When Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt announced their separation in January 2005, both refuted claims that his head had been turned by Angelina Jolie. "For those who follow these sorts of things, we would like to explain that our separation is not the result of any of the speculation reported by the tabloid media," they said in a statement, referencing rumours that Brad had grown close to his Mr and Mrs Smith co-star.
Said to have been struggling for a year, according to friends, the real reason for the separation was that Brad and Jen's busy work schedules had made it almost impossible to 'maintain intimacy'. The problem, it was said, was the constant pressure to be the perfect couple when, in truth, they were just an average husband and wife experiencing ups and downs. An insider told People magazine: "They gradually lost sight of themselves as individuals. And despite their nice lifestyle and having everything they might want, they weren’t happy. They lost a sense of self.”
A mutual friend of the former Hollywood power couple also claimed it was Brad who stalled on having children and not Jen - as was cruelly circulated at the time. And when Jen struggled emotionally with the end of Friends in 2004, she said Brad - who by that point was filming Mr and Mrs Smith - "just wasn't there for me." He didn't even show for filming of the final episode. In the end though, the final call was apparently made by Brad, who "wanted to figure out who he was" as a single man, despite Jen's pleas to stay married.
Admitting she'd wanted Brad to stay and work through their problems, Jen told Vanity Fair: “It’s just complicated... You’re two people continually evolving, and there will be times when those changes clash. There are all these levels of growth - and when you stop growing together, that’s when the problems happen.” But Jennifer's best friend and Friends co-star Courteney Cox revealed there was another layer to their separation.
Despite Brad's denials of an affair with Angelina, according to Courteney he'd warned his wife about his intense feelings for the Lara Croft star. "I don’t think he started an affair physically, but I think he was attracted to her,” she told Vanity Fair after joining Brad and Jen on one final holiday to Anguilla. She continued: “There was a connection, and he was honest about that with Jen. Most of the time, when people are attracted to other people, they don’t tell. At least he was honest about it. It was an attraction that he fought for a period of time.”
It wasn't long after Brad and Jen parted ways that he was pictured playing happy families on a beach in Kenya with Angelina and her then-toddler son Maddox, confirming Jen's worst fears. And just months later, Jen was heartbroken when it emerged Angelina was expecting their first baby.