The death of Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher on December 27 had an extra poignancy as she had been unusually prominent in the weeks leading up to her passing.
In her latest volume of memoir, Fisher (60) had gone public with an affair with Star Wars co-star Harrison Ford on the set of the original 1977 movie.
She was 19 and wide-eyed; he 33 and married with two children.
“It was so intense,” she wrote.
“It was Han and Leia during the week, and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend.”
The revelation was big news if not quite a bombshell for the ages.
Movie-sets set flings are part of movie industry folklore — hence Fisher’s observation that “When you’re on location…everything is permitted”.
Here are some of the more famous/notorious examples of forbidden love blossoming under the white heat of the cameras.
Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie: Pushing Tin
Six-times married Thornton knows a few things about love and loss. In the late Nineties he became engaged to long-time girlfriend Laura Dern. But in 2000 he starred alongside Angelina Jolie in drama-comedy Pushing Tin and, several months later, the pair were wed.
“I left our home to work on a movie, and while I was away, my boyfriend got married, and I’ve never heard from him again,” Dern would reflect. “It’s like a sudden death. For no one has there been any closure or clarity.”
There was no fairytale end for Thornton who would split from Jolie in 2003. “I never felt good enough for her,” he admitted to GQ magazine. “I’m real uncomfortable around rich and important people.”
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt: Mr and Mrs Smith
The future Brangelina have always insisted they did not become romantically involved while Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston. Yet the chemistry between them was clear as they starred as a married couple secretly hired to kill one another in this light-hearted romp.
“Their first encounter on the set of Mr and Mrs Smith in 2003 is now part of Hollywood folklore,” wrote Andrew Morton in his unauthorised biography of Jolie. “Director Doug Limon saw the chemistry between them and instantly knew he had captured lightning in a bottle. Brad’s marriage to Hollywood’s girl next door Jennifer Aniston broke down soon after.”
Jolie’s “wild ways”, Morton went on to argue, were as a result of a tempestuous childhood, which saw her father John Voigt abandon the family and was marked by a difficult relationship with her mother, Marcheline Bertrand.
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders: Snow White and the Huntsman
Stewart was very publicly involved with her Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson. But a 2012 affair with her married Snow White director Saunders saw the publicity-shy actress dragged through the tabloid mill.
“I lit my universe on fire and I watched it burn,” said Stewart of the relationship in an interview with Marie Claire. “Speaking very candidly, it was a really traumatic period in my early 20s that kick-started something in me that was a bit more feral.”
Saunders was married to model and actress Liberty Ross. When news of the scandal broke, he publicly apologised. But it wasn’t enough to save the relationship.
“I have no words to describe what we went through,” Ross confessed to Vanity Fair. “But I think, for me, something always has to completely die for there to be a rebirth. And, for me, I feel like I’m going through a rebirth.”
Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan: Proof Of Life
When Ryan had an affair with her Proof of Life co-star Russell Crowe, all of the sympathy was with husband Dennis Quaid . Yet Ryan would later state that Quaid had already been unfaithful and that the couple were in a troubled place when she met Crowe. She and Quaid divorced in 2001, just a few months Proof of Life’s release.
“Dennis was not faithful to me for a very long time, and that was very painful. I found out more about that after I was divorced,” Ryan told Insight magazine in 2008. ”Russell didn’t break up the marriage. He was definitely there at the end, but it wasn’t his fault.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Brigitte Nielsen: Red Sonja
Arnie confessed to a “hot affair” with his Red Sonja (1985) co-star Brigitte Nielsen in his 2012 autobiography Total Recall. At the time of the fling he was living with his future wife Maria Shriver. He would later again cheat on Shriver, this time with the family housekeeper (with whom he had a child).
“I think it was the stupidest thing I’ve done in the whole relationship,” he later rued of his affair with the housekeep. “It was terrible. It inflicted tremendous pain on Maria and unbelievable pain on the kids.”
Michelle Pfeiffer and John Malkovich: Dangerous Liaisons
While co-starring in the 1988 bodice ripper , the two esteemed actors became romantically involved.
“His [Malkovich’s] marriage was breaking up,” the film’s director, Stephen Frears, would tell the New York Times. “And, during the movie, he was having an affair with Michelle Pfeiffer. Dangerous Liaisons is about betrayal and lies and relationships unravelling. It was one of those times where reality and art intersect. It was overwhelming to John. Even for a man who delights in bad behaviour, that was a difficult time.’’
Subsequently, Malkovich would profess his amazement that his glamorous co-star had given him a second glance, observing . “It’s hard to believe Michelle Pfeiffer ever said hello to me.”
Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher: Butterfield 8
Carrie Fisher’s fling with Harrison Ford was a case of history repeating as her father, crooner and actor Eddie Fisher, notoriously left Fisher’s mother Debbie Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor when their daughter was just two years old. Hollywood was scandalised though Fisher’s new romance didn’t last terribly long with Taylor in turn ditching him for Richard Burton.
A peculiar footnote is that Reynolds had been warned off her future husband by Frank Sinatra, himself a notorious womaniser. “You should think twice about this,” he had told her when they starred together in the Tender Trap. “It’s a hard life marrying a singer. I know.”
Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall: To Have and Have Not
Tough-guy star Bogart was married to actress Mayo Methot when he and his co-star Bacall got together on the set of To Have and Have Not in 1944. “I just saw your test. We’ll have a lot of fun together,” he told her on their first meeting. She was 19 and he was 45.
The relationship was regarded as stable within Hollywood though it was understood to be an open marriage. Bogart had a long term affair with his secretary and Bacall became involved with Frank Sinatra while Bogart, a close friend of the singer, was dying from cancer.
“He had great wit and intelligence,” she reflected later of her husband. “He was 45 — he had more energy than I did. When you’re 20, you’re like a limp rag. I was so mad about him — I was like a fool, like an idiot. He was more than I ever thought I would ever have in my life.”