Ever run into an ex at a coffee shop and want to melt into the ground? Sometimes it can feel like an ex is literally everywhere and you're completely unable to escape them. And having a relationship in the spotlight makes things even harder! But someone great once said, "the show must go on," and for these celebs, ahead, they had no choice but to get back to work after their breakup. To make us feel a little bit better about our last run-in with our ex, here's a list of celebs who mixed business and pleasure and had to get back to work after things went south. Some had some nice things to say about their former flings, others...not so much.
Jennifer Aniston & Tate Donovan
Friends fans know nothing was more fun than hearing Rachel Green utter her crush's name, “Joshua!” Maybe it was because we’d all been there, or the fact she and real-life ex-boyfriend, Donovan, were split. (Drama!) The pair met in 1995, way before he had a recurring role on the show, but broke up around two years later.
“I was just happy to be on the team. The only bummer was Jennifer and I were breaking up at the time,” the actor told Us Weekly in 2018. “And so that was tricky to sort of act, and act like we are just meeting each other and falling in love or whatever, interested in each other, when we’re sort of breaking up. That was just tough.”
Bella Hadid & The Weeknd
The Grammy-nominated rapper and the supermodel have been on and off again since 2015. So, who could forget the iconic 2016 Victoria Secret Fashion Show when The Weeknd performed while his ex-girlfriend of one-month strutted down the runway, giving us this unforgettable moment?
Hadid was totally cool about running into him, telling E! News, "This is his second year performing, and I think he's going to kill it. There is no awkwardness. He is my best friend, and I am excited because I am walking during his performance."
Gwyneth Paltrow & Ben Affleck
The two leading stars of the ‘90s started dating after starring alongside each other in the 1998 film, Shakespeare in Love. Unlucky for us, this relationship didn’t last into the ‘00s, and the pair broke up in 2000 around the same time as the release of their romance film, Bounce.
“How did you know not to marry him? You were never in love with him,” Stern asked Paltrow of Affleck on his radio show in May 2018.
“It’s interesting, I think there’s certain boyfriends where you are trying to work stuff out, right?” she replied. “Like, you’re trying to heal certain stuff from your childhood and he was very much a lesson in that way.”
Charles Melton & Camila Mendes
One of two Riverdale couples on this list, this duo began dating in October 2018, but broke up in December 2019.
While they have yet to comment on their breakup, Mendes told Teen Vogue in May 2019 that she would be okay if they were to split. "That's a part of life," she said. "I wouldn't be embarrassed about it. It happens. I know I'm happy, and I know where I am in my life, so I'm going to let [people on Twitter] say whatever they want. Why should I care?"
Milo Ventimiglia & Hayden Panettiere
Remember when this pair played niece and uncle on Heroes? Well, they dated IRL, too, despite their on-screen roles from 2007 to 2009. Unlucky for them, the show didn't end for another year.
Ventimiglia told Mr. Porter in September 2017 he would "never again" date a costar."There are things that happen to you in your life that shape who you are," he added. "Everything I've been through from jobs to friendships to partnerships—everything has built me to who I am. You learn from it. You learn a better way of doing things. It wasn't until my mid to late twenties that the job wears on you, relationships wear on you. But I wouldn't change a thing. When you get knocked over the head in life, it builds your perspective."
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson & Dany Garcia
While they were married, the couple co-founded the production company Seven Bucks Productions. Despite divorcing in 2007, after 10 years of marriage the pair still run it together. Johnson told E! what’s it like to work together post-breakup.
“A lot of times you see the glitz and the glamour of here in Hollywood and it’s a big premiere, but that's the kind of sludgy stuff that everybody goes through You gotta get your therapy and you got to go through it. But I always tell people and I always tell couples who are going through it—especially the dudes who seek out my advice who are like, 'How did you do it?' I always say, 'You gotta put in the work, and just remember that you were friends beforehand.' Like, try to think about things like that, and think about your goals."
Justin Long & Drew Barrymore
Was the ‘00s really the '00s without the presence of this couple on our screens? The two dated from 2007 to 2009 and reignited their flame when they worked together on the 2010 film, Going the Distance. The second time around, unfortunately, only lasted a couple of months.
Barrymore told People in 2009 that she still has respect and love for all her previous boyfriends. “Just because the ‘in love’ doesn’t work doesn’t mean the love goes away,” she said.
Lili Reinhart & Cole Sprouse
One of Riverdale's favorite couples, Bughead became the real deal when they were first romantically linked in 2017. After three years of dating, they broke up in May 2020 and started filming season five of the popular CW series in September.
Reinhart talked to W Magazine in 2019 on what a split between them could mean." If and when we break up on the show, I don't know. It's weird being with an actor. You deal with sh*t no one has to deal with."
Joey King & Jacob Elordi
The couple met on the set of Netflix's Kissing Booth in 2017, but broke up in the fall of 2018. Due to the movie's popularity, the pair had to work on a sequel together shortly after they ended things. King told Cosmopolitan in September 2020 that she wasn't going to let her personal life get in the way of filming.
"No one's thinking to themselves, 'That was easy,' because it wasn't. I'm sure people will analyze every movement and every detail. And you know what? Let them. But at the end of the day, I was just thrilled to be Elle Evans again. Elle Evans needs her Noah Flynn, and whatever that means for my personal life, I'll do anything to make sure the story of my character who I care about so much is complete."
Jessica Szohr & Ed Westwick
While the duo's characters had a casual relationship on the show, Jessica Szohr and Ed Westwick dated on and off between 2009 and 2012. The pair have remained good friends. In a 2017 interview with Cosmopolitan, Szohr told the publication she found the sexual assault allegations against Westwick that had surfaced during the time to be "shocking."
"From the Ed I know and working with him for five years and having a friendship through all of that and after, it was shocking," Szohr said.
Amanda Seyfried & Dominic Cooper
Seyfried and Cooper met on the set of the original Mamma Mia! in 2008, and dated for three years before splitting in 2011. They reprised their roles as husband and wife in the 2018 sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Seyfried revealed in 2011 that the pair split due to the actor seeing someone else, and later went on to marry Thomas Sadoski in March 2017. Cooper dated Ruth Negga for eight years before they split up in April 2018.
Jennifer Lopez & Marc Anthony
The multi-hypenate mega-star was married to musician Marc Anthony for seven years before they split up in 2011, and divorced in 2014. The pair are parents to twins Max and Emme, and still continued to work together professionally with their global talent TV competition, Q’Viva! The Chosen, in 2012, and recording a Spanish album together in 2016.
Lopez confirmed to Live with Kelly that the two have found their personal lives improved by their professional collaboration. "At first I was like, we’re good with the kids, but if we start working together, are we going to start going at each other again?" she said. "But it’s been awesome. Honestly, I think it’s even helped our relationship and it’s made things even better.” Anthony later married Shannon De Lima before they divorced in 2017, and Lopez is now dating former New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez.
Ian Somerhalder & Nina Dobrev
They put the kibosh on their relationship in 2013, but Somerhalder and Dobrev didn't let their split get in the way of their duties as on-screen love interests on The Vampire Diaries. There must have still been some residual feels there because they still managed to win the “Best Chemistry” trophy at the 2014 People’s Choice Awards. “It’s a good thing it’s not awkward,” joked the actress.
Kourtney Kardashian & Scott Disick
These two had their tumultuous relationship documented on Keeping Up With the Kardashians for the nine years they were together. The pair, who are also parents to Mason, Penelope, and Reign, have continued to film the hit series together despite announcing their breakup in 2015.
Jennifer Lawrence & Nicholas Hoult
Lawrence and Hoult met on the set of 2011’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, and dated on-and-off until they split for good in August 2014, which was before they had filmed X-Men: Apocalypse, and long before the film's promo tour, which would require them to be together for extended periods of time. Awkward doesn't even begin to cover it.
Rachel Bilson & Adam Brody
While Seth & Summer from The O.C. were #teenrelationshipgoals, Brody and Bilson didn't last very long. The pair dated for three years and split up in 2006, just in time to film Seth and Summer's future wedding.
Chad Michael Murray & Sophia Bush
The One Tree Hill costars—who played high school sweethearts Brooke Davis and Lucas Scott—were briefly married in April 2005 and separated five months later. The duo tried to keep things professional on set, but Bush wrote in an essay for Cosmopolitan in 2017 that their relationship and subsequent divorce was "a massive event in my life. And the trauma of it was amplified by how public it became, which was incredibly foreign and bizarre to a girl who’d been just another college kid 24 months before her life blew up.”
Diane Keaton & Al Pacino
Keaton and Pacino's love affair spanned decades from the '70s and '80s during the filming of The Godfather trilogy. Keaton wanted to settle down and Pacino had no interest at the time, leading to their split.
Michael C. Hall & Jennifer Carpenter
Dexter brought the pair together, and they divorced before the series came to an end. The costars were married from 2008 to 2011 while working on the show together, and Hall doesn't recommend it. “Don’t try this at home,” Hall joked when asked about keeping a professional relationship with an ex-partner. “The fact that Jennifer and I worked through whatever was going on with us personally and the way we did and maintained a commitment to telling this story was never in question.” He continued, “It was always what we needed and wanted to do.”
Heidi Klum & Seal
These two shocked the world when they announced their intentions to divorce after nine years of marriage in 2014. They've taken co-parenting to another level, and have been seen having dinner together since. Klum even invited Seal to guest judge with her on America's Got Talent.
Nikki Reed & Paul Mcdonald
The actress and her American Idol alum ex didn't let their 2014 split get in the way of a future collaboration. The pair released their post-breakup album, I’m Not Falling, an album they started before they broke up. Reed later married Ian Somerhalder, another celebrity ex who makes an appearance on this list.
Jenny Slate & Chris Evans
Evans and Slate met on the set of Gifted and appeared together on the Anna Faris is Unqualified podcast. Aromance formed in real life between the pair, causing the internet to explode. They gave it a shot, being on-and-off for about a year and a half, including an off-period during which they had to promote Gifted. But even so, Evans still says that Slate was his "favorite human."
Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton
These two had a tumultuous rollercoaster ride of a relationship—marrying and divorcing twice: once from 1964 to 1974 and again from 1975 to 1976. The Hollywood royalty managed to set it all aside for the 1983 play Private Lives.
Charlize Theron & Sean Penn
In a case that can only be considered an ultimate burn, Theron met Penn when she starred in the movie The Last Face, which Penn directed. The pair were even rumored to be married until news of their breakup emerged—with rumors that Theron "ghosted" Penn in 2015. A year later, the two had to work alongside each other to promote their film.
Penn Badgley & Blake Lively
Serena and Dan happened IRL when Badgley and Lively dated from 2007 to 2010. Gossip Girl didn't end until 2012 and their characters still ended up together, but they reportedly broke up because they found it too hard to be in love on screen and IRL. “We were constantly professional, to be honest, and we should both pat ourselves on the back because anything is complicated in that way...and we handled it,” Badgley said of working with Lively after the breakup.
Katie Holmes & Joshua Jackson
Yet another teen drama leading to an IRL romance, Holmes and Jackson had a very under-the-radar relationship during the filming of Dawson's Creek. Holmes has called him her "first love," but their relationship fizzled out way before Joey picked Pacey in the Dawson's finale.
Gwen Stefani & Tony Kanal
If you've ever sang "Don't Speak" at the top of your lungs while crying in the shower, you can thank Tony Kanal. The pair dated for seven years and Kanal ended things in 1994, right around the time that No Doubt hit it big. The album Tragic Kingdom is pretty much inspired by their breakup. "I was in love and obsessed with Tony Kanal, and he knows that," Stefani said on The Howard Stern Show last year. "As soon as he opened the car door I was like, 'I love him. I don't know why.'" Luckily for us, pain can bring about growth.
Justin Timberlake & Cameron Diaz
No bad blood here! Four years after they broke up, the pair starred together in Bad Teacher. Diaz had nothing but kind things to say about her former boyfriend-turned-costar. Diaz told Us Weekly in March 2011, “Justin and I have always had a good laugh together, and to make a movie where we get to have a laugh together. There really was no one else who was more perfect for this part.”
Naomi Watts & Liev Schreiber
After 11 years together, Watts and Schreiber split in 2016, but have remained on good terms. They have such a tight-knit relationship they've even starred alongside each other as husband in wife for the movie Chuck.
Stevie Nicks & Lindsey Buckingham
Their complicated relationship spans decades. Stevie Nicks met future musical and romantic partner Lindsey Buckingham during her senior year in high school, and they made music together as a pair until they joined Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and Catherine McVie in Fleetwood Mac. Following the success of the self-titled album Fleetwood Mac, tension between Nicks and Buckingham began to take a toll on their creativity and relationship, and Nicks ended things between them.
Several songs on Fleetwood Mac's album Rumours are about Nicks and Buckingham's relationship. The two have reunited via various affairs over the years, with their relationship having more and more animosity over time. In the late '80s, when Buckingham quit Fleetwood Mac, he and Nicks got into a physical altercation. The band reunited in 1996, and things seemed okay until August of 2018, when it was announced that Buckingham had been dismissed from the band a second time.
Tarek & Christina El Moussa
The El Moussas were married for seven years. During that time, they rose to fame on HGTV’s Flip or Flop. They kept news of their dissolution private for months before going public in December 2016, and finalized their divorce in January 2018. Even though the pair split, they still signed on for an additional 15 episodes of their hit reality series. “It’s all new territory. Since we have to see each other every day, it’s beyond awkward,” Christina said in a press release at the time.
Mindy Kaling & BJ Novak
Kaling has described her friendship with Novak as "weird as hell," and that's a sentiment that's not hard to identify with in their case. While they starred (and wrote) as Kelly and Ryan on The Office, their real-life relationship wasn't far-off from the one they had on-screen. (But hopefully not as dysfunctional.) They're regularly each other's red carpet dates, have worked together post-Office, and Kaling told Vulture, "Now we are just, like, best friends. Like, real best friends. It’s the kind of friendship you have when you are embedded with someone, that you can only get by putting in that insane amount of time with people.”
Jack White & Meg White
When the White Stripes first burst on the scene, no one knew exactly what their relationship was to each other—were they family? Were they friends? Were they married? Jack perpetuated the rumors they were brother and sister for while, until it emerged they were actually ex-husband and wife. They continued to make music together for a decade before splitting up.
Sophia Bush & Austin Nichols
Yes, Bush makes a second appearance on this list due to her on-and-off relationship with One Tree Hill co-star Austin Nichols. They had been dating for four years before Nichols joined the teen drama series to be closer to Bush, and the pair eventually split for good in 2012, after the series ended.
Avril Lavigne & Chad Kroeger
The couple that shocked the music world when they linked up in 2013, and shocked the world again when they split after just two years in 2015. Avril has declared the pair to be "the best of friends" post-divorce, with the two still attending red carpet events together and collaborating musically.
Michael Vartan & Jennifer Garner
Jennifer Garner split from actor Scott Foley in 2004 and hooked up with her Alias co-star Michael Vartan shortly after. Their romance was short-lived. "Jennifer and I were best friends first, during [the romance] and after," Vartan said. They continued to work together until Alias wrapped in 2006.
Kaley Cuoco & Johnny Galecki
Spoiler alert: Cuoco and Galecki's The Big Bang Theory characters married in the series' ninth season, but Cuoco and Galecki dated in secret for two years before splitting up in 2010. Still, that hasn't gotten in the way of their friendship.
Galecki told The View that the way he maintains a healthy working relationship with Cuoco is through “massive doses of mutual love and respect, mostly,” Galecki said. ”It’s not easy but with those two ingredients, pretty much anything is possible. We’re dear, dear friends.” Galecki even attended Cuoco’s wedding to husband Karl Cook in June 2018. These two are more than just exes, they're family.
Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson
This one's especially awkward: Pattinson and Stewart met and fell in love during the filming of Twilight, and after Stewart was caught cheating with director Rupert Sanders in 2012, things between the pair turned...icy. Though they'd wrapped filming on the final Twilight film before, they still had to endure months of press together before publicly calling it quits in 2013. Despite all of this, they're still on good terms and have been seen hanging out together.
Kyle MacLachlan & Laura Dern
The pair first found love on the set of Blue Velvet and dated from 1985 to 1989. They found themselves reunited nearly 30 years later for a sex scene from David Lynch's Twin Peaks: The Return. MacLachlan shared details about their not-so-awkward reunion on Ellen.
“We had this scene that we had to do together—we both knew going in—which was going to require some nakedness on both our parts. It’s very funny because [director David Lynch] would sit down and say, ‘Okay, this is what we’re gonna do.’ He talks you through it, so you feel pretty comfortable,” he shared. “And then you sit down, and Laura and I were kind of like, ‘Okay, here we go.’ Welcome back, 25 years later…Yeah, it was weird. We had a couple of laughs for sure.”
Bianca Rodriguez is the Fashion & Luxury Commerce Manager at Hearst Magazines, covering fashion, beauty, and more for Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire, Harper’s BAZAAR, and Town & Country. She likes lounging about with a good book and thinks a closet without platform sneakers is a travesty.
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