Monday 18 December 2017

The couple that works together...

As Katie Holmes contemplates starring with hubby Tom Cruise, Chrissie Russell issues a stark warning to actors tempted to share the big screen with their other half

Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise
Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise
Madonna and Guy Ritchie
Kelly Brook arrives at the British Academy Television Awards 2008 held at the London Palladium in London Crddit: Mike Marsland/WireImage

Chrissie Russell

There was a muted response when Katie Holmes announced during a recent appearance on 'Good Morning America' that she'd like to star in a movie with her husband, Tom Cruise.

After being told that one of the most frequently asked questions by fans was, 'Will you ever star alongside Tom?', the 'Dawson's Creek' actress replied: "You know, if it is the right thing, why not? He's amazing," then moved swiftly on to the next question.

If the interview had happened in a movie, there would have been a peal of thunder and a bolt of lightning ripping through the darkened sky -- a cinematic portent of doom at the prospect.

As any self-respecting film buff knows, nothing signals The End of a Hollywood marriage more than appearing in the same movie billing.

Single stars (and sometimes even not-so-single ones) might find love on the set of their latest blockbuster, but longstanding couples who work together often fall prey to the co-star kiss of death.

Even if Holmes doesn't know this, Cruise certainly should. His decision to act with his then wife Nicole Kidman in Stanley Kubrick's erotic thriller 'Eyes Wide Shut' is often pinpointed as the catalyst for the end of the couple's relationship.

The pair suffered the ignominy of having their acting skills and passion questioned when their on-screen chemistry fell short of public expectation.

With a fizzle befitting the lack of sizzle in their performance, the marriage ended not long after the poor reviews.

Asked why they decided to work on the project together, the pair replied that they had been enticed by the script.

"I'm sure the idea of making a film together seems an obvious choice for a particular brand of Hollywood couple," says Steven Galvin from Film Ireland.

"Like that new couple who can't keep their hands off each other in public places, it's a way of announcing to everyone, 'Look at us -- we're so in love' -- what can possibly go wrong?"

If anyone has seen 'Gigli', they'll know what he's talking about. Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck's woeful efforts were widely ridiculed -- along with the film -- and then the relationship disappeared without a trace.

Well, not quite without a trace -- Affleck later revealed that he thought his former fiancée was "bad for his career".

Kelly Brook and Billy Zane's engagement was left similarly dead in the water after the disastrous joint project that was 'Fishtales'. Brook starred as a mermaid who fell in love with a professor (Zane) in a film that was widely panned by critics. The pair soon went their separate ways.

Many of the couples who decide to work together wrongly assume they're on safe ground if they have co-starred before.

But the sizzling sexual tension of meeting on set as singletons is very different from working and sharing a home together.

Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger were famed for their fireworks on the set of their first movie together, 'The Marrying Man', but 'The Getaway' proved to be more of a damp squib. After filming wrapped, Baldwin confessed he wasn't in any rush to film another sex scene with his wife, saying: "This will probably be the last film we do together." Basinger added: "If we can get through the making of this movie, we can get through anything."

One of them was right.

Nicolas Cage thought long and hard before about co-staring with his then wife Patricia Arquette before agreeing to do so in 'Bringing Out The Dead'.

He said: "I knew working with Patricia, I wouldn't really be able to fake it. She knows me so well. When you're that intimate with somebody you really can't act. You've got to be sincere."

The reason that mixing business with pleasure proves such a problem for so many movie-industry couples is that it blurs the lines between reality and fiction.

After Cruise and Kidman split, a friend and Hollywood agent was quoted as saying they'd flown too close to the wind by making a movie about a marriage in crisis.

He said: "I think their decision to make 'Eyes Wide Shut' together was playing with fire. It was a very bizarre film, about jealousy and sexual obsession and I think it spilled over into their real lives."

Similar allegations were made after the collapse of Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes' marriage. After Mendes directed Winslet in 'Revolutionary Road', a powerful drama about a marriage falling apart, the couple's own marriage started to fail.

Just 18 months after filming finished, the couple called time on their relationship.

"It's difficult to know if working together is what causes the marital problems or if the couple was having difficulties already and decided to try to get the relationship back on course by working together," says Dublin-based psychologist Susannah Healy from Access Psychology.

"The problem is that it can turn even more attention on to the marriage. Actors are highly aware of negative comments and if their relationship is being over-analysed in the media, because they are working together, this can lead to bigger even problems."

She adds: "There can also be a real issue if there's an imbalance of power either by one person being more well known and getting more attention on set, or if one person is more used to being in charge at home and the other doesn't want the cast and crew privy to that.

"Added to the mix is the fact that you have two people very used to getting what they want instantly, who might have very little sticking power when it comes to weathering bad times."

The list of power-struggling couples whose domestic issues spilled into work is lengthy.

Director Guy Ritchie held former wife, Madonna, responsible for destroying the creative vision he had for 'Swept Away'. He said: "The idea was that it was going to be a small film ... but you can't do small films with the ex."

Ritchie would, of course, have known that his missus was no stranger to the co-star kiss of death. Back in the early 1990s, she starred as ganster's moll Breathless Mahoney in 'Dick Tracy', directed by her then boyfriend, Warren Beatty. The couple even duetted together on the film's soundtrack, recording 'Now I'm Following You'.

But off-screen, the couple wasn't making sweet music together and, dissastified by Beatty's ability to please her in bed, Madge soon moved on to a relationship with Vanilla Ice not long after filming wrapped.

More sinister was the relationship that developed between Mia Farrow and boyfriend Woody Allen. According to friends of the actress, the director "was always telling her she had no talent at all. That she was only good in his pictures, not anyone else's".

With the result that Farrow appeared in 13 of Allen's movies, becoming emotionally and financially dependent on him until their split.

If cinema has taught us anything, it's that Katie Holmes would be wise keeping her career and her husband as far apart as possible if she wants to hang on to both.

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