Caitlin McBride: There’s a reason Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s divorce feels so personal
Admit it, when you heard Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from Brad Pitt, you gasped too.
I did. My colleagues did. The first question after the initial disbelief, the "Where are you getting that from?" to the, “Well if they can’t make it….”
We’ve all been invested in Brangelina since the beginning. Why? Because we were all part of it from the very start – we, the public, were key in their love story succeeding.
When Pitt first met Jolie, they were filming Mr & Mrs Smith in 2004 and he was married to America’s Sweetheart Jennifer Aniston.
After months of reports of their “chemistry”, the couple called it quits, him and Jolie went public with their romance and he began the process of legally adopting their oldest son Maddox.
The tabloids followed their every move, their every meal, what his parents thought of his new girlfriend, with rhetoric like 'Brad’s mother preferred wholesome Jen'. No stone was left unturned in the quest for Brangelina gossip.
Despite our undoubted fascination with them, it took us years to get on board with them as a couple. When Jennifer Aniston said he was missing a “sensitivity chip” to US Vogue in 2005 at the peak of his tour de romance with Angelina, the comment hit home.
It was meant to hit a nerve for every wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, friend who had been scorned. We were team Jen.
As time went on, we watched Angelina evolve from a woman who wore vials of her ex-husband’s blood to a UN goodwill ambassador, traversing developing countries and adopting children from around the world.
Photographers joined her on these international trips, select publications were invited into their circle to report and he paparazzi often caught them with their growing family.
Because of the circumstances of their initial introduction, the public were key in turning Brand Brangelina into a major Hollywood commodity.
I, along with most, can recall their most talked about moments at the drop of a hat because the beginning of this super couple marked a change in the consumption of celebrity news.
Suddenly, we wanted it all the time - on our tv, on our computer, on our Motorola Razr phone. There was their 2005 W Magazine cover, their impossibly perfect 2014 wedding after 10 years together and most notably, when Jolie had a double mastectomy in 2013 and later, had her ovaries removed in 2015 after a cancer scare.
At the time, she praised her husband for his unwavering support.
"I knew through the surgeries that he was on my side and that this wasn't something where I was going to feel less of a woman," Angelina said.
"Because my husband wasn't going to let that happen."
Her decision to be so open resulted in a massive increase in women getting breast checks. The ‘Angelina Jolie effect’ would be her legacy.
One year later in 2014, the couple, arguably tied with Victoria and David Beckham in influence, fame, power and wealth, married in a low-key ceremony with only their children in attendance.
Maddox (15), Pax (12), Zahara (11), Shiloh (10) and Vivienne and Knox (both eight) drew on their mother’s off-white Versace veil and train because that’s the kind of family they were – creative and encouraging.
And that’s the way we liked it.
Their big day was covered only by trusted publications on both side of the pond – People and Hello! – to quench fans’ thirst for insider knowledge, without compromising on their privacy.
Like all major Hollywood players, they’ve been dogged by split rumours for years, but never once did we believe them.
They had overcome it all – the anti-Angelina sentiment in the early days of their relationship, their growing family, her mother’s death in 2007 to ovarian cancer.
We were on their side because we were told from the very beginning that their relationship was different from the others in Hollywood.
Little is known behind the motive for the split, only that Jolie has cited irreconcilable differences, and requested physical custody of their children. TMZ, who broke the story, said they had issues over how they were raising their six children.
But, much like the beginning of this story, we’ll be key in accepting how they want it to end.