In 2004, Oscar-winning Charlize Theron promised that she and actor boyfriend Stuart Townsend would never wed until gay marriage was legal. Helping matters: their break-up in January.

· Ryan Philippe certainly looked excited when Reese Witherspon won her Oscar in 2006, but the couple divorced eight months later as Philippe took up with the lesser-known Abbie Cornish.

There are a scant few exceptions to the rule over the past decade. Nicole Kidman was already a single woman when she won the Oscar for her 2002 film The Hours since she and Tom Cruise had divorced in 2001, shortly before the release of Moulin Rouge (which earned Kidman her first Oscar nomination). Additonally, Helen Mirren (this past decade's oldest winner) is still married to director Taylor Hackford, and Marion Cotillard is still in a relationship with actor-director Guillaume Canet.

Still, in light of the recent domestic strife affecting Winslet and Bullock, it's a striking trend -- all the more so when you compare the actresses to their Best Actor counterparts over the last decade. Only one of those winners -- Sean Penn -- has divorced, and six of them are married or in longtime relationships. Also, unlike many of the Best Actress winners, not a single one of those Best Actor winners is married to a currently working actor, which may negate any potential competitive aspect to the relationship.

Certainly, there are other factors at play, too: Those Best Actor winners tend to be older than the Best Actresses (and perhaps more settled), and the break-up of a marriage or relationship is hardly uncommon these days. Still, it's hard not to draw unsettling conclusions about the power dynamics between the women who win the industry's highest accolade and the men who don't. Even the two women whose relationships have survived Oscar are married to or dating a director, the one person who gets to tell an actress what to do. It's often said that Hollywood can be hard on women. Is the so-called Best Actress curse living proof?


  • jasika says:

    Best actress? Hardly! How can Bullock get best AND worst(Razzie) actress awards the same week? It was all about the story line in "The Blind Side," not Bullock's acting skills.

  • justin says:

    Their husbands were probably playing around so they could feel like a "man" and the actress was too preoccupied to notice until after her win!
    Oh, and I'm not placing the blame solely on the actress or her hubby as it takes two for a relationship to work!